Valerie Leonard

Valerie Leonardage 33

Wealth adviser, Grinkmeyer Leonard Financial

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Valerie Leonard went to college intending to become a nurse, but quickly learned she was less interested in medical studies than in helping people.

“The rest is history,” said Ms. Leonard, who switched her major to finance and began working for Ameriprise Financial even before she graduated.

These days, the co-founder of Grinkmeyer Leonard Financial couldn’t be happier, or busier.

With an advisory business that serves individuals and acts as co-fiduciary in the retirement plan market, Ms. Leonard said the biggest stumbling block for plan participants is fear of the unknown.

“People feel overwhelmed by whatever number they think they need to reach in order to retire,” she said.

Ms. Leonard believes she is most valuable as an adviser when looking at all aspects of a financial life, which is why her firm is expanding to help companies evaluate health care plans in the wake of the Affordable Care Act.

“I honestly look at this business as my daily mission work,” she said.

Her industry involvement is remarkable, particularly since she and her husband have three kids under the age of 4. Ms. Leonard serves on the Retirement Advisory Council at Commonwealth Financial Network and the Retirement Advisory Board at Nationwide Financial, and is a member of the Advisory Council at Fidelity Investments.

— Jeff Benjamin

Fast Facts

  • Loves to fish and hunt with her husband
  • Three guests she’d invite to a dinner party: Jesus Christ, Princess Diana and Jackie Kennedy
  • Wanted to be a nurse growing up
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