The firm's emphasis on putting the client's family into a secure position is among the things clients say they value in their relationship with Franklin. Eric Westmoreland, a linebacker who signed on with Franklin after getting drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2001, said he was referred to Franklin by a fellow football player.

"He told me that Chris is an honest person and he's not like a lot of financial advisors that let you do anything you want with your money," Westmoreland says.

He says he talks to Franklin at least two or three times a week, often about family issues that have nothing to do with money. "Not only does he get to know you, but he wants to make sure that your family is comfortable with what's going on," Westmoreland says.

Marvin H. McIntyre, senior managing director of the high-net-worth group at Legg Mason in Washington, D.C., says Franklin is able to exert influence with his clients through trust building. "He has a passion for making sure he does the right thing for his clients," says McIntyre, who is one of Franklin's subadvisors. "He's not glib; he is sincere."

Building up trust with high-profile clients can be tough, he notes. Yet these clients are also among those who need a trusted advisor the most, he says. "I think it's very different because from the minute they become famous, they're hit on by every friend who thinks they have an idea for them."

Some advisors also tend to acquiesce to such clients for fear of losing their business, he notes. "There are certain people who can be intimidated. Chris, by his very nature, is not," he says.

One client who knows about the challenges facing an advisor specializing in athletes is Christopher Doleman, who started working with Franklin in 1985 when he was a financial advisor with ProServ. Doleman then joined Franklin when he left to start his own business in 1993.

Doleman, whose NFL career lasted 15 years until his retirement in 1999, feels that today's athletes are a harder breed to contend with from a financial viewpoint. "I think what happened is that the money is bigger and guys tend to think they can spend more," he says. "I saw players who during the course of the year lived from paycheck to paycheck."

Also, with an entire sports financial management industry competing for their business, it's not unusual for a pro athlete to have multiple advisors through the course of his career, he says. The relationships are often not a good fit. "With 99% of the guys, the bigger the money, the more 'yes' men they have around them."

Doleman says one reason he's remained with Franklin for nearly 20 years is his honest and sensible approach. During the bull market of the late 1990s, for instance, Doleman recalls how Franklin steadfastly refused to put his clients into Internet stocks. Franklin, Doleman says, also called it right by easing out of equities in 1999. "He's not influenced by products and other things that other guys might try to sell you," Doleman says.