Innovator

Valerie Brown

Valerie Brown

Executive chairwoman, Advisor Group

Embracing change and diversity has been a hallmark of Valerie Brown’s career. With a background in engineering, consumer products and financial services, she knows what it’s like to reinvent oneself — and one’s organization.

Most recently, Ms. Brown, executive chairwoman at Advisor Group, led her firm to a new way of thinking in response to the highly publicized Department of Labor fiduciary rule.

“We didn’t react, we changed the way we practiced,” she said. “The focus [of the potential rule] was on compliance, but we focused on how could we take advantage of this new opportunity and move forward with confidence, not fear.”

This proactive approach resulted in a new pricing structure and new offerings, such as simplified fees and fee-based products with lower minimums. Comprehensive work was required throughout the entire ecosystem, including clearing, product managers and fee-based technology, Ms. Brown said.

She also has focused throughout her career on bringing more women into senior roles. Indeed, the Advisor Group executive leadership team is 50% female.

“Diversity, whether in background, gender or style, helps management think differently — more innovatively versus incrementally,” Ms. Brown said.

The diverse perspective she herself brought to the table at a previous job many years ago also proved valuable. She applied her insights about consumer products to introduce a branding campaign for ING Group — a novel move at the time.

A big influence on Ms. Brown’s life has been family, and mountains, as she lives in Jackson Hole, Wyo., close to her native Idaho. Her career migration to financial services stemmed from her father, who had his own book of business.

“He gave me a passion for the industry,” she said.

– Deborah Nason

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