Unlike other careers, a life in sport means you will likely have to plan for two retirements. Ex-professional rugby player turned independent financial adviser, Adam Hughes, has explained how elite sports people can prepare for the future.

A career in sport is incredibly unique, but it can also be incredibly unpredictable.

Adam Hughes, formerly of Dragons, knows this all too well - having been forced to retire at the age of 28 following a series of concussions.

Now an independent financial adviser with Newport-based Chartered Financial Planners, Niche, he provides regulated financial advice to sports professionals, helping them plan their careers now and in the future.

Current sports professionals including many international rugby players who will be playing during this month’s Autumn internationals, have praised the service, stating they have been able to fully concentrate on their sport knowing that their current and future financial situation is being looked after. One in particular is current Dragons star and Welsh international Aaron Wainwright, who has been with Niche since the start of his professional career.

So how can professional sportspeople plan for their future? Adam has provided an insight into what is now known as the four-stage approach to regulated financial advice.

He said: “The first stage provides a simple introduction. For young professionals in the early stages of their career, it is important to understand the very basics of finance.

"Here, we cover items such as explaining the breakdown of payslips and tax bands. We then focus on the importance of budgeting, to ensure your money lasts as long as possible and provides a safety net during and after your career. We also produce a cashflow plan to help you visualise the different decisions you make early on, and the effect that these have on both your sporting career and later in life.

“The second stage focuses on your growth. By now you will have been earning for a few years and your salary is likely to start rising, meaning you now have a bit more disposable income. It is therefore important to consider appropriate protections, while also using that extra income to make your money work harder for you. Appropriate protection policies will help ensure you can continue to meet your expenditure should your sports career suddenly become disrupted, while putting some of your disposable income away for the medium-long term will help when you need it most.

“At stage three you will likely be reaching the pinnacle of your earnings.

"It is therefore important to consider how to make the best use of your disposable income, while considering your financial future. This can involve diversifying your regulated investments, as well as managing the amount of tax you pay, using regulated tax relief schemes. Your investment strategy should remain rather similar to the growth stage, but it is important to have one eye on the future to ensure a swift transition to your new, post-sporting life.

"The final stage is focused on helping you transition to civilian life and beyond. For many, the biggest concern when you embark on your post-sporting profession, is whether you can maintain the same lifestyle while protecting your loved ones. However, if the initial three stages have been conducted, this is where you start to reap the rewards. By being financially savvy and following the steps set out, the money you’ve put aside during your professional sports career will help maintain the lifestyle you have become accustomed to. An ongoing plan, now tailored to your new career, will also help.”

If you’d like to find out more about the services provided by Adam Hughes and Niche, visit nichesports.co.uk. As headline sponsors of this year’s South Wales Argus Sports Awards, the business is committed to helping sports professionals - no matter what stage they are at in their professional sports career.