Former Warrior Troy Murphy’s Mission to Bring Financial Literacy to the Next Generation
Years before Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green put the Golden State Warriors back on the map—and nearly a decade before Kevin Durant turned a perennial title contender into the NBA’s latest dynasty—the Bay Area was a backwater in professional basketball. Yet, for all of Golden State’s struggles on the court, the franchise still produced plenty of successful people in life beyond the game.
Take Troy Murphy. The 6’11” forward averaged a double-double in three of his five-and-a-half seasons with the Warriors, who selected him out of Notre Dame with the No. 14 pick in the 2001 NBA draft. Despite Troy’s efforts, Golden State won less than 40 percent of its games while he was on the roster.
Nonetheless, Troy would amass more than $66 million over the course of his 12 NBA seasons. With that financial wherewithal, along with the wealth he’s added through smart investments, the 39-year-old is hoping to help others manage their money—and avoid the pitfalls associated with sudden wealth—through his new venture.
In March, Troy, who finished his undergraduate studies at Columbia University after leaving Notre Dame early as a junior for the NBA, opened Sweven Wealth in Las Vegas. The name comes from an old English term that translates to “vision” or “dream,” which he adopted after a visit across the pond last summer.
“I was at the British Museum and I'm a big fan of British literature—’Canterbury Tales’ and everything like that,” Troy tells CloseUp360. “So when I was thinking of this company, it was my vision or dream to put this thing together. The setting I was in at the time and the words seemed to make sense with the ‘sudden wealth’ and the SW.”
Troy Murphy spent 12 seasons in the NBA, including five-and-a-half with the Warriors. (Courtesy of Troy Murphy)
Troy’s desire to help and understand wealth management has been on his mind for most of his adult life.
“After my junior year, I was 20 years old and I was in this position where I was going to become a professional, and I really didn't know how to manage the financial aspect of my status,” he recalls. “I was going through my career and I would have people telling me how to manage my money, talking to me about what it was like to play in the NBA. ‘You worry about playing, it's going to take all of your time. Let us worry about the money.’”
That notion never sat right with him. He believed that he, as the actual breadwinner, should make final decisions on his money and realized early on that he needed to be informed.
“No one is going to care about your money as much as you do. You have to really be proactive and you can't put it off on someone else,” he cautions. “You have to really take charge and take ownership of it because you never know with some of these people that you get around.
“I tried to tell people that the best thing that they could do is be their own financial steward. Have a system of checks and balances, and really know where every dollar is going.”
Over the course of his pro career, Troy saw plenty of his NBA peers blow through millions or fall victim to financial fraud, though he declined to cite them by name. Though players have gotten better about managing their money over the years, with the league and the National Basketball Players Association providing more resources and support, there is still no shortage of young athletes whose riches disappear.
Lonzo Ball’s incident with a family confidant who stole from him is one such recent example. Troy is careful to comment on Lonzo’s situation specifically, but does think it’s important that the Los Angeles Lakers guard caught it early in his career. Troy has seen many blow through millions or not pay attention to the millions being exhausted unceremoniously on their behalf.
“It's kind of pervasive throughout professional sports. It's a combination of young people that are inexperienced financially,” he says. “They don't have any kind of history managing money, and then they're presented with a large amount of money that they have to manage and make last for pretty much their entire lives. It's a recipe for some tough times. I definitely saw it with my teammates.”
With Sweven, Troy’s aim is to help his clients—who range from athletes and retirees to divorcees and anybody who might find themselves with sudden wealth—avoid the same mistakes to which he’s seen so many fall prey. Between his dozen years in the NBA and his Series 65 license (known as the Uniform Investment Adviser Law Examination), Troy boasts both equity with athletes and the certification to serve credibly in a wealth management capacity.
But as was the case during his NBA career, it’s his willingness to do the dirty work—from building Sweven’s website and developing the company’s concept to giving each of his clients individual attention—that sets him apart.
“It’s all me, soup to nuts,” he says. “I'm the one that's going to set up the meetings, and we're going to have the discovery calls and everything like that.”
Troy’s independence allows him to evaluate opportunities that make the most sense for both himself and his prospective clients. His services are a lifeline in shark-infested waters, but he’s got to be careful that he doesn’t get bitten himself. While he can’t serve everybody who calls, he believes in aiding those who want to help themselves.
“I think it's really about a fit with any kind of prospective clients. If someone says, ‘I want you to take care of things for me,’ that's not really the kind of relationship that I'm looking for,” he says. “I think it's important for a person to educate themselves as to why certain things are going on within a portfolio. How it's sustainable, how this is going to be a source of income—not only for them in the near future, but for the rest of their lives.”
To that end, Troy has set up Sweven in such a way that reflects his desire to educate. The firm donates every penny from its $275-per-hour consulting fee back into two select non-profit organizations: The Giving Project and the Philly Financial Cooperative at Olney Charter High School in Philadelphia. Both organizations promote financial literacy and consumer awareness, especially among the youth.
Despite his own resources and intentions, Troy found it difficult to track down entities he believed could further his crusade.
“I called a bunch of different non-profits and these two set themselves apart with their passion, and the way they went about trying to help individual kids,” he says. “I knew they were exactly the type of people I was looking for because they encompass leadership and contribution.”
Through Sweven, Troy has filtered knowledge into the community to create the next generation of fiscally responsible adults. And thanks to how responsibly he’s managed his own portfolio over the years, he has the flexibility to build this bridge of goodwill without the pressure of revenue generation for himself.
“My goal is not to make money off this,” he says. “I'm able to invest the money that I made playing basketball, and this is a thing where I'm trying to help people.
“The end goal would be to help my clients get to a place of financial independence. Have them figure out a way where they can have the freedom to make decisions, and do things to help people out in the future.”
With all that Troy has witnessed, coupled with his altruistic approach, it’s natural for his celebrity as a wealth advisor to gain traction. But he has no intention of expansion at this time. He remains focused on helping his confidential client list, with the hope that they may duplicate his efforts as a change agent in the community.
“If you can get to a point where you're financially independent, you can go out, make a difference and really help shape society for the better,” he says.
As much as he wants to see his clients achieve those kinds of outcomes, for Troy, it comes down to making sure that more people start their journeys through the financial world the right way. That’s why he put a simple but powerful mantra on Sweven’s website: One day or Day one.
“There are so many things that it’s applicable to,” he explains. “You can think about doing something one day down the road, you keep putting it off and it's always later than you think. So you can make a decision and you can say this is going to be day one. I'm going to take control of my financial future and I'm going to really figure out what I need to do.
“It's kind of a reminder—not just on the financial aspect—but on so many other levels as well.”
Warren Shaw is a veteran NBA writer based in Miami. Follow him on Twitter.