John Calamos: ‘From Game Day to Financial Security’

Drawing on personal experience to make sound wealth management decisions

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By John P. Calamos, Sr., Chairman, CEO & Global Co-CIO
View more market insights by Calamos Investments

No matter what our walk of life or chosen profession, we can apply the lessons and expertise we have gained to choosing a trusted wealth management advisor.

Before I began my career in financial services, I served in the U.S. Air Force, where I flew in combat missions during the Vietnam War. As an Air Force pilot, you learn about trust and the importance of covering each other in difficult situations. My fellow airmen and I were able to navigate high-risk situations because we relied on superior training, disciplined preparedness, and teamwork. Decades later, what I learned in the Air Force continues to guide my approach to my own business and to building wealth.

In “Professional Athletes: Broke So Soon?,” we spotlight the challenges that professional athletes face when it comes to managing their money. If you’re an athlete, you may not think that there is much in common between what you do and working with an advisor to develop a sound long-term financial plan. That could make investing seem intimidating.

The good news is that there are steps you can take to empower yourself to choose a trusted partner. Senior Relationship Manager Sterling Sullivan outlines some of these on page 18. I also believe that when professional athletes are looking for an advisor, they can draw on many of the strengths that have driven their successes so far.

Ask as many questions as you want. When you’re deciding with whom you want to trust your money, do it thoughtfully and deliberately. It’s not unlike studying game tapes again and again. Apply the same skills that you would use to size up your competition. The best advisors want to know everything about you—not just your signing bonus, but what you want for your future.

For athletes who play on teams, the process of picking a trusted advisor is similar to deciding on a team to sign with. Will you be playing with an experienced coach with an established track record of wins and making players better? You should be confident that your advisor has been successful over the long term.

Do the franchise, owners, general manager, and coach take the needs of the players into account? Some financial advisory firms take a one-size-fits-all approach or don’t provide a high level of personal attention. If you wouldn’t want that from the front office, why would you want that from your wealth manager? Make sure you’ll receive clear and consistent updates in writing about what’s going on with your money, and that you can speak with a knowledgeable person whenever you need to.

Getting into a hall of fame doesn’t happen because of one season or one championship. It’s the same with investing. A strong financial future takes time and disciplined planning. Steer clear of advisors who focus only on today. Sound wealth management strategies focus on helping you achieve your unique goals for the decades to come, whether that’s setting up a reserve to draw upon when you retire from sports, helping younger family members pay for college, or purchase a new home.

It’s okay to take risks—but be smart about it. In our article “Jerry Rich: A Life of Hard Work and Rich Harvest,” we track the path of an entrepreneur who saw opportunities to build wealth where others didn’t as we share some of the wisdom he has gained along the way.

Successful athletes know that winning often means taking risks but not foolish ones. Will you bunt or swing for the fences? Will you throw or run the ball when it’s fourth and inches and the clock’s ticking down? Will you go for the green or lay up? Professional athletes are excellent at thinking many steps ahead. When it comes to choosing a financial advisory team, look for one that can prove to you that they are thinking ahead and understand the risks.

Teams leverage talent. It’s true in sports, it’s true in combat, and it’s true in investing. At Calamos, our approach is built on teamwork: from the way we work within our organization to the way we partner with our clients. We are always honored by the trust our clients place in us. We affirm that trust by striving for the highest levels of excellence, year in and year out.


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