Personal Finance

Olympics gold medalist Chloe Kim’s next hurdle at age 17: Sudden wealth

Key Points
  • For a few stars of the Winter Games, the challenges of sudden wealth will hit them when they leave Pyeongchang.
  • Athletes and average Americans alike would benefit from some sound advice from financial professionals.
Olympian Chloe Kim talks Twitter, sponsorships
Olympian Chloe Kim talks Twitter, sponsorships

It may not be as difficult as mastering back-to-back frontside 1080s, but coming in to sudden wealth has its own challenges.

For a few stars of these Olympic Games, like snowboarder Chloe Kim and ice skater Adam Rippon, that's exactly what they are facing.

Such successful — and likable — young athletes are well positioned for long-term endorsement deals, experts say, following in the footsteps of skier Lindsey Vonn and snowboarder Shaun White, who are now worth millions.

Chloe Kim of the U.S. trains at the 2018 Winter Olympics on Feb 10th, 2018.
Mike Blake | Reuters

Kim, the 17-year-old gold medalist from California, already counts Nike, Toyota and Mondelez on her roster.

The 28-year-old Rippon came into the Winter Games without any major sponsors but he's not expected to go out that way. (The athlete from northeast Pennsylvania has said that it wasn't that long ago when he didn't even have enough money for groceries.)

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Whatever large endorsement checks now come their way, they will go hand in hand with the difficulties that many other athletes face, including learning to budget and investing wisely right from the start, said Justin McCarthy, a managing partner at Mariner Wealth Advisors in New York who works with athletes.

"Make sure you account for the next 6-, 12- and 18-month time frame," he said. "Make a short-term plan to cover personal expenses including travel, trainers, taxes and insurance."

"The reality is, at least in the beginning, a bulk of that will go back into their career."

From there, McCarthy recommends creating a long-term investment portfolio. "The typical 25-year-old will continue to grow their income for the next 40 years," he said. Athletes are another story — they're "earning 90 percent of their income in the next five to 10 years, so you want to plan as though they are 55-years-old."

"The upside is that you don't work as long," said Michelle Marquez, a financial advisor at Merrill Lynch in Los Angeles who also works with professional athletes. "The downside is that there is very little room to grow up — that's where planning comes in to play."

Marquez advises her clients to build a portfolio with a conservative asset allocation: under 50 percent in equity and the rest in fixed income.

To protect yourself and your retirement, it's important that you understand the type of advice you're getting when you meet with your financial advisor. Here are the key questions you should ask.

With that, put together a team that will give you good advice, she said, including an advisor, business manager and CPA. "High net-worth clients surround themselves with professionals, not fans or cousins or other family members," Marquez said.

Finally, leave some room to splurge, McCarthy added, after all, these athletes have earned it. But store "that money in a separate account to keep it from becoming a habit."

Disclosure: CNBC parent NBCUniversal owns NBC Sports and NBC Olympics. NBC Olympics is the U.S. broadcast rights holder to all Summer and Winter Games through the year 2032.

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