Northwestern Mutual

James Brown III

See how James found a challenging, fulfilling career that also allows him to be there for his loved ones in times of need.


Prior to joining Northwestern Mutual in May of 2012, James Brown III was an ambitious manager at one of the Big Four accounting firms. Despite his success, James was not truly happy with his work and desired a career in which he would enjoy more personal fulfillment. When he was recruited by Northwestern Mutual, James recognized an opportunity to find the income, flexibility and gratification he was looking for.

In His Own Words

Making a Difference

I like helping people, and this career has given me the opportunity to do so. I just love what I do. I love meeting new people, as my energy comes from personal interactions. I consider all of my clients to be my friends – in fact, it’s not uncommon that my wife and I go out to dinner or other events with my clients. Forming these relationships comes very naturally to me.

Career Rewards/Challenges

One of the things that I truly value about this career is that I was able to spend time with my father during the last three years of his life before he passed away in January 2015. My father and I were extremely close. His last few years were rough, and the flexibility that I’ve been able to obtain in this career gave me the opportunity to be there for him in a capacity that I don’t think any other career would have allowed me. I can’t put a price tag on that.

This career has flexibility like no other, but it also has demands like no other. I’m running my own business, and that requires a lot of hard work, organization and dedication. Going from being an employee to being a business owner takes time – and some growing pains – in order to get adjusted.

Career Advice

In my prior position, I was interviewing my clients to learn more about them and their work. Having that client-facing confidence has helped me succeed as a financial advisor. It was also a very time-sensitive environment. Having a sense of urgency, responding to things in a timely manner and not getting behind on deadlines are attributes I learned that have also helped me in this career.

When I first became a financial advisor, I had formal and informal support that was valuable and appreciated. If I ever needed to talk to someone more experienced, all were welcoming and more than willing to help. I had a mentor whom I met with once a week for the first six months that I was in this career. Leadership has a commitment to my development and an open-door policy from the top to the bottom.

My advice would be to make sure you continue to take advantage of the larger network of resources offered by Northwestern Mutual. Look outside your office – there are many experienced individuals all around the country with Northwestern Mutual who are doing great things. It’s important to take advantage of that in order to challenge ourselves to be better. For instance, right now, I am in two different national study groups, one of which I started. These groups help me to continue my professional development and learn more about the industry so that I can be as helpful as possible to my clients.

Successful Northwestern Mutual financial professionals are knowledgeable about the industry and are always seeking additional education so that they can fully serve our clients. Take advantage of the vast resources within our own network – you, and your clients, will be glad you did!

Learn More About James Brown III

To learn more about James Brown III, visit his website.