Judith Brown was an early pioneer in the then brave new world of fee-based financial advice when she founded her practice in 1979. Her son, Richard S. Brown, took charge 18 years later, and JNBA Financial Advisors in Minneapolis and Duluth, Minn., continues to flourish.

Beating the usual odds against family-owned financial planning firms, JNBA has grown from $90 million in client assets under management in 1997 to more than $375 million today, all despite the worst decade for financial markets since the Great Depression. In 2007 through 2009, while investors were panicking, the firm nearly doubled its new assets.

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