Susan Brassel, of Smith Barney on Biddle Road in Medford, is the first winner in this new Readers' Choice category.

A Lake Oswego native, the 45-year-old moved to the Rogue Valley in 1993. Five years ago, she went to work for Smith Barney.

A Seattle University alumnus, Brassel says her favorite part of being a "numbers gal" has very little to do with numbers or finances.

"I love the people and I love the fact I can have long-term relationships with people and know so much about their family and help build wealth and achieve their goals and dreams for their children and retirement," said Brassel, noting some of her clients have been seeking her advice for 10 to 15 years.

"I still have my very first client I ever had in this business," she said. "I've always been a people person — math is just part of the job."

Other favorites: Rick Hutchins of Smith Barney; Larry Cogdell of AIG