Financial power plays: Derek Sanderson

Financial power plays: Derek Sanderson

“I learned tough lessons from wasting millions on booze and drugs”


Derek Sanderson

Derek Sanderson

Age: 68

NHL career: 1965 to 1978

Position: Centre

Teams: Boston Bruins, New York Rangers, St. Louis Blues, Vancouver Canucks, Pittsburgh Penguins

Where he is now: managing director of The Sports Group in Boston and advisor with Howland Capital Management

“I learned tough lessons from wasting millions on booze and drugs. Now I manage money for other hockey players”

You’ve probably heard about the many ways you can squander a fortune—and most of them happened to me. It’s no secret: I made millions of dollars in hockey, but within a few years of retiring I’d wasted all my money on booze, drugs, and frivolous spending for friends. I was the guy at the bar who bought the world a drink, but almost nobody showed up when I really needed them. One day in the late 1980s I finally woke up, but by then I had nothing. So I had to start all over from square one. I went back to school, found a friend who became my mentor, and became a financial advisor in Boston, where I now have 20 NHL clients.

You have to take an interest in how your money is invested and educate yourself. There is no substitute for that. I teach my clients about money by doing a few simple things. First, I make a point of simplifying financial statements, educating them on sound investing principles and showing them the importance of monitoring their returns. That’s key. I also teach them about taxes and how they can slice their earnings in half. I help them understand how volatility is not the same as risk, and how a good portfolio is put together.

The real key to growing wealth is focusing on the long term. I tell people not to look at their investment returns every day. If you’re young, it doesn’t take a lot of money to save a lot of money by age 65. Don’t take on any more risk than you have to. Positive compounding over time adds up to staggering returns.

I tell my clients they don’t need to be working after their hockey career if they manage their money right. They won’t have to dance to a younger person’s drum. The key is to take control, get your questions answered, and if your advisor won’t do that, then fire him. I wish I had known that from the beginning of my career. I wouldn’t have been so foolish with my money, and my wife and kids would have had so much more than we do now.

Still, I love my job and I get up every morning feeling needed and appreciated. That’s the real key to a successful life.”