Preparing for life after professional sport

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James Hildreth is a professional cricketer for Somerset. He also works as a private banking executive at Arbuthnot Latham.

One of the strangest things about being a professional sportsperson is facing the prospect of retiring twice. For many, the first retirement- from the game you love – can be a very difficult transition.

As part of my transition to a new career, I have been working part-time for Arbuthnot Latham at their office in Exeter and studying for my Level Four Diploma in Financial Services. I started this journey back in 2019, but in that time I’ve learned some important lessons: firstly – and reassuringly – just how extensive the crossover between the two worlds is.

From batsman to banker

So many skills that I learned playing cricket continue to serve me well. Clearly, the environments are very different but being goal-driven is something that applies across disciplines. Emotional control is hugely important. I’m currently getting over a bad hamstring injury, it takes time, you have to be patient, understand there might be setbacks. You also need perseverance, you have to be determined, develop a plan that you believe in, but also be prepared to change course to succeed. Finally, you need people skills; this is something I really enjoy about banking and professional cricket. It might surprise many, but in cricket, you’re constantly having to meet and connect with different people; not just team mates, but meeting fans and sponsors after games and working with the local community.

Have an eye on tomorrow

Cricketers are lucky. Our union, the Professional Crickets Association are constantly reminding us that cricket is only a first career. They go to great lengths to link us up with workshops and networking events; they’re constantly encouraging us to try new things. In a strange way, there are so many crossovers between what I’m doing now, and my chosen second career in banking; it’s all about planning. An entrepreneur might be thinking about their exit strategy or financially planning for the future, likewise, these are both things that people associated with sport should think about.

Plan for the future

For me, the question is how am I going to cope with the change and lead a fulfilling life after sport?

Arbuthnot Latham recently partnered with the League Manger’s Association. They are the industry body for professional football managers in England. It’s been really interesting seeing how the bank supports sports people whose lives can be rather transitional, you might not know from one year to the next whether you’ll be employed or where, it’s perhaps even more difficult being a manager than being a player. A sports club, in whatever industry is likely to have around 40 pros on their books, but only one manager. It’s incredibly uncertain and you need the right network around you.

My transition is a slower one. Last winter, I worked a couple of days a week for Arbuthnot Latham, planning it in around my training schedule. I am doing the same this winter and really enjoying it.

The camaraderie in the office in Exeter is also great. Playing cricket for 18 years, you don’t expect to find that sort of team spirit in financial services, especially when you’re expecting it to be a bit stuffy, but it’s really different to what I expected.

The full version of this article is available here.

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