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Getting to Know: Sue Brown

Sue Brown was known to many advisers as the face of regulation at the FMA. She's now off on her own, operating Sue Brown Solutions.

Friday, August 4th 2017, 11:00AM 2 Comments

by Susan Edmunds

Who are you and what do you do?

I’m Sue Brown - Director of Sue Brown Solutions. I help clients develop pragmatic and commercial solutions to challenging regulatory, legal and governance issues in the financial markets, corporate and government sectors.

How did you get into the industry?

One of the law firm partners I worked for asked me to help proof-read a final salary pension scheme trust deed, and I was hooked! I knew there had to be a better way of recording and communicating concepts that are so fundamental to ordinary people’s wealth and well-being. More than 25 years later, I’ve broadened the scope of the products and services I advise on (well, you’d have to in New Zealand) but I’m still singing the same tune – if you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough…

If there is one thing you would like to change about the financial advice industry, what would it be?

I’m keen to see financial advisers continue building the profession. It’s been a great start, but there’s a lot of work still to do. At the same time, we need to find a way of ‘right-sizing’ the way the advice process interacts with the regulatory requirements, so everyone has access to the advice they need and we can fill the yawning advice gap.

What’s the best advice you have ever received?

My parents always told me to ‘do as you would be done by’. I’m not sure I had the faintest idea what they meant then, but I now know the values I learned as a child of showing respect for others no matter what their background, of looking for the positive and the possible (rather than the negative and the obstacles) in every situation, of expecting only the best from myself, and of not accepting limitations placed on me by others, have stood me in good stead, I think.

What could financial advisers learn from other industries?

Starting at the bedrock - accounting, engineering, architecture, law and medicine have taken hundreds of years to shape themselves into centrally-organised professions that benefit their members by putting their clients’ interests at the heart of what they do. That’s a great starting point for financial advisers as the profession develops. Looking to the future, there’s also much to learn from the innovation and agility of the fin-tech providers – the pace of change will only get faster and (like all professionals) financial advisers need to get on board or they’ll be left behind. 

What do you think the FMA has done well? What could it do better?

The FMA has done a great job of turning around the sinking regulatory ship that was the Securities Commission and becoming a proactive and commercial regulator, but then I would say that, wouldn’t I? The move to greater transparency and market engagement has been particularly powerful. But, after several years of unrelenting guidance (and a particularly intense first six months of this year) the industry could perhaps now use a bit of a break to give time to fully understand and assimilate the regulator’s expectations before the next round of change. I’d also really like to see the FMA refer more cases to the under-utilised Financial Advisers Disciplinary Tribunal so financial advisers can get some really practical and industry-focused best practice steers. 

What have been the benefits of regulation?

It’s given the public greater confidence to save and invest after the finance company failures.

Are you a KiwiSaver member?

Of course – it’s a no-brainer!

If so, what’s your investment strategy?

Balanced – yes, I know my risk appetite…

Outside of work what do you do?

I run (slowly), read (quickly), and enjoy time, food & drink, movies and shows with family and friends (often).

What would you say if one of your kids told you they wanted to be a financial adviser?

Go for it – what better career could you have than helping people achieve their goals and secure their futures! I’d be a bit surprised though, because one of my daughters is in marketing and the other owns a bakery.

What’s one thing people may be surprised to know about you?

I spent the first few years of my life in an English stately home. No, not as Lady Brown – but because my grandparents were the butler and the cook. I learned to lay a table for a dinner party very early in life!

If you weren’t in this job what would you be doing?

I’d own a small bookshop with a café attached. I’d need great staff members though, so I could sit and read books and drink coffee all day.

Tags: financial advisers fintech FMA Getting to Know investment KiwiSaver regulation Sue Brown

« Trust laws get shake-up, and advice carve-outTSB Trust to take over Fisher Funds »

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Comments from our readers

On 4 August 2017 at 1:41 pm AFA Muggins said:
Who is going to start here............?

All I can think of saying initially, is thank you Good Returns for presenting this Pandora's Box of opportunities.
On 5 August 2017 at 1:02 pm Stephen O'Connor said:
Congratulations Sue on your appointment to the Financial Advice New Zealand establishment board.

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