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When he graduated college, Eszylfie Taylor had $100 in his bank account. He got a job as a broker for New York Life Insurance Company and, within a decade, had become one of the top brokers in the US. He branched out on his own nine years ago to open Taylor Insurance and Financial Services, where his clientele includes athletes and entertainers.
I spoke with Taylor about what it’s like to help celebrities manage their money and what the rest of us can learn from the rich and famous.
1. Just because someone is rich doesn’t mean they’re good with money
“I tell people: Do not confuse being successful with being a good planner,” Taylor said. “The reality is that some of the people with the most money have the worst plans.”
“I literally work with people that make millions in their career that retire broke,” he added.
Taylor points out that, if you make $1 million a year and spend $1 million a year, you’re broke. By the same token, we shouldn’t assume that people with less wealth aren’t good with money. Taylor said he has seen clients with a $50,000 salary retire fairly well off, if they plan wisely.
“The one phrase I say a lot is that if you aim at nothing, you will hit it with amazing accuracy,” Taylor says. “You have to have a plan.”
2. Athletes really need good financial advisors
Anyone can fail to make time to have a financial plan in the hustle of daily life. That can be even more of a struggle for actors or athletes whose careers can be intense and short-lived.
Athletes have a particular challenge because, unlike most people, their top-earning years tend to be between the ages of 20 to 30. He notes that the average player in the NBA or NFL makes $500,000 a year during a three-year career. Half of that goes to tax, and their manager gets a portion of the rest — it’s not hard to go broke.
“My wealthiest clients are in business, not sports,” he said.
The rest of us have the benefit of life experience by the time we hit our career stride, so we’re in a better position to plan. He gives the example of a 40-year-old doctor who hasn’t saved a dime. That doctor still has 20 years of their career to turn things around and start saving for retirement.
3. Big money can cause big problems
Taylor notes that many people fall into one of two categories around money: those trying to get it, and those who have it. It might seem like people who’ve made a lot of money have it easy, but he says they still have to figure out how to keep it. Fame can also compound money problems.
“[For] athletes or entertainers, their falls are more publicized,” Taylor said. “And large sums can complicate people’s lives.”For example, he points out that if you lend a friend $500 and they don’t pay it back, that stings — but not as much as a celebrity who lends a friend $2 or $3 million.
For his well-off clients that want to help friends and family out financially, Taylor suggests they help their loved ones earn money themselves, rather than simply giving it to them. Instead of gifts, he recommends giving people the chance to invest with you in exchange for equity.
“The elevator to success is broken,” he said. “You gotta take the stairs, you’ve got to do the work.”
For people who gain sudden wealth, he suggests buying a nice house or car for yourself, but not to show off to the world.”Some of the wealthiest people I ever met, you would never know if you passed them on the street,” he said.
4. For celebrities, financial health often depends on the quality of their advisors
Taylor’s famous clients usually have a bunch of business managers and lawyers to help them manage their financial affairs. He’s never met about half of his celebrity clients because he works solely with their managers.
Taylor said that most celebrity managers are ethical and a pleasure to work with, but that isn’t always the case.
“Unfortunately, some of these people don’t have the best interests of their clients at heart,” he said.
He’s had proposals that would have been lucrative for a client rejected because a manager wouldn’t make anything on the deal.
“This is where the power of financial literacy comes into play,” Taylor said.
Celebrities don’t go broke because they bought a few flashy watches, but because they invested poorly or did a bad deal. The people who have trustworthy advisors who set them up for success and help educate them about their choices tend to do the best.
Advice from a top financial advisor: don’t let fear of money keep you from living
Taylor thinks it’s essential to examine our relationships with money.
“I call it the attachment to money,” he said. “[when] you’re so afraid to live.”
As an example of this kind of “scarcity attachment,” Taylor tells the story of a client who came to his office during a rainstorm, and she was soaked.
He knew she had parked in the underground garage, so he asked her how she got so wet. She told him her car had a hole in the roof, and she couldn’t afford to fix it. But Taylor knew that client had earned $50,000 in interest on her investments in the last month alone.
He falls firmly into the “abundance attachment” camp. If he lost everything today, Taylor is confident he could earn it back in 12 months because he understands the principles of money and he’s not afraid of hard work.
And he’s also not afraid to branch out: He owns eight businesses, and his latest is not in financial services — it’s the Creamalicious ice cream company.
However, Taylor’s famous clients need to take a more cautious approach to
. “The athlete, the entertainer, has to be more disciplined,” he said. “If the only way I know how to make money is by throwing 3-pointers, and I tear my knee up, then what?”