Brandon Copeland, NFL linebacker for the New England Patriots, has made the most of his opportunities with careful and informed financial decisions. For Copeland the pandemic has proved a difficult time, with in-person interactions on hold, the NFL on hold and the stock market experiencing increased volatility. Despite these challenges, getting his message out is as important as ever, whether it is philanthropic and community efforts to assist people with financial challenges or increasing financial literacy during a wild time for stock investing.
Copeland, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business, is passing down his lessons and financial journey to students at his alma mater through the teaching of his course, Life 101. He encourages students to be wary of financial risk and make smart investments that align with their personal interests to remain in touch and engaged with investments and market news.
With many individuals at home and betting on pro sports on hiatus, many sports fans, fantasy sports players and gamblers are turning to the stock market. Copeland advises any individual getting into the market to do their research and become well-informed before jumping into stocks.
He is not the only notable figure from the world of sports worried about first-time investors in this market. Dallas Mavericks' owner Mark Cuban told CNBC earlier this week that stocks look similar to the dot-com bubble right now, but with interest so high from young people about investing, Cuban noted that it is a good time to educate the next generation of investors, like an 18-year-old niece of his who recently asked for stock picks.
Financial literacy takes on heightened importance during periods of economic uncertainty. As part of his efforts to increase financial literacy, "Professor Cope" — Copeland teaches a course called Life 101 at UPenn — he advises people to invest in areas of the market that match their interests so they stay informed and are more able to be knowledgeable and careful regarding the investments they might make.
"There's a lot of people ... trying to jump into investing for the first time, which is great," Copeland, a member of the CNBC Financial Wellness Council, said Thursday on CNBC's "Halftime Report."
"What I want to make sure that everyone does is come to us, come to other people, seek financial advice and ensure learning, making sure you're not going in without researching and as much knowledge as possible, so you can make the right investments, the right plays for yourself, and your family, and for the rest of your life," he said.
While the bull market gains from the March bottom might be great, Copeland stresses the importance of having multiple streams of income, especially as an athlete who knows his football career will come to an end. By investing in the markets and private start-ups, Copeland is ensuring that he has a steady stream of income with or without his football career. He's also frugal, in the past spending only 10% of his income.
Copeland recommends seeking financial advice from outside sources, such as his Beyond the Basics foundation, which works to serve underprivileged youth communities. The mission of Copeland's organization is to empower underrepresented communities and individuals, specifically through financial literacy programs and financial assistance.
The pandemic has been an immensely difficult time for many, with unemployment soaring to high levels and job losses among minorities particularly high, and many of those job losses not likely to reverse soon.
For Copeland, there has been no better time to increase his philanthropic outreach and try to make a positive impact on people. With in-person interaction not possible due to public health concerns, Copeland's organization has been expanding its initiatives virtually, donating to food-relief efforts and reaching out to communities in his new city of Boston, where he will be joining the New England Patriots as a linebacker this fall.
Copeland's foundation helped fund the donation of $50 gift cards to surprised customers at New England-based retailer Shaw's.
"Trying to introduce myself in the right way, put a smile on people's faces, we were able to give 500 people $50 gift cards to spend $25,000. We're just getting started, so trying to surprise people, let people know we're all in this thing together, and again, a way to reintroduce myself to the city and not be wearing an opposing team's jersey," said Copeland, who previously played for the New York Jets and Detroit Lions.
"When you think about legacy, when you think about impact and what really lasts ... I'd rather people be talking about the great things and great ideas I was able to give them, the gift cards we were able to give them, as opposed to a tackle in a random game on the big stage. ... Ultimately, I think the impact of financial literacy and teaching people those type of things, those have ripple effects that will last long beyond my time on this Earth," Copeland said.
Disclosure: NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Acorns.