Olympian track and field star Joetta Clark Diggs turned to financial planning to help others improve their lives. Rowing silver medalist Ted Murphy turned to the profession to find a career.
It's not unusual for financial planning to play a role in the lives of sports figures, but the experiences of Clark Diggs and Murphy show two different perspectives.
For Clark Diggs, her goal was to turn Olympic fame into a meaningful living, make a difference in others' lives and make the fame and money last a lifetime. Murphy's goal was to use the discipline of athletics in a successful career in financial planning.
Clark Diggs, her sister Hazel Clark Riley and sister-in-law Jearl Miles Clark became the only sister act to sweep an Olympic trial in the same event. (Clark Diggs is the daughter of Joe Clark of Paterson, N.J., the educator on whose life the movie Lean On Me was based.) The three young women all won spots in the 800-meter race team in the 2000 Olympics.
Clark Diggs made four trips to the Olympics, was named to the USA Track and Field Hall of Fame and was among the top 10 runners in the United States for two decades. But when she finished running in 2000: What then?
"Not everyone wants to go into coaching and a professional career is not an option for a lot of sports," Clark Diggs says. But she had always wanted to help others improve their lives, and with the assistance of financial advisor Patricia Barksdale, Clark Diggs has sculpted a life as an author, a motivational speaker and the creator of a foundation that promotes good health and athletics among children.
"We had to enter our partnership to shape Joetta's financial life with a clear understanding of what the pool of money was. We developed a strategy for what Joetta's needs would be and how to make those funds last," says Barksdale, a financial advisor with Merrill Lynch in Newark, N.J.
For Clark Diggs, that meant keeping her name in the spotlight. Because of her long and high-profile career in running, Clark Diggs received sponsorship offers. Based from her home state of New Jersey, she became a motivational speaker for corporations and schools.
She also authored a book, Joetta's 'P' Principles for Success, which she describes as a motivational, self-help book, not a sports book. Her foundation, the Joetta Clark Diggs Sports Foundation Inc., is aimed at helping children lead a healthy lifestyle.
She has been a hands-on manager of her financial portfolio. "Joetta will come to me with ideas about something interesting to invest in," says Barksdale. "I also have to understand what she wants to do with her life and her foundation, as well as her nest egg."