ODU Alum Steve Trax Living His Hoop Dreams as Owner of Wealth Management Firm Catering to Pro Athletes
Steve Trax came to Old Dominion University in 1985 to play Division I basketball. But he also arrived with a career game plan.
While the four-year Monarch enjoyed a solid career on the basketball court - a two-year starter, going to two NCAA tournaments and a National Invitational Tournament, and spending a year as a graduate assistant under coach Oliver Purnell - Trax wanted to prepare for his post-playing career in business. And he figured his basketball passion positioned him uniquely to do so.
"My high school coach (storied DeMatha Catholic High's Morgan Wooten) often told us, 'Use the game, don't let the game use you,'" Trax said. "I wanted to work in the financial services industry, so I chose accounting as my major, one I thought would best prepare me for a career in business."
Trax also wanted to fuse his passion for numbers with his passion for sports.
Twenty-three years later, he is enjoying a successful career as the founder and principal of MTX Wealth Management LLC, a wealth management firm that caters to the unique needs of professional athletes. Through MTX, Trax provides a full range of financial services, from developing tax and investment strategies, to managing the day-to-day financial affairs of his clientele of athletes, many of whom have become wealthy overnight at a very young age.
"There's no instruction manual out there for professional athletes who suddenly come into a lot of money," he said. "It brings with it significant challenges and responsibility."
Despite a shortage of good advice, Trax resents the popular portrayal in the media that all pro athletes routinely spend well beyond their means. "On a regular basis, I will receive a call from the media asking me to comment on the misfortune of a particular athlete, Warren Sapp (a former NFL player who declared bankruptcy) as an example. It frustrates me because I know that my clients and many other professional athletes are financially responsible, and unfortunately you don't hear much about those good stories. I'm honestly tired of reading the bad stories."
Trax played basketball for ODU at a time when the program was on an upswing. In his first two seasons with the Monarchs, the 6-foot-4-inch shooting guard played in the NCAA tournament, first under Paul Webb, then Tom Young. During that period, ODU had players like Kenny Gattison and Mark West, both of whom were likely going to make money playing professional basketball. That's when the idea for his business was hatched.
"I had to be realistic about playing professionally," Trax said. "I'm very pleased with my career at Old Dominion, but I'm just as proud of what I did off the court to prepare myself for my career after sports." He graduated with degrees in accounting and personal financial management in 1989.
Trax said the coaches for whom he played - Webb and Young - were terrific at encouraging him to maximize his potential in all areas, which helped him land his first job in public accounting, then transition into the wealth management business 14 years ago. Trax founded MTX Wealth Management in 2007. The D.C.-area firm has grown to include a stable of professional athlete clients that includes Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay, New Jersey Devils forward Ilya Kovalchuk, and Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz.
Trax helps to direct the company's overall investment policies and strategies. In addition, he continues to actively manage a diverse group of clients within five major sports. Trax is particularly excited about helping his clients with their philanthropic objectives, including successfully establishing donor-advised funds and charitable private foundations. He currently serves on the boards of three athlete-sponsored foundations. To say the least, it's a busy and demanding schedule.
But even in his limited spare time, Trax has found various outlets for his love of basketball. He coaches the teams of his two young sons, plays a competitive weekly pickup game and still follows the on-court action of his beloved Monarchs. "I was just talking to a few of my former teammates the other day," he said. "I know coach (Blaine) Taylor and the other coaches, and while I don't get to see ODU play as much as I'd like, I'm proud of their continued success."
This article was posted on: May 21, 2012
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