Rebecca Lobo, the 28-year-old center for the WNBA's New York Liberty women's basketball team, is not someone who's used to losing, having won 102 consecutive games at one point in her college and Olympic career. And that experience extends to her investments, where she's been carefully putting her money in a diversified equity portfolio since her senior year at the University of Connecticut in 1995.
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Currently, she hands over the bulk of her estimated six-figure yearly income, which includes endorsements, to her financial planner, Carol Colton of Ronald Blue & Co. in Atlanta. Although Lobo's investments are down about 12% for the year through October (vs. a 26% decline in the
Nasdaq), Lobo says she's confident that her portfolio of diversified mutual funds will serve her well long term.
According to Colton, the strongest portion of Lobo's holdings recently has been real estate, which makes up about 10% of her overall portfolio. Those assets, primarily real estate investment trusts (REITs), are up slightly for the year, while her investments in U.S. and international equities are down 17.5% and 24.1%, respectively, for the year, according to Colton.
Lobo, college player of the year in 1995 when she led the UConn to a 35-0 record and the NCAA championship, here explains her interest in investing for the future, particularly given a knee ligament injury she suffered in 1999 that sidelined her for the season. She is also involved in a number of charities of personal significance to her, including an academic scholarship she has set up at her alma mater. Following her mother's successful battle with breast cancer, Lobo has been engaged in the fight against breast cancer and has donated significant money to breast cancer research.
TSC: What are you doing with your investments right now? Have you been cowed by the markets, as many other investors have been over the past 19 months?
Lobo: I turn over my financial investments to Ron Blue & Co., formerly known as Atlantic Capital Management; I pretty much hand over my investments to my financial planner, Carol Colton. To be honest with you, the only thing I look at on my quarterly investment reports is how much I've made or, recently, how much I've lost. I don't look at specific funds, stocks or anything like that.
TSC: Are you happy with what is going on right now? How are your investments doing? And what advice would you give to other investors, most of whom have been hammered all year?
Nobody in September has done well, but I'm still definitely up over the long term. My advice would be to just diversify, invest in the U.S. and believe in the long term. All of my income goes into this account, with the maximum going to retirement, and they keep a certain amount for me and my living expenses.
Investors need to be patient and understand that the economy
TSC: You give a lot of your time to charities, recently appearing on behalf of UNICEF on Oct. 31 for the opening bell of the American Stock Exchange. What are some other charities you're involved in?
My mother, Ruth Ann, has overcome breast cancer, and she and I both have done a lot in terms of fund raising and awareness for breast cancer. I was at a St. Louis event
in October speaking to an all-women's conference on the topic.
Just last month, my mother and I started a scholarship at the University of Connecticut, an endowed scholarship for which we have pledged $25,000. And I am hoping to raise $100,000 for people looking to go into the health care profession, obviously, with a tie-in to breast cancer. And I am very excited about that: the Ruth Ann & Rebecca Lobo Scholarship of Allied Health.
TSC: I understand that you're a spokesperson and a backer for a privately owned Internet company called Body1.com. What's the company do, and is it planning to go public eventually?
Yes, they are planning to go public. Body1.com is an informational Web site about health and body parts. It really helped me get information about knee surgery, following my injury, and ongoing recovery.
TSC: How is the fact that you are now 28 years old impacting your approach to your career, and, more importantly, your approach to investing?
To be honest, even though I know my career in terms of basketball, if I am lucky, is only going to be into my mid-30s, I still think that I'll continue to make a good living -- whether it's broadcasting, or whatever I choose to do after
basketball. I might get married or want to have children, but, ideally, I'd like to play as long as I can. If I could play until I was 36 or 37, that would be ideal for me.
In terms of my investments, it was in college in my senior year when I started making money with endorsements and other things. I met with a financial adviser right away, and we decided that I would go into a very aggressive investment strategy, knowing that by the time it's time for me to retire, I should be OK. I'm
just 28 years old now ... so I'm still confident in the markets.
TSC: How did you become one of the original members of the WNBA, and what would you have done if that had not come through?
Pretty much just great timing. I was very fortunate. I graduated in 1995 and then played on the Olympic team in 1996, and the WNBA was going to be starting in 1997. And I was tremendously interested and just fortunate because of the timing that I was able to be one of the original members.
If we hadn't had a professional team, I probably would have played over in Europe to make some money over there. One of the top leagues is in Italy. There are also leagues in France and in Spain. There's even a league now in Korea and in Israel. I studied three years of Spanish in high school, and my college major was political science because I thought I might want to go into law.