Many of us ‘Joe Average’ guys dreamed as kids of having a career in major league sports.  But let’s face it, 99 percent of us just didn’t have what it takes to hit the big time. But for those who do, the career path is fairly linear. Play as hard as you can for as long as you can and earn as much as possible. Because pro sports is a young person’s game.

So, what happens when it’s over?  A few pro players go on to work in sports television, but most others pursue new business ventures and have to find ways to address the financial risks that come along with this.

Once You Have Created Wealth, Protecting It Becomes Critical

Let’s stay with the pro sports analogy just a bit because I’ve been impressed with The Trust, the National Football League’s Players Association program for its retired players. Think of it as a well-integrated system of resources, programs and services that provide former players with the support, skills, and tools they need to help ensure success off the field and in life after football. Hillard Heintze contributes to this program to help players protect their financial interests. Here are a few of the common concerns we help ex-players and their families with:

  • “I have concerns about a possible investment. Is it too good to be true?”
  • “Is my potential business partner legitimate?”
  • “Are there undisclosed issues I should know about before proceeding with a deal?”
  • “Should I have doubts about the professional or personal representations made to me by a party seeking an investment?”
  • “Is a potential venture legally organized and in good standing?”
  • “Has the party soliciting an investment from me been sued by a partner, managed failed investments or been charged or convicted of fraud?”

Of course, you don’t have to be an ex pro-sports player to have these same concerns about your business dealings. Most affluent and high-profile individuals are pitched regularly by people seeking partnerships, investments, endowments, or donations. Some of these are trustworthy entities. But many are not – often for reasons that are intentionally undisclosed and not immediately obvious for those with assets and reputations at risk.

Reputation Monitoring Helps Better Manage Risk

One of the ways we address these concerns, and ensure you’re working with the right people is through reputation monitoring. We’ve written about online reputation management and monitoring before, with a post a few weeks ago about Digital Black Ops and the online “scrubbers” who get paid to clean up one’s bad reputation. But, scrub all you like, if your character is questionable and your reputation in business has been tarnished by bad deals or criminal practices, evidence of actions and behavior exist. If it’s on the web, it will be found. At Hillard Heintze, we source and monitor chat rooms, internet data bases and search engines like Google, social media sites, blogs, news sites, video and photo sharing websites, forums, message boards. The list is endless. Today, reputation monitoring is used by everyone from hiring managers to pollsters. Here are some stats:

  • Almost all online U.S. adults use search engines to look up other people: 86% used a search engine like Google to find more information about another person.
  • Among U.S. recruiters, 70 percent have rejected candidates based on their online reputation – and yet only 7 percent of Americans believe their online reputation can affect their job search.
  • Nearly a third (31%) of online U.S. adults that have searched a person online have looked up a politician, and over half said the search influenced their voting decision.
  • Among U.S. adults who have searched someone online, nearly half (42%) have searched someone before doing business with them, and 45% have found something that made them decide NOT to do business with the person.

The lesson learned here is simple. Forewarned is forearmed.

Don’t sign a contract before you’ve undertaken an appropriate level of due diligence. If you’re investing substantial assets or your reputation is on the line, then take the time to conduct a strategic background investigation of the individuals and principals and their affiliated organizations. Ask that the work be scoped out first so that you can balance the value of the effort with the risks you are seeking to manage. These simple steps will protect your family, your life’s work, and your future.

Wealth can attract trouble. How can you better protect your family?
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