June 23, 2021

MAI Capital Management’s game plan for growth features launch of sports and entertainment division

MAI is closing in on $9 billion in total assets under management. That’s almost 10 times the tally it had when Buoncore acquired McCormack Advisors International in 2007.

The company has 160 employees, a total that has increased by more than 60 since 2018, in six states. At least 120 of those employees are located in Cleveland, where MAI now occupies three floors of the IMG building at 1360 East 9th St.

As MAI has grown, it has added offices that are closer to its high-profile clients. But “the operations, the financials, the headquarters, will always be Cleveland,” Buoncore said.

A “good portion” of MAI’s business is from athletes, who span all of the major professional leagues in the U.S. (The firm, because of U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission regulations, can’t disclose its clients.)

As MAI was expanding, a Reston, Va., firm run by Trax caught its attention. MTX, Buoncore said, was “like a mini-MAI,” with about $500 million in assets under management and a similar approach and makeup.

Trax, a two-year starter in basketball who played on two NCAA tournament teams at Old Dominion University, is a former vice president of SFX Sports Group. Trax worked for the firm when it was owned by David Falk, Michael Jordan’s agent, and had quite a few NBA clients.

Trax said he wasn’t looking to sell MTX, which he founded in 2007 (the same year Buoncore acquired MAI), but “the people” and similar philosophies drew him to the deal.

“How you approach the market and how you service the client is extremely important,” Trax said.

The new sports division will have about 25 employees. Fifteen of them will spend “the majority of their time working solely with professional athletes,” said Trax, who will continue to work in Reston.

The group will be backed by MAI’s vast resources, which include tax, investment, planning, cash management and other services.

Trax said they’ll focus on six verticals: family office and investment advisory services, business consulting, career transitioning, philanthropic initiatives and financial literacy. MAI has partnered with a university that will provide guidance to athletes as they move on from their playing days.

Trax, a former DeMatha Catholic High School teammate of former Cavs player and general manager Danny Ferry, said MLB, NHL and coaching clients made up the bulk of his business at MTX. Palguta, who was heading up MAI’s sports division, has extensive NFL ties — some that have lasted almost four decades.

“Really complementary businesses,” Trax said.

The pair is being tasked with further expanding MAI’s reach in sports and entertainment. It’s a market that Trax said is “grossly underserved” because “there are only a handful of folks who really get it and really understand the mind of an athlete and know how to service them accordingly.”

It’s something MAI should know all too well, considering the company got its start when McCormack started handling the business affairs of legendary golfer Arnold Palmer.

“It’s why our motto is it’s a game plan for life, because it starts when they get the contract, getting them established, teaching them everything there is about spending money, saving money and paying taxes,” Buoncore said.

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