Why everyone needs an Olympian on their financial team

Coyle Financial Counsel Welcomes Olympian Karen Vilorio!

Olympic and professional athletes make great clients for financial advisors, but they can also bring powerful drive, discipline, and insights to the other side of the desk. Olympic swimmer, Karen Vilorio, has done just that by officially joining the Coyle Financial Counsel team in July of this year in the Naples (FL) office.

Florida Gulf Coast University recruited the native of Honduras for their swim team during her senior year of high school. She made the tough decision to leave her family and country behind to take this opportunity to pursue both her Olympic aspirations as well as her academic goals.

Not Your Typical Olympic Hopeful

Karen began swimming at age four in Honduras, but stopped in 1997 after hurricane Mitch wreaked havoc in the area. It wasn’t until age 9 that she got back in the water on a regular basis. She began competing at age 11 and by age 12 was competing at the international level. After accepting the offer from Florida Gulf Coast University late in her senior year of high school, she committed to putting in the grueling work necessary to qualify for the Honduran Olympic team.

With the 2012 Olympics in London only a year away, she had a daunting task ahead of her. “The months leading into qualifying for the Olympics were some of the most stressful of my life,” Karen says. Her coach, Neal Studd, pushed and she dug deep, qualifying for the Honduran Olympic swim team at the age of eighteen. About competing in the Olympics she says, “There’s absolutely nothing like the Olympics. You may have competed internationally or in the world championships, but nothing compares to the feeling of being an Olympic athlete.”

After she finished with her college swimming in spring 2015, she told her coach that she didn’t want to train for the next Olympic Games to be held in Rio de Janeiro. After much arguing back-and-forth, she showed up at practice ready to put in the work for Rio. As she got further along in her academic career, her workload intensified accordingly.

Understandably, many college athletes choose a less rigorous academic load so they can successfully balance the hours of athletic training required with their studies. Not Karen. She chose to major in Finance even while putting heart and soul into training for the Olympic trials.

Her coach, a finance major himself, counseled her and arranged her training schedule in such a way as to accommodate the more intense academic load.

Serendipity in a Stack of Resumes

Fast forward four years when Rob O’Dell began searching for an intern for the Florida office. Rob visited the FGCU Finance Department to access their database of recently graduated and soon-to-graduate student resumes. “I clicked resume after resume and nothing caught my eye until I came across one mentioning FGCU swim team athlete Karen Vilorio. I made contact with her via email and she got right back to me.”

“It was a perfect match because I was specifically looking for a position where I could work part time, while training for the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro,” says Karen. She came on board in 2016 as a part time intern and continued to train hours per day in hopes of qualifying for the upcoming games. Though she didn’t qualify, she achieved a personal record, shaving time off her previous best. Both Coach Neal Studd and Karen were happy with her performance and her hard-fought decision to try one last time.

With that behind her, she has made the decision to leave competitive swimming behind to pursue a career with Coyle Financial Counsel full time. She’ll compete in a final race this Saturday in Ontario: FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) 2016.

Everyone Truly Does Need a Coach

Surprisingly, the intense demands on elite athletes uniquely prepares them to excel as professionals in the financial sector. “One major thing I’ve learned from my athletic experience,” says Karen,” is that no matter how prepared you are physically, you must be prepared mentally or you won’t do well.” How does the mental aspect of elite athleticism translate into success as a financial advisor? The lessons she learned have given her strong leadership skills, but also taught her to be coachable. “Respecting those who know more than you and accepting their advice on how to get closer to your goals is critical to success in any profession, but especially in the world of wealth management,” she explains.

In fact, back in 2015 Rob wrote a tribute to his friend, the legendary Estero High School cross country and track coach Jeff Sommer, who passed away unexpectedly. The article’s message clarified the fact that everyone needs a coach. “Karen was coached as an athlete and one day she’ll coach clients about financial planning. Right now, I’m coaching her to prepare her for that day,” Rob observed.

Good coaching facilitates the mental preparation necessary to succeed in anything in life. Karen believes that coaching teaches that even though you may have had a bad race or training day, it just gives you an opportunity to work harder to get better, smarter, and faster. Likewise, without an understanding, knowledgeable coach like Rob, succeeding in her new career would be much harder.

Now that you know a little more about her, please join us in welcoming Karen Vilorio to the Coyle Financial Counsel family. We’re happy that she has chosen to grow with us as she navigates new waters — those of wealth management.

Richness comes from helping others achieve their potential.

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Rob O’Dell, CFP®, serves clients in our Naples, FL office. With more than 20 years of personal financial planning experience, Rob knows that successful financial planning involves a distinct process, not a one-time event.

Rob has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Financial Planning Magazine, The Daily Herald and Money Magazine. He was a contributing author on the Third Edition of the Florida Domicile Handbook. Learn more about Rob O’Dell.