From Football To Financial Plan

When defensive back Forey Duckett was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in 1993, he signed a contract worth $170,000 per year. “It was long before mega contracts came about,” he quips. Still, it was enough money to provide an idyllic lifestyle. But three years later, Duckett’s professional career was permanently sidelined by a training camp injury from which he never quite recuperated.

Duckett, 35, went on to score a job in auto sales, but at $70,000 per year, it paid less than half of his NFL salary. Looking to generate additional streams of income, he and his wife, Janie, a 33-year-old model, formed Forjane Inc. The entity, launched in 2002, secures modeling contracts and generates annual revenues of roughly $50,000. The Seattle resident recently decided to tackle another occupation–realtor.

Duckett had invested steadily since his NFL days. Unfortunately, with the exception of a house he bought for $290,000 in 1999, the results were nothing short of disastrous. Duckett lost a fortune in the market, about $170,000, using his own flawed investment model. By 2002 he was ready to pursue a solid investment strategy. That’s when he reconnected with David Norman, a San Jose, California-based financial adviser with Smith Barney. The two played college football together. Since then Duckett has strongly adhered to Declaration of Financial Empowerment principle No 3: to commit to a program of retirement planning and investing.

“My investment style at the time lacked structure. When my wife and I sat down with David, he taught us diversification and gave us clarity,” Duckett says. “He showed us how to invest for our children and ourselves. He opened our eyes to other areas to invest, especially in different parts of the world.”

Norman makes it a point to educate clients about the markets so that they can understand his methodology. The Ducketts’ goals are threefold: to create a nest egg that will allow them to retire early, to garner more modeling assignments, and to save for the education of their 4-year-old and 1-year-old daughters.

At the time the Ducketts had a portfolio that was valued at $130,000 and consisted solely of technology stocks, such as Lucent, Cisco, Sun Microsystems, and Microsoft, many of which experienced turmoil during the height of the tech crash in 2000. Norman had the couple shift their asset allocation by investing in equities diversified across different sectors. He specifically used exchange traded funds as the core of the portfolio because his research showed most investors focused on domestic products although foreign products were doing very well. ETFs are passive index funds, like traditional index mutual funds, that allow investors to trade a portfolio of securities in a single transaction. Since ETFs are traded like stocks, they generally have lower expense ratios and can be more tax efficient.

The Ducketts’ asset allocation model became 60% international ETFs, 25% U.S. ETFs, 10% U.S. mutual funds, and 5% cash. Norman placed 18% of the overall portfolio, in energy ETFs, which benefitted from the run up in energy prices, fueling a 48% return last