Success Spotlight: Katie Brown
Welcome to our ‘Success Spotlight’ series! We spotlight the incredible work of financial advisors in our community, diving into their personal journeys, professional insights, and passions that fuel them inside and outside their firms. Our aim is to give you a behind-the-scenes look at the people who navigate the complex landscape of wealth management every day. Get ready to meet the real faces behind financial advice and discover what sets them apart.
Introducing Katie Brown, Founder & Principal at Morton Brown Family Wealth.
- Can you tell us about your background and what led you to become a financial advisor?
- I grew up as the third of four children in a modest home in Michigan. Money was not often discussed at home, but I knew it was tight. My parents owned a small business and where I worked growing up. I eventually took on more and more responsibilities including paying and documenting bills, reconciling receipts, and making deposits. I enjoyed the operation, organization, and puzzling of numbers. Fast forward to college and inspired by an awesome economics professor, I decided to declare Economics and Finance as my major. I discovered my love for financial planning and advising during an internship in my senior year and I never looked back. I found my professional passion.
- What motivates you in your work and personal life?
- I am motivated by helping others feel confident with how their money can help support what matters most to them. To witness those moments of clarity where I can literally see levity in their demeanor from the weight being lifted from their shoulders. I love to see clients come to the realization that they are not only capable but also empowered to pursue the life they want.
- Who have been your biggest influences or mentors?
- Not unlike many others, my parents have influenced my life significantly. I credit some of my greatest academic strengths as coming from my dad, including my love of numbers and analytical approach to problem solving. My mom, after undergoing major brain surgery when I was in 4th grade, has led by example with incredible strength, perseverance, and compassion for others. She continues to inspire me every day.
Approach to Advice
- What do you consider your greatest achievement in your career so far?
- The greatest achievement in my career thus far is the launching of Morton Brown Family Wealth with my partner Dennis Morton. I am so proud of the business we are building, the amazing staff we are attracting and retaining, and the incredible clients with which we work. We had a vision for how a wealth management firm could be designed to best serve families. Continual improvement is a part of our culture. While we will always be a work in progress, I still feel excitement every day walking into the office. What we have built is even better than I imagined.
- Can you share a story where your advice significantly impacted a client’s financial situation?
- I have the privilege of helping couples and families work through financial decisions on a daily basis. Sometimes with significant impact to their lives and sometimes not. I attempt to view the impact wholistically, as often the greatest impact is not rooted in the numbers, but rather in the confidence and comfort it brings to a family. One of my favorite yet simple stories is with a client we’ll call Mary. Mary is single and retired just a few years ago. She moved into her dream retirement home just before we began working together. She had a fairly large mortgage and a very large IRA representing the majority of her wealth. Carrying the mortgage gave her anxiety but paying it off with the IRA money was difficult to justify due to the tax implications. We came up with a plan to accelerate payments to pay down her mortgage over the span of a just a few years. Paying off the mortgage was even more freeing for Mary than she expected. She commented that she didn’t even realize how heavily the mortgage was weighing on her. She feels a level of personal protection knowing that she doesn’t owe anyone anything. Every time I see her, she thanks me again for helping her to gain clarity in her financial situation and find a way to pay off the mortgage without jeopardizing her financial future.
- How do you use Nitrogen within your firm?
- I explain to clients that we use Nitrogen in three ways. First, to better understand their risk tolerance and comfort with investing. Second, to better understand the level of risk present in their current investments and compare that to recommended investment strategies. Third, to take that risk knowledge and stress test their financial plan to illustrate the impact of different return scenarios playing out. This adds valuable depth to conversations with couples who may not be on the same page when it comes to investing comfort and risk tolerance.
- What advice would you give to someone just starting their journey in wealth management?
- For anyone just starting their journey in wealth management, I suggest you learn as much as you can broadly. Pursue the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ designation, determine where your passion lies, and then go deep. You don’t have to know “all the things.” But meet and collaborate with as many experts as you can so you can be a great resource and connector for others. Also remember, the numbers-driven answer is not always the right answer. There is always a human aspect to every decision and every strategy.
Outside of the Office
- What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?
- I played four years of Rugby in college.
- How do you balance your work demands with your personal life?
- I balance work/life demands by attempting to be disciplined with my schedule. One example is only taking one evening meeting or event per week. My goal is to be home for family dinners nearly every night. Beyond that, one of the greatest ways that we achieve work-life balance within our firm is by fostering a culture that builds support for one another to attain balance.
- Do you have any hobbies or interests outside of work that help you unwind?
- Outside of work, I enjoy almost any type of physical activity. Running has always been a de-stressor and grounding activity for me. It allows me to clear my mind and let it wonder freely.
- If you weren’t a financial advisor, what alternative career path might you have chosen?
- If I wasn’t a financial advisor, I would want to have some type of physically active career. Perhaps a trainer or assist as a youth tennis coach.