When a professional athlete needs to apply for a mortgage or sell a car, they call Joe McLean.
McLean's wealth management firm, Intersect Capital, says it has 400 clients in the NBA and MLB, as well as golfers on the PGA Tour. It also has $1.3 billion of assets under management, per documents reviewed by Business Insider.
The firm specializes in helping athletes and entertainers manage the complex dynamics of receiving sudden large payouts at a young age, with services ranging from building investment portfolios to helping its clients launch companies of their own, to coordinating private jets through their concierge service. In one week alone, McLean said he juggles requests ranging from purchasing wedding rings to coordinating donations to relief workers.
An unconventional path back into the game
Despite what McLean calls the "the 365-day" and "all-in" nature of his work, he said he never planned to become a financial planner to rich athletes. In fact, he dreamed of becoming one himself. After he was cut from the Sacramento Kings moments before his first game in 1998, he settled into a career in finance.
"I ran from sports because it didn't work out for me," McLean said. "I was pretty bitter."
But when his former teammates starting coming to him for help with their finances, McLean realized they'd gotten none of the kind of guidance reserved for the wealthy entrepreneurs he was working with, despite having similar net worths.
"What I realized is most athletes also grew up with posters on the walls, not checkbooks and cash and money," McLean told Business Insider. Their focus "was about chasing the dream," he said, not all the other consequences that come with managing the business of their careers — especially their wealth.
"I looked around and realized nobody's helping young people navigate this, from rookie to retirement to taking the steps outside of life after sports," McLean said. "And that light finally went on for me 15 years into my [financial] career, that now I'm going to get back into the game."
Eight years ago, McLean did just that when he launched Intercept. The firm has grown rapidly since, starting with McLean's contacts in the NBA and growing to encompass athletes from the MLB, PGA Tour, and a few "A-list actors and actresses." Though McLean declined to comment on his clientele, the Golden State Warriors' Klay Thompson and the Portland Trail Blazers' Hassan Whiteside have both confirmed that they work with McLean, per The New York Times and Bleacher Report.
But McLean won't work with just any star athlete. To become a client, they have to agree to McLean's holistic approach and emphasis on saving. Every single one must commit to putting at least 60% of their income away for the future.
"My rule of thumb has always been if I can't introduce you to my kids, then you can't become a client," McLean said. "I believe in a very harmonized life, not a balanced life."
That harmony was tested earlier this year, when coronavirus lockdowns canceled sports seasons, leaving nearly all of his clients out of work at the same time.
"You think you and I are bad on Amazon? With all this time at home, everyone was getting really creative," McLean said. "They wanted these extra cars, to buy a boat, extra houses. Everyone was trying to validate to me why they should fly private because it's safer, even though you shouldn't even be on any plane ... It's like, my God, I need to get these guys back playing again."
This week alone, McLean told Business Insider that his days included:
- Underwriting and closing on three home sales and making offers on two other properties.
- Moving about a dozen MLB and NBA players out of the homes they rented for their seasons, by booking cleaning services, collecting their security deposits, and helping them find new homes.
- Buying and selling several cars.
- Meeting with three venture capital firms about investment opportunities.
- Sitting in on calls for with one client launching a publishing company, one launching a wine label, and another running a production company.
- Double-checking that every client is registered to vote.
- Working with Intercept's concierge team to purchase two diamond rings and plan two wedding proposals.
- Booking private travel.
- Organizing client donations for wildfire relief in Northern California.
- Hosting Zoom calls with executives that are looking to bring their business to the Intersect platform.
- Playing 9 holes of golf with his kids.
- And spending at least two hours a day writing his first book.
At the end of the day, McLean says his work boils down to making sure players have someone to support them through every phase of their career so they can focus on the game.
As he often says, "Life is a team sport."