The wealth manager is one of the best in the business. The clientele he attracts, from across the highest-paid end of the professional sports spectrum, is proof of his talents.
McLean is one of those unsung figures who serve a crucial role in sports as we know it. Let’s take a look at his career, his most famous clients, and the powerful financial services firm he helped build.
Why Joe McLean is a natural fit for sports wealth management
Joe McLean is particularly suited to helping athletes manage wealth because he used to be one. As a forward for the Arizona Wildcats, McLean got about as close as one gets to the NBA without actually being drafted. He helped push his team to the 1994 Final Four. When the NBA didn’t come calling, he spent several years playing pro ball in Europe.
Being surrounded by players who actually did run into sudden wealth gave McLean important perspective. Similarly, seeing players in the final years of their careers, wrapping things up in Europe, provided important insight.
Once McLean’s time playing professional wound down, he went to grad school. After working for a wealth management firm, he decided to strike out on his own. He started Intersect Capital. His angle: leveraging his experience in athletics to provide tailored financial advisement for professional athletes.
The philosophy that McLean relies on to advise top-tier athletes
What McLean offers that other wealth managers don’t is a philosophy based on the common perspectives of elite competitors.
First, he teaches athletes how to say “no.” He understands the mentality that goes with becoming a top-flight talent. You have to say “yes,” even to things that your body and mind tell you not to. To exercise a little longer. To do those extra practice reps your coach demands. Athletes need to think harder about when to tell people away from the game, “no.”
Then, he educates athletes on a different way of keeping score. Not in straight dollar totals, or in how many material goods they buy. But in investment and growth potential. Athletes are often drawn to tangible investments like real estate. McLean helps them see investing from a more lucrative perspective.
And finally, he makes sure to drive home the point that retirement actually starts with each athlete’s first professional game. Athletes have to believe in themselves against all odds. It’s against their nature to assume they might not be in the game at all next year, despite the possibility. McLean helps athletes compartmentalize the idea that their ongoing earnings are objectively vulnerable.
It’s this approach that grew McLean’s Intersect Capital into the 50 client, $2 billion business it is today.
How Intersect Capital became the premier wealth management firm for athletes
There is one particularly notable difference between standard wealth management and working with professional athletes. The top-earning window in any pro sport is limited. Even the highest-paid athletes in the world only take in multi-million dollar contracts for a small portion of their lifetimes.
The rest involves hustling for endorsements, broadcasting work, or coaching jobs. For most former athletes, even if they do get these jobs, they’ll take in far less than at the height of their playing careers.
Intersect Capital was designed by McLean to address this exact issue. To either help athletes manage their money properly from the start or to mitigate risk at the end of their careers.
When McLean started the firm, there were few wealth managers who built their practices on addressing this concept. And even though McLean avoided targeting the players he personally worked with as clients, they spread the good word on his reputation anyway.