Before Joe McClean became “the money-whisperer to the NBA elite,” he was a professional basketball hopeful. After almost making the NBA on several occasions, he got cut for the final time. Frustrated but determined to start a new chapter, he made a fresh start in finance – first with asset managers, then as an advisor. Over the years he’s learned to combine his knowledge of what it means to be a player with what it means to be a teammate with what it means to be a coach in all walks of life. His company, Intersect Capital, has become a premier advisory firm for professional athletes. McClean embodies what it means to be a pro’s pro.
In an interview with Patrick O’Shaughnessy, McClean explains how he learned from the promises, contracts, and training facilities that “life is a team sport.” No person is ever in it alone, but far too often people (especially young ones with life-changing contracts and incomes for the first times in their lives) don’t know who to turn to. McClean is that person. In a New York Time’s profile, they explained how managing money is not the same as managing wealth. Intersect looks at their entire life experience, from picking out watches and cars, to understanding their paystubs, to thinking about the ramifications of each decision they make. This complete attention to the individual makes a huge difference.
If this sounds a little too Hollywood/influencer/woo-woo, spend some time listening to McClean talk and read up on him. He’s getting athletes to save 60+ cents of every dollar they earn or else he fires them. He’s helping them understand how assets appreciate or depreciate, and what it means for their financial future. He’s helping them grow across their entire career arc, with purpose, into whatever comes next in their lives. As a rule, he won’t take on a client he wouldn’t want his kids to meet, and both his clients and kids know it. Need more? See his list of fifty things each of his clients should know in order to stay wealthy. The man truly cares about his work.
Perhaps the biggest insight is what McClean calls the greatest lesson he learned from sports, “A great player is someone everybody wants to play with.” the quote reminds us nothing is done in isolation, it’s communal. Not just any star on the court can make a team shine. Not just anyone could attract the clientele his firm is attracting. In our own practices, we can remember that this level of client selection, attention, and true empathy for their unique situation is what can differentiate our work too.
We are all playing a team sport. We are all community building. We are all striving to do something great. People like McClean provide a template for the work we have to do to earn the work we want to do.