From the unlikely path of aspiring singer to financial advisor, Lori Van Dusen of LVW Advisors has built a wealth management empire out of a humble space off Monroe Avenue in Pittsford.
Since founding LVW in 2011, Van Dusen has made waves in the financial industry as one of the nation’s most highly regarded wealth managers. Just this year, Van Dusen appeared as number 66 on Forbes’ list of the nation’s top wealth advisors, number three on the list of best in-state advisors and among the top women advisors. LVW has also consistently landed on Barron’s list of top wealth advisors.
For Van Dusen it was an unlikely journey that ultimately landed at LVW.
“Really, my path to Wall Street was not a straight one at all, it really looks crazy,” Van Dusen said. “When I was a child I was a musician, I went to the Eastman School of Music as a performance major, I ended up at Ithaca College and did not pursue music, then I went on to Harvard and got my master’s in education.”
In 1987, Van Dusen hopped on board at Lehman Brothers, at a time she recalls “everyone wanted to be a stockbroker.” Her class of incoming brokers alone, she estimated, numbered in the 200s.
“It was a popular thing,” Van Dusen said. “And at Lehman Brothers, it was the cream of the crop, you had to pass all the tests, whatever aptitude tests there were.”
Van Dusen worked her way up the ranks to become managing director of CitiGroup’s Smith Barney in 2004, a role she stayed in for four years. In August 2008, with $6 billion in assets under her management, Van Dusen opted to go independent.
“I took my practice, which was a pretty big practice at the time, out of Smith Barney and went independent,” Van Dusen said. “I felt that the investment and advisory business was going to an independent model and Wall Street firms were going to be disrupted.”
Today, Van Dusen runs a firm focused on high-net-worth clients, beginning right around the $10 million asset range.
From 1999 until 2008, Van Dusen served on the board of Monroe Community College, alongside Jeremy Wolk, a partner at the Nixon Peabody law firm. A longtime friend, Wolk sees Van Dusen as tenacious, the epitome of a hard worker, from rising at “the witching hour” to start her day to her innate ability to work collaboratively with others.
“She’s done more before most of us have had breakfast than the rest of us will do all day…she has that blue collar work ethic with white collar intelligence,” Wolk said. “I think that’s really part of what made for her success.”
For Van Dusen, she credits her roots in Rochester as the foundation of that success.
“I come from a really great family, but not a lot of money or contacts,” Van Dusen said. “So I started with, really, pretty much nothing besides a desk and a phone.”
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