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Vernon Brown 1996
Vernon J. Brown ‘96, CPA, chairman and CEO of V. Brown & Company, Inc., began his career in the entertainment industry representing such innovative hip-hop groups as Public Enemy and the platinum selling R&B group Surface. He has established himself as one of the entertainment industry’s leading business managers by representing such artists as the late rapper Notorious BIG, Public Enemy, urban soul singer D’Angelo, Erykah Badu, and the Cash Money Records Empire. Brown launched V. Brown & Company, Inc., in 1992, a business/ personal financial management company located in New York City. Brown’s knowledge, experience, leadership and clients range far and wide in all areas of entertainment and sports. Vernon represents fashion models including May Andersen & Noemi Lenoir; sports stars such as Allan Houston, Charlie Ward, Ty Law, Vernon Davis & Joe Haden; as well as recording artists, film producers, and actors.
Sports and Entertainment Advisor Reaches for the Stars
Late-night dinners, plenty of pro-ball games, and recording sessions that stretch into the early hours of the morning might not be the lifestyle that every aspiring tax or trusts-and-estates attorney envisions, but it's a fast-paced dream that Vernon J. Brown, class of 1996, has turned into reality as chairman and chief executive officer of the financial management services company that bears his name.
As the business manager for show business clients like Grammy nominee Erykah Badu, Mr. Brown and his staff of eighteen handle everything from paying bills to collecting paychecks, setting up budgets, dealing with tax matters, and developing long-term investment programs. Whether a client is buying or selling a business, getting a divorce, negotiating performance contracts becoming embroiled in a lawsuit that could affect his or her cash flow, V. Brown & Company, which is based in Manhattan, can provide advice.
Although headliners like Derrick Morgan & Shaun Phillips make up much of the company's client roster, Mr. Brown can help "anyone who has a hectic life," he explained. "A business executive might be traveling for two or three weeks at a time," Mr. Brown observed. "The average executive doesn't have the time to go straight home and sit down to pay the American Express bill," he said.
"My job is to guide and navigate people through a lot of decisions," Mr. Brown explained of his clients, many of whom grew up in modest circumstances before abruptly becoming millionaires. "There is a temptation to enjoy the money," admitted Mr. Brown, who on one recent day counted on his to-do list a directive from a client to bid enough to get a classic car being auctioned at Christie's. Mr. Brown advises clients to enjoy their newfound wealth—but in moderation.
"In the sports and entertainment fields, careers can be very short," Mr. Brown noted. His task is to make sure his clients are able to maintain their lifestyle "even after the public is no longer buying their records," he said.
Mr. Brown, who began his career providing financial advice and accounting services for medical professionals, saw his music and entertainment business blossom when he happened to meet a radio program director who became a client and then referred others in the business to Mr. Brown. V. Brown & Company was formed in January 1992. A year later, Mr. Brown enrolled at Pace Law School.
"A business manager does not have to be a lawyer," Mr. Brown acknowledged. "But in my travels, ninety percent of the people I dealt with were lawyers," he said. Despite being a certified public accountant who had graduated from the City College of New York in 1984, having a J.D. could only help him further his career. Even if he doesn't work a typical lawyer's hours, that's okay.
"My clients do not have a lot of time," Mr. Brown said. Since those who have achieved great success typically are working hard to maintain it, Mr. Brown might end up meeting with a client after a performance or whenever the client can spare a moment. "I might be sitting in a studio at 2 a.m. going over financial statements," Mr. Brown acknowledged.