Around 6 a.m. most people are just waking up to prepare for their workday and at 6 p.m. they are heading home or there already. At those hours, Dylan Kremer is arriving at his second job.
By day, Kremer is a director of Investment Strategy at Cresset, a Chicago-based RIA that manages almost $12 billion. He’s in the office (or working from home due to the Covid-19 pandemic) Monday through Friday, deliberating the firm’s macroeconomic views and building portfolios. During the early mornings, late evenings, and weekends, he trains NBA players and others at the Chicago Basketball Club, the company he co-founded in 2015.
Kremer’s family couldn’t afford private workouts when he was growing up in Cincinnati. So, he worked for local coaches and observed what others were doing and it’s paid off. After attending and playing basketball at Loyola University New Orleans, and a brief stint in the NBA Development League, he decided against trying to make it as a professional in Europe and instead pursue a career in finance. He didn’t like coaching but loved player development and started the Chicago Basketball Club to fill the void.
Balancing both jobs, especially during the NBA offseason, makes for an insanely busy schedule. The club, which includes Kremer and one other skills trainer, strength and conditioning coaches, and nutritionists, works with only a handful of professionals and some top college players hoping for a career in basketball. But it’s nothing for Kremer to spend 40 hours each week with the club’s clients, in addition to the 40 he’s spending at Cresset.
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“The difficulty is, I mean, as you're probably aware, it's what is the proper nutrition to keep your energy level constant throughout the day?” said Kremer, who’s diligent about eating well and maximizing his efficiency.
“Scheduling is extremely important, because I mean, I can't mess up by 15 minutes. There's no wiggle room. So I need to be, again, surgical with my schedule and nutrition. It's almost like I'm a player again, but I enjoy it. For me, the hours aren't even a question.”
When he needs to, Kremer said he forgoes time with the club to tend to his duties at Cresset. But he avoids that when possible. At stake are players’ performance which is critical to their livelihood. Their individual skill sets are, in a way, like investment portfolios that require constant attention as the world around them changes.
“I would argue being a world-class financier is very similar to being a world-class athlete, world-class violinist. Got to put the hours in. You have to be very intentional with your training and intentional with your approach. So a lot of parallels to both, and that's just how I approach life in general,” Kremer said.
“Our goal is to provide the best risk-adjusted return for our clients, and I would argue that's very similar for player development. You want to get them the best [risk-adjusted] return for the player development. You want to have load management, you want to prevent injury, but you also want to give them an optimized training experience.”
Chicago Basketball Club leverages data collected on players to determine what areas of their game they should spend time improving. Kremer then meets with them to explain what drills and exercises they are going to do and why. It’s an atypical process for a lot of players. “Some of these players are seeing PowerPoint presentations [and saying] like what the hell is this?”
Kremer’s approach is working and attracting more players, including some of the most recognizable in the NBA. Sacramento Kings forward Jabari Parker, Miami Heat guard Duncan Robinson, and players from the Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks, New Orleans Pelicans, and Phoenix Suns have worked out with the club.
“We have a really good core player base, and for me, I'm just really excited about this offseason, and particularly, even though it was short, because we had some really good time [in the gym] and ran off season workouts for Jabari Parker. We were going twice a day, pretty much every day this off season, even though it was short. [I’m] just really excited for him and his opportunity this season to be able to show what he's got,” Kremer said.
Parker, a Chicago native who attended Duke University and was the second pick in the 2014 NBA draft, has had a career plagued by injuries and hopes to return to a level of play he achieved in previous seasons. The 25-year-old recently exercised the final year of his contract with the Kings and could become a free agent next summer.
None of Chicago Basketball Club’s players have become clients of Cresset. Although, Kremer said the RIA would happily help them with any financial questions. Kremer has relationships with all of their agents, as well as brands like Nike, Under Armour, and others that sponsor events the club participates in.
Chicago Basketball Club also hosts its own charity events and invite-only open gyms, camps that roughly 2,000 high school players have attended.
“I could definitely see it merging in the future, and by no means am I working with these players to have them be a client. First and foremost, I'm focusing on their development and making sure they're comfortable, but education is a very important step...especially for pre-draft players, I could see Cresset potentially getting involved with some education with the pre-draft players and just being a resource to them prior to getting a huge contract.”
Professional athletes are a small niche that few wealth managers actually work with and understand. Kremer is confident Cresset is one of those, but if none of his club’s players become clients, there’s still much to gain.
“I am a better trainer due to my job across at Cresset and vice versa.”
Michael Thrasher (@Mike_Thrasher) is a reporter at RIA Intel based in New York City.