The following interview is a guest contribution by Benjamin Haynes, Esq. Haynes is a former Division 1 Basketball Player at Oral Roberts University and currently practices law in the State of Florida.
SugarTime Inc. is a Miami, FL based sports agency founded by CEO David Sugarman in 2010. Sugarman is a former Vice President at several prestigious Wall Street investment firms. In 2012, SugarTime Inc. was honored with the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce 2012 Small Business of the Year award. With such a dynamic and unique background, Sports Agent Blog reached out to SugarTime Inc. for the following interview.
Benjamin Haynes: Discuss your background,and why you decided to became a sports agent.
David Sugarman: The decision was the obvious next step for my career, although it was a very complicated and daunting step. As a financial advisor on Wall Street, I handled the portfolios of athletes and celebrities. I saw a trend where many of my clients that are professional athletes did not manage their finances well and plan for their eventual retirement – leaving them with an unstable future. In the course of many years, I witnessed these athletes being deceived and misguided and I kept mental notes of “what I would do if…” and then I finally decided that it was time. The firm originally opened as just a management firm, responsible for finding our clients a place to live, car to drive and a look, all within a prescribed budget. We worked on building the brand of our athletes, getting them connected with the right people – and through that I realized that to really make an impact, I also needed to be their agent, negotiating with the team on their behalf. In Fall 2012 we made the transition from a Sports Management company to a full-service Sports Agency.
Benjamin Haynes: Your sports agency was created in 2010, and yet you just recently became certified with the NBPA and FIBA in November of 2012. What type of work were you doing for your clients before your certification?
David Sugarman: We “took care” of the daily lives of our clients. That means, if we have a client (fresh out of college, just signing his first NBA contract), we would assist them in settling into their new environment. We would find a realtor and give that person a budget, get them a car, insurance and then set-up bill pay for them. We also provide services such as branding, publicity, marketing, endorsements…etc. We take care of all the items that a person needs, but that we believe they should not have to “focus” on. We want their attention to be on the court and not worrying about paying the utilities. We also have very serous discussion with our clients regarding their financial future and set them up with an advisor who can protect their wealth so they are set well beyond their playing days. We always give our clients options too, so when we discuss insurance with them, we offer various providers…etc. It is always very transparent to the client and always their choice how things are handled and who they opt to work with.
Benjamin Haynes: How has your background and experience in financial services helped with your representation of athletes?
David Sugarman: As I mentioned, my previous career as a financial advisor put me in the position to see first-hand the need these athletes have and where the gaps were in the industry as a whole. It was a lack of education and understanding of who was responsible for what, the fees and charges, the goals for the future and so forth. I took it upon myself to try to help as much as I could, someone beyond the constraints of my position within the bank and eventually decided that this was the best way to make a difference and help change things for the better. I take the time now to explain to them all aspects of what we are doing, who is responsible for what and I give them facts, figures and let them make all the decisions.
Benjamin Haynes: What are the primary goals you have for your clients?
David Sugarman: My goals for my clients are to get them the best possible contract throughout their career and then help them make decisions in their lives to create life-long wealth for themselves and their loved ones.
Benjamin Haynes: What is a typical day in your life as a sports agent?
David Sugarman: I can’t say that my days are typical. Within a given week there is a lot of travel on my part. I chat with athletes, chat with their families and those who surround them, I chat with companies interested in sponsorship opportunities, with the press, with community members and business leaders. All-in-all, my life is a lot of talking and a lot of travel. But, each day is different, which is why I keep up this schedule weekly.
Benjamin Haynes: In your opinion, what makes SugarTime Inc. unique as compared to other sports agencies?
David Sugarman: It is hard for me to say that any other agency does this or that wrong. I only know what I think we do well, which is that we really get to know our clients and we support them now and throughout their careers and help them plan for retirement and what comes “next” for them. I think our transparency, our full-service of offerings and the SugarTime Team, which is both dedicated and innovative.