Andrew Lewis, Sales Director, discusses the work Sanlam has been doing with the Rugby Players Association (RPA) to raise financial awareness, offer work experience and help professional players transition into life after rugby.
Every professional sportsperson has the same predicament: what to do when they retire from sport and how best to finance their (and their family’s) future. According to the 2018 RPA Retired Player survey, only half of ex-professional rugby players felt financially prepared for this transition, and 46% experienced financial difficulty inside the first five years of retirement.
At Sanlam, we’ve always been huge supporters of the rugby fraternity and regularly host clients at rugby events. Over the years, we’ve seen for ourselves the hardship that can occur in the twilight of a professional rugby player’s career, and we’ve been working with the RPA for some time to help them better prepare players for retirement, perhaps even helping them into a career in financial services.
There are three pillars to the support we provide:
First and foremost, we set out to educate players on the importance of financial planning. While money may not be an issue now, it is important to help players live within their means and maximise their financial futures using the opportunities that a career in professional rugby provides.
Together with the RPA, we run seminars on financial awareness and have produced a Financial Awareness Handbook, which provides practical help with budgeting, insurance, pensions, savings and investments. This awareness programme has helped many players over the years. Mathew Tait, former England and Leicester centre, said: “Having a financial plan helped me to see the big picture and set long and short-term life goals. It was a crucial step for me to map out my future. When you have a financial plan, it’s much easier to make the important financial decisions. It gives peace of mind to my family and allows me to focus on my career.”
The Covid-19 crisis has made the need for this awareness programme even more apparent. During lockdown, we pulled together a webinar for rugby players called “Managing your personal finances during a crisis”, which has proved invaluable as players find themselves with a pay cut or – worse – let go altogether.
Work experience with the Sanlam Academy
Players will go on to pursue different paths, but for some, a career in financial planning is very attractive. The Sanlam Academy is a programme that offers the players advice on the qualifications needed, types of job role and where to find opportunities. Initially, we invite players to an insight day, which gives them the opportunity to understand what it means to be a planner and whether this is something they might like to pursue. We then provide the opportunity to gain work experience alongside a practising financial planner who can support their studies by making themselves available to answer questions and offer practical examples to help them understand the theory.
Francois Louw, a 2019 Rugby World Cup winner, and Will Cliff, scrum-half for Sale Sharks, are just two examples of players who have taken advantage of this scheme. Francois is now qualified and has set up a firm – RMS Advisory – with a sports arm dedicated to helping professional athletes manage their finances, lifestyles, and careers. Will is working towards qualifying as a financial planner before his commitment to Sale Sharks ends in 2022. He is studying while training and playing, which means he won’t have to take unpaid time off after rugby to re-qualify.
Of course, not everyone decides they want to become a financial planner or indeed work in financial services at all. For those seeking to start their own business or enter another sector, Sanlam helps them with core skills such as presenting and interviews or understanding what it takes to start a business.
During the Covid-19 crisis, we did what we could to support the established businesses of former rugby players. For example, Feel Good Grapes ran virtual wine-tasting experiences for our clients, an RPA employee hosted a Masterchef virtual event, and a retired player participated in a panel discussion about the parallels between finance and sport, with over 100 clients in ‘virtual’ attendance.
We’re immensely proud of the work we do with the RPA. It demonstrates our commitment to improving financial education, creating opportunities for young people, and supporting businesses. And that commitment doesn’t end there. The Sanlam Academy is currently hosting several graduates on a four-day virtual work-experience programme, where they get to experience the work of different departments across the business and ask questions of our business leaders and product experts.
A mission beyond rugby
It may be a drop in a very large ocean of helping people get on their feet in the wake of one of the worst economic crises the world has known, but every little helps. And this ethos benefits our business and clients alike, as we continually find new talent, and find ways to challenge our thinking.