BlackRock Launches Financial Wellness Program For Athletes

The iShares Future Baller$ Program will help educate professional basketball prospects.

BlackRock Inc. announced a program Tuesday intended to support professional basketball prospects as they acquire significant wealth and try to realize their long-term financial goals.  

The iShares Future Baller$ Program will help players set portions of their total iShares sponsorship compensation in an investment portfolio and discuss their investments with financial coaches. The initial team includes five of the game’s most hopeful new talents: Bennedict Mathurin, E.J. Liddell, Jaden Hardy, Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren. 

These athletes will soon begin the phase of their lives where it is critical to know of and understand how to apply investing and financial planning concepts. Professionals have already taken wealth acquisition to new heights, including Michael Jordan, the first professional athlete to become a billionaire, in 2014, and Lebron James, who became the first active player to cross that threshold. 

While the players have demonstrated their commitment to achieving dominance at the highest levels of play thus far, BlackRock expressed excitement in launching the iShares Future Baller$ Program, reflecting its objective to help more people experience financial well-being.  

The Financial Long Game 

"Through this program, the players are demonstrating a commitment to playing the financial long game and taking steps to inspire all investors to take control of their financial futures,” BlackRock said in a release. 

IShares is the largest exchange-traded funds provider. Through the program, each player is receiving $100,000 to invest and the ability to work with financial coach Lauren Simmons. In 2017, at the age of 22, Simmons became the youngest female trader in Wall Street history and only the second Black woman trader in New York Stock Exchange history. 

In return, each player has dedicated a portion of their iShares sponsorship compensation to an investment portfolio and will participate in an individual financial coaching session with Simmons. During the financial coaching sessions, she and the players will discuss their relationship with investing, and Simmons will educate the players on financial wellness principles.  

According to Simmons, she will help the young players join the next generation of investors, and hopes her work will influence others to improve their own financial wellness.  

Investors seeking to learn alongside the iShares Future Baller$ team and invest using iShares ETFs can access and purchase over 350 iShares ETFs commission free from Fidelity Investments, the official brokerage service provider of the iShares Future Baller$ Program. 

BlackRock estimates that 40 million new self-directed investment accounts were opened around the world since 2020, with 30 million new accounts in the U.S. alone, surpassing the total from the prior decade.  

Yet BlackRock found in a May 2022 survey of 1,000 Americans that less than one in three Americans feel confident in their investing knowledge. In all, 88% said they would like to take a more long-term approach to investing, and 91% conceded it is easy to be misled by short-term gains. Today’s investing environment, with increased volatility, steep inflation, rising interest rates and fears of a recession, has challenged investors’ confidence in the long term. 

Newly minted basketball successes are not unlike other young investors hoping to make all the right moves with their newfound wealth. Like millions of other Americans, many of the young players are just beginning to learn how to invest for their financial future.