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Adaptive Wealth Partners Founder Michael Eakman Joins Winning Proof Unscripted with Michelle Hill to

February 12, 2021
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To view this and other episodes of Winning Proof Unscripted with Michelle Hill visit Winning Proof Unscripted – YouTube. Michelle can be contacted through her website, winningproof.com

MICHELLE – Hi everybody, this is Michelle Hill, and I am your Legacy Builder at Winning Proof and I am here today with Michael Eakman and we’re going to get into who Michael is and what he does, but I’m going to read his bio before I say hello.

Michael serves as President and Wealth Manager at Adaptive Wealth Partners. Michael has worked in the financial industry since 2011 and made his biggest move in 2020 when he founded Adaptive Wealth Partners. His clients benefit from a shared plan that is simple to understand and implement. Michael believes that his clients deserve to be coached through their financial journey ensuring that each conversation leads to one thing the client can do to better their financial picture.

We can all get help from that.

From having the appropriate amounts of emergency cash, investing in high quality investments that pass the 2000 Acid Test, and positioning his clients and their assets to take advantage of market opportunities. Michael also helps his clients understand that the media’s influence has a negative influence on them achieving their financial goals.

Hmm, we’ll talk about that.

Michael primarily works with athletes, coaches, sports and entertainment professionals and business owners helping them save, grow and protect their wealth. Michael says, just like Simon says, but Michael says the greatest skill we have is being adaptive to the needs of those we coach. So, hi Michael, good afternoon.

MICHAEL – Hi, Michelle, good afternoon.

MICHELLE – I’m glad to have you here and we’re just going to dive into the deep end which I say every time, but um so you say achieving significant wealth seems like an uphill climb to many, and I’m including me.

What would you say are the most important aspects for someone to achieve significant wealth?

MICHAEL – I think the first thing that everyone must do is really define what wealth is. It’s not always a dollar amount, sometimes it’s the ability to have freedom in life or to achieve certain things financially. So, the piece that I take care of is really the financial side of that picture, really just working on helping clients save I think that’s the biggest thing that we all forget, is that we got live within our means, and if that means that we’re spending 90% of our income that’s fine, but let’s live within our means. Let’s be smart about the debt that we take on and let’s invest wisely.

MICHELLE – Yeah, absolutely and um so many people today are living beyond their means because that little thing called the credit card is so readily accessible that you can you think you’re getting things for free but by the time you end up paying interest on those things they end up like three times the price of what you bought them for right?

MICHAEL – Yeah, absolutely I mean if we were to put money on a credit card and not pay it off for 24 months, you’re definitely going to pay more than you need to. More than if you were to pay cash for it, but at the same time as a financial advisor I think that I have to understand that not everyone’s in a position that they don’t need to use a credit card, or they don’t put themselves in a position where they can just pay cash for a car. Some of us need to use debt and there are ways to use debt wisely, that’s one of the things that we counsel and coach our clients on how to do.

MICHELLE – Yeah, absolutely that is so true and there’s a lot of investors who go into this whole wealth realm and if it’s new to them you know there can be a lot of pitfalls and roadblocks and everything so, what are the three top mistakes you see new investors making?

MICHAEL – Great question Michelle, I think that when we look at what we’ve dealt with over the last 10 or 15 years within investments and wealth management the first mistake is that clients aren’t keeping the appropriate amount of emergency cash on hand. Most financial advisors just go tell their clients, “invest, invest, invest” and they forget about that important piece, which is that emergency fund to access when a client has an emergency or just needs to have extra money available to them.

The second mistake that we see clients making or investors making in general is that they’re really not putting themselves in a position mentally or financially to take advantage of downturns in the market. It’s important to do that because it changes the mentality and lets you attack what the goals are. At the end of the day, you can go out and fulfill your dreams because you are taking advantage of those opportunities.

Then the third thing is really that media quote that you talked about. The media is going to put up as much negative news as they can to keep us entertained and keep us watching, to drive media ratings. They’re not there to help you. They’re not a financial advisor. I’ve never heard Cramer go on his show and say hey there’s nothing to do today in the market. He’s there to drive ratings and the news is there to do the same thing and you need to be the owner and the CEO of your financial plan.

MICHELLE – Oh man, that is the truth, and a lot of us and I think especially women sometimes. I’m not sure, but it seems like women give their power to other people and they don’t learn about their own financial picture and learn about all the aspects of financial wealth. Have you found that in your in your practice because I know you deal with the male athletes, but have you found that women make that mistake as far as, giving their power not learning anything about it and just trusting somebody else?

MICHAEL – I don’t think that it’s necessarily a male or female tendency to do that. A lot of times as humans we try to let someone else do what we’re not comfortable doing, or we just have no desire to do. Finances are uncomfortable. It’s not something that most people enjoy talking about, but I definitely don’t think it’s male or female driven. It’s kind of across the board. I look at it as my job to help our clients make better short-term financial decisions and that allows us to have our clients reach their long-term financial goals.

MICHELLE – Okay yeah, and that is very true. I really like what how you answered that because a lot of athletes coming into a whole bunch of wealth, not being raised with a whole bunch of wealth or very little money at all, you know they’re in that same boat. Now you have this huge signing bonus, now you have this huge salary, and you go from you know where’s my next meal going to come from sometimes too I’m rolling in it and so that’s how you help your clients, but how do you help them? What strategies do you use to coach your clients?

MICHAEL – A lot of it is setting up a plan that’s easy to understand. Making sure we have emergency cash. Making sure that their investments pass a stress test and then having cash on the sideline that’s available to come in when you need to sub out a player and take advantage of the opportunity with you know some special teams that come up. I think the biggest thing that we can do for our clients is really understand their situation. You come into money and you might have had it, or you might not have had it, but whether you’re an athlete a business owner or even a nine to five employee, we don’t get taught how to manage money well if at all in high school, junior high or college. So, I think that you have to remember that the foundation has to be there.

You’ve got to look at it and say hey, what can we do at the basic level and get really good at it and then we can take the next step. Just building on that foundation of skills and having the ability to move forward in life and career and understand that you’re going to make mistakes there’s going to be times where life doesn’t work out the way that you anticipated it to. I mean if anything showed us last year, we talked with a lot of players, agents and coaches and the answer that they gave me was why do we need to save we’re never going to be without a season and then all of a sudden, we have a year where seasons get thrown out the window and get moved and people go another six months or six weeks without a paycheck. It’s really important to understand that financially we need to set the foundation and then we can go and grow from there.

MICHELLE – Yeah, and that’s true and I did hear stories about the last uh lockout where and um, I’m not sure if it was the NFL or the NBA, I’m not sure, but some of the players where you know without salary and they were mowing lawns and working at fast food restaurants to survive because that very thing you just said.

MICHAEL – A lot of times when you’re new in any league or any sport you don’t know what questions to ask until you’re forced to ask that question. So, we’ve had players come to us through friends and referrals that didn’t understand that at the end of the season they don’t get a paycheck. They didn’t do a good job saving so we’re trying to work with them in a system where they’re able to flourish and succeed financially, because now they know what questions to ask.

MICHELLE – Yeah and how do you deal with an investor a client who comes to you and is very resistant to learning and just want you to take over the whole thing how do how do you guide them and instruct them and educate them because you’re really teaching them how to fish, you’re not just going to do it all for them. Your job is to educate.

MICHAEL – It is, and to a certain aspect you’re going to get those clients that do come to you and want to learn and want to develop and you get others that simply aren’t interested in it. We don’t do a whole lot of work with clients that aren’t interested but people can still take benefit from the work that we do. Often, when we start working with a prospective client that sometimes there’s no vested interest. There’s no intent to learn anything and I think when you start painting that picture of what life can do and what the finances can do before, during and after your career. That that allows the person to become a little bit more interested, a little bit more vested in understanding and learning but we take on full-service wealth management, so we manage the investments, we manage retirement accounts, and we can still manage those things.

We try to keep it simple, so when I call a client we’re not just calling to check in and say “hey, how are you doing?” when your advisor does that three or four times you stop taking the call and you stop calling them back. A lot of times we keep it nice and short, we keep it simple and let them know “we noticed that this is where we’re at with your cash, you’re at six months’ worth of expenses in your emergency fund. Let’s move it to nine months’ worth of cash in your emergency fund, that way if something comes up you have a little bit of extra income available or simply extra cash available to better your situation, to get through that lockout. To get through something coming up; an injury, something happening in your family, a family member needs some help those types of things are important.

It’s always that coaching aspect, when we talk to a client it’s often looking at their current financial situation, what the market’s doing and then, this is what we need you to do to better your situation.

MICHELLE – Yeah, yeah exactly and um I wonder just on a personal note, what is your favorite thing about working with athletes? I know you work with everybody but what is your favorite thing about working with athletes, professional athletes in your business?

MICHAEL -I enjoy working with people who want to be coached and athletes definitely want to be coached. It’s the highest level of the game, the pinnacle of your sport, decades sometimes of preparation. From being five or six years old playing baseball or basketball and you’re now 15 or 20 years later, you want to be coached but you also want to have that real conversation of those life situations that come up and I find that a lot of advisors that we talk to that also deal with athletes have that same mentality. They enjoy coaching their clients to be better financially.

MICHELLE – Yeah, now what do you find when a pro athlete comes to you and says he or she wants to work with you, uh what’s the first thing you tell them? What’s the first, very first thing you do? I know you said emergency fund, but what’s the very first thing you tell them, because they’re used to people taking advantage of them. They’re used to people; you know in the industry unfortunately so how do you build that credibility with them right out the gate?

MICHAEL – Well, a lot of it is based on what we call research-based investing, this is the situation we’re in, this is where similar situations in the past have led us to be and at the same time, we also just talk about what their goals are I mean at the end of the day it’s their financial plan. We can help by creating and managing it but if it’s not something that they’re ready to take on or they’re interested in taking on there’s not really a reason to work with us I think that’s the biggest thing is being very honest with clients, that if we’re not going to be the right fit, we will absolutely tell you that we aren’t.

I had a connection that we had that asked me if I did some specific types of investments and I let them know that I could, but I had someone who specializes in that space, and to let me go out there and get them introduced. You want the specialist for what that client is looking at and sometimes the specialist is us and sometimes it’s not and I think being honest with the investor, with clients and with the public is the most important thing that we could do.

MICHELLE – Yeah, absolutely it is. Can you share a success story of an athlete that came to you 20, 21, 22 years old maybe and you were able to help them? You don’t have to mention any names or anything but just a scenario to give an example of how you can help somebody.

MICHAEL – In my viewpoint as an athlete you have the personal brand, you’ve built your brand and with the college situation changing in the NCAA and the world changing around us we had a client that called us and said they wanted to buy a specific car and so we looked at it and we said hey you could pay cash for it. It was $90,000 vehicle; you have the money to do it but what if we reached out to the dealership and worked out an arrangement to where you do the voiceovers for commercials? They ended up doing the voiceovers for commercials and then also doing a signing event at the dealership later that year, the dealership prepaid the lease on the vehicle that he wanted to drive so we end up saving the client $90,000 on the vehicle. They turned it in at the end of the day after two years. That’s of one of those things that we do extra that’s above and beyond what most financial advisors do.

I think that the biggest difference is understanding that at the end of the day, that whistle is going to blow. You’re going to play a final play whether you expect it and you can plan it out, or whether it’s it just happens. You get cut, you get an injury, you lose the desire to play the game, it’s just not the right fit for your family to move to another city, sometimes you can’t control that and being adaptive and being willing to help clients and our athletes get there and understand what that big picture I believe is the biggest thing that we can do for them.

MICHELLE – For sure. That was the best barter deal I have ever heard of it’s really good.

Okay, so what prompted you to start Adaptive Wealth Partners? What motivated you?

MICHAEL – It was really in the name. I was sitting down thinking about how we can best serve the clients that we have and the clients that we are going to work with in the future and it was really being able to adapt to each one of these players or client’s situations. I didn’t want to have to put the clients into one box that fit everyone so to speak, I wanted to create a firm where we truly believe in the mission of bettering people’s financial situations, giving clients the tools and resources to have the confidence in the decisions that they make on a daily basis and also being able to adapt to their needs.

To be able to go out and help them in their sense, so if they needed help with a car purchase, whether they are paying cash or through a loan. I wanted to make sure we could help them with making better short-term financial decisions. I think that the biggest idea was that we want to be true to ourselves and we want to be able to give back to others.

MICHELLE – I really like that name too you just described it that describes your business perfectly. Yeah, so if somebody is really feeling like they’re not in a financial position to come to you say they’re not an athlete they’re not making five million dollars, 20 million dollars a year, they’re just a regular joe um what do you say to those people and what steps do you give them?

MICHAEL – That’s the nice thing about this practice is that we don’t have to only take on the clients that make you know millions of dollars a year we’ve taken on clients that make70, 80, $100,000 a year at the same time but we know that using the tools that we have for clients that make multi-million dollar contracts are the same tools we can give to someone that doesn’t make those contracts so I think that the biggest step is finding either a resource or an advisor for those clients that can really benefit and bring some opportunity to learn how to run your finances in a consistent way is probably the biggest thing that we do but there’s going to be a financial advisor out there that can help you so if you reach out to CPA’s, attorneys, people that you know there’s plenty of financial advisors out there in this country that are doing really good, quality work for their clients. We just have to find them.

MICHELLE – Yeah for sure and since there that kind of leads me to another question too is that since there are so many financial advisors, wealth partners, what sets your company apart from the rest? what is your USP; your unique selling proposition?

MICHAEL – Well for me I don’t feel like we’re selling anything. This is something that everyone’s going to benefit from financially. I mean we’ve got a client that’s 11 years old, that puts away $50 or $60 every time he’s got a birthday or a holiday. Things like that make me feel like we are serving our clients, not selling them anything. We have a unique perspective in that we have a simple plan, we communicate that plan with our clients we talk about what’s important to our clients if something’s not important to a client then maybe we need to put it on the backburner and really focus on what they need now in order to get to where they can be in 20 or 30 years because if we don’t take care of today and we don’t make good financial decisions now they’re not going to be successful financially in the future.

MICHELLE – Yeah for sure and you know my questions keep on coming. So, I’m going to ask you another one.

MICHAEL – Go ahead.

MICHELLE – What if somebody is 40 or 50 years old, they don’t have a whole lot saved up they’ve behind the eight ball for whatever life circumstances they’ve experienced. What do you tell those people who maybe they are running out of hope, running out of like it’s never going to happen for me so just throw caution to the wind? What do you tell those people?

MICHAEL – I tell people like that that they need to stay patient, most investors that have a million dollars in their account when we did the research on it they don’t start saving until their early 40’s so it’s okay to not get a head start early in your investment career it’s okay to start later starting today is better than starting tomorrow or six months from now take care of what you can take care of and focus on what you need to do my situation is I’ve got four wonderful kids but I know that kids cost an average of four hundred and forty three thousand dollars to raise them and watch them grow from zero to eighteen so having kids can be expensive I had chosen to have them earlier in life well that’s going to give me the opportunity to save more later in life when I didn’t get a head start on that I think time can be a beautiful thing for investments and for savings but at the same time you’ve got to understand that not everyone’s in a situation where they can start when they’re 17, 18, 19 or 20 years old sometimes we have to take care of life sometimes that is a 40, 50 or 60 year old, we’ve got a 94 year old client in our office that we absolutely adore and want to take care of and make sure that they’re doing the things that they need to better their situation better the family situation we’ve got four or five generations of kids that we can help take care of financially by managing their investments so it’s never too late to get started the only time you know really it is too late is when you pass away so any time up until that you’re good to grow.

MICHELLE – Okay, I like that good to grow that’s right so my final question after uh before I ask you know you how people can connect with you but my final question is how can parents you know you’re the parent you and your wife are the parents of four kids what can parents do to teach their kids about uh responsible money and managing their money even from a young age because that’s like you said earlier it’s not taught in school so it needs to be and some of the Dave Ramsey peace university and stuff that is in some high schools from what I hear what I’ve seen around but generally it’s the parents teaching the kids so what are your top tips for that.

MICHAEL – That’s a great question and the truth of it is that you must be flexible I mean I’ve got four different kids, with four different personalities so there’s four different learning styles. I’ve got one that’s a saver I’ve got you know one of my younger kids that we turned around the other day, he’s like I have two-hundred-dollar bills, can you put that in my savings?

As a parent I’m like where did you get those and he’s like I’ve just been saving it up and I got it for my birthday, and I’ve been trading it in, and I went to my wife and I was like where did he get these from, and she says yeah, I switched out some $20 bills for him a couple weeks ago then I’ve got other a couple other kids that are just our spenders. So, it really is personalizing the advice as a parent to our kids you know talk to them about bills talk to them about how to write a check talk to them about how direct deposit works.

The finances in my household growing up were very hidden I knew that my parents were not as well off as some of the other people around me. Finances were hidden and they don’t need to be. I mean, I knew that when money was tight, I knew when money wasn’t and I think that’s something that you can explain to your kids and we can talk to them about real life situations that go on, that’s where there’s a coaching and learning aspect to every situation that you’re in.

I was talking to my son we went to the grocery store on Saturday and he’s seven now and he was like why is the milk at the back of the store and I tell him at the store they put the milk and the cheese and the eggs and the things that you need regularly in the back of the store so that you have to walk through the whole store to get to the back and to come forward and like the golden parent moment was when he goes is that why at Walmart they put the electronics in the back of the store so you have to walk through everything to get to the back and then you have to walk through it again.

MICHELLE – Yeah, absolutely that makes sense but to be able to put it in their terms, right?

MICHAEL – This is why you save for that rainy day fund do you remember when we had a situation in 2020 where mom and dad had to stay home or lost a job and we had money in savings to benefit us and to keep paying the bills and keep a roof over your head but then at the same time celebrate the successes right celebrate your kids love the success and they love doing things well and you know let them know when they did great job saving some of their money from their birthday money or Christmas holiday money um and then when they start doing work you know you can actually sit down and you can talk to them and say look this is the benefit of work and taxes and just having that open conversation I think is the best thing that that us as parents can do for our children

MICHELLE – I absolutely love that and it was funny because when I homeschooled my kids for I don’t know two or three years when my daughter I think was in maybe ninth grade, tenth grade and then my son was in fifth grade and it was weird because we went to the ATM one demand you know I was trying to teach them you know the same things you’re talking about and I said well come here let me show you how oh mom I can do it I’ve seen you do it a million times and that still resonates with me because that’s how they learn they see us doing it a million times and that’s how they learn this is this is what you do with your money so I thought that was really a simple but profound lesson for me.

MICHAEL – Absolutely and you’d be amazed at the things that they guess I shouldn’t be amazed anymore because I know that they’re always watching but I always have this mentality as a parent that I don’t necessarily want my kids to follow in my footsteps I want them to walk further than my footsteps allow me to.

MICHELLE – Gosh i love that too and I’m looking at the tree around the picture in your background and it reminds me of you know and I don’t know people say this still, but my dad always used to say yarwhip do you know we don’t have a money tree growing in our backyard the trees bearing you have to put some money onto the tree and same thing we do with the investments. I mean you’re going to add some fertilizer you’re going to water your investments you’re going to take care of your investments and my kids are my biggest investment and to be able to give them a better opportunity at life I think is probably every parent’s dream and we’ve found a way to make that work in our family.

MICHELLE – That is beautiful I love that and if people are piqued by what you’ve had to say which I’m sure they are how can they connect with you on social media how can they contact you?

MICHAEL – So you can reach us on our website adaptivewealthpartners.com you can also contact us by phone number 702 840-2501and then we’re also available by email social media Facebook LinkedIn as well.

MICHELLE – Okay that is wonderful, and my very final question is, and I know this is a time leap and it’s you know um this is going to be played afterward who’s your pick for the Super Bowl?

MICHAEL – I grew up as a Raiders fan, so I have a hard time rooting for Kansas City, but I love what Tom Brady has done. Tom Brady to me is that quiet leader where you don’t hear a lot in the media about the things, he does other things he says, but the ability for him to go into a program and really focus and direct and just know where he can be a benefit to the team. So, I wasn’t a tom brady fan a couple years ago but he’s slowly grown on me and I’m hoping Tampa Bay pulls it off.

MICHELLE – I say good to that. Well thank you so much Michael I appreciate you being on today any final words of wisdom you want to share with people who are watching.

MICHAEL – Just be ready to be coachable and make the most of your financial situation, make good short-term decisions because you’ll have a better long-term outlook.

MICHELLE – Amen to that for sure and I just want to let people know if you want to get in touch with winning proof you can contact me on my website winningproof.com all my winning proof unscripted interviews are on YouTube under winning proof unscripted and you can contact me. I’m on LinkedIn and twitter and uh Facebook and Instagram and all that so you can contact me you know how to contact me if you really want to.

So, thank you for watching another episode of winning proof unscripted.

For more information download Michael’s book, Athlete Wealth Guide.