She may not have prevailed Sunday night at the Grammy Awards, but the success of megastar Taylor Swift's No. 1 selling album may leave financial advisors wondering, “who’s managing this 25-year-old’s wealth?"
One possibility: Her dad. Scott Swift, a Merrill Lynch advisor, has decades of experience in the business, and has already had a hand in his daughter's success.
While it isn't known whether Swift relies on her dad's financial expertise, the relationship begs the question: Is it wise for celebrities to use family members as advisors?
- Read more: Smarter Ways to Work With the Stars
Susan Bradley, founder of the Florida-based Sudden Money Institute, which trains financial advisors to work with people with sudden financial change, says that if the celebrity has a good relationship with the family member and that family member is a seasoned financial advisor, there’s no problem.
“But relationship is key,” says Bradley. “If the family relationship has a history of being positive with strong communication, then it’s great.”
'I CAN BROKE STOCKS'
Swift has shown admiration for her father, suggesting they are close. She has even said she wanted to be a financial advisor just like him. A YouTube interview shows Swift explaining that, from the age of 8, when her friends aspired to become astronauts and ballerinas, she desired to follow in the footsteps of her father.
“My dad is a stockbroker. He lives and breathes it. … My dad is so passionate about what he does, like in the way I'm passionate about music. … He's so gung-ho for his job and I saw how happy it made him, and I just thought, like, ‘I can broke stocks,'” the superstar says in the video.
Scott Swift started the Swift Group in 1981 in Wyomissing, Pa., and now manages client assets from Nashville, Tenn., where he moved over a decade ago with his family to support his daughter’s passion for country music. At the Swift Group, the elder Swift focuses on investment strategies for high-net-worth individual investors, business owners and corporate executives, according to the group’s website.
FINRA's BrokerCheck shows that he is involved with different businesses related to his daughter's career, which continues to soar: her album 1989 landed three Grammy nominations and sold 3.66 million copies, according to Nielsen Music -- suggesting business is booming for the younger Swift. It could not be determined whether Scott Swift, who declined to comment, manages his daughter's wealth in his capacity as an advisor.
While working with family can be a wise choice, Bradley says relationships can turn sour if the celebrity relies on a family member who isn’t an expert in the area of financial advice. Celebrities and athletes often make the mistake of turning to an unqualified family member for guidance, she says.
Bradley speculates that if Swift and other young celebrities are relying on parents who are financial advisors, that parent is likely managing several different kinds of financial experts, skilled in specialties like real estate, hedge fund investing and private equity. “That’s what a really good financial advisor does. They do what they’re good at and they look for advisors to give better advice than they would give,” Bradley says.
Austin Philbin, senior vice president of relationship management at Dynasty Financial Partners, who works with many athletes, says there are advisors who believe "that having similar clients helps capture others, but it's not a prerequisite.” I'd hope an individual with the level of net worth like Taylor's has taken an exhaustive approach to selecting an advisor with the experience and skill set to meet her needs,” Philbin says.
Another celebrity related to an advisor is Super Bowl champion Tom Brady. His father, the elder Thomas Brady, the founder of Boston-based Thomas Brady & Associates. The firm specializes in estate planning, business planning and insurance review. The firm's team of advisors has backgrounds in insurance, estate planning, non-qualified executive benefit planning, and tax and business law.
The younger Brady also has shown interest in the financial services industry. Before playing professional football and leading the Patriots to multiple Super Bowls victories, Tom Brady pursued a career at Merrill Lynch, where he worked as an intern one summer. But a different career path beckoned.
Let us know if you're an advisor related to a celebrity, or know one who is, by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.