Valerie Brown spoke with Registered Rep. about her new role as CEO of ING Advisors Network.
Registered Rep.: What's your first priority as newly appointed CEO of ING Advisors Network?
Valerie Brown: My first priority is listening. I have been with the Advisor Network for five years, from 2002 to 2007, but have been in the annuity space for the last couple of years. I will be listening to understand the challenges our reps are facing and help them serve their clients the best they can so we can set our priorities appropriately.
Registered Rep.: The three b/ds owned by ING have been rumored to be up for sale as recent as April. Is this still a possibility? Are the b/ds a core business for ING?
VB: ING completed a broad global initiative in April, where they announced a desire to focus on a smaller set of core businesses globally. Although there will be a couple of closely aligned b/ds that will stay as a part of ING, the distribution was qualified as non-core, and so we have embarked upon an effort to really understand how we can best continue to serve those b/ds going forward. We want to state for you emphatically our broker/dealers have been very successful, last year, this year and the prior year, so any of the rumors or headlines that would suggest otherwise are incorrect.
Registered Rep.: How have these rumors affected recruiting/retention?
VB: Our recruiting results are right in line with what we expected.
Registered Rep.: ING Advisors Network is currently going through a comprehensive strategic review. What will this involve?
VB: For example, we just rolled out a new practice management program for reps producing more than $500,000 a year. And we we will continue to invest in our technology platform with straight through business processing. We have the capability, so educating and getting our reps to use it is high on our priority list.
Registered Rep.: Is ING hearing from more wirehouse advisors than usual?
VB: There is no question we're experiencing considerably more interest from wirehouse advisors — particularly at Financial Network and Multi Financial. Like most other independent b/ds we offer access to transitioning financing on a case by case basis and it's normally structured through a five year forgivable loan. Last year we were very successful in on-boarding about $100 million in annualized production.