Recognized as one of BC's Top Employers (2022):
Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Feb 7, 2022)
Here are some of the reasons why Nicola Wealth Management Ltd. was selected as one of BC's Top Employers (2022):
- Nicola Wealth Management recently developed a formal health and well-being action plan that includes one-on-one well-being coaching, and maintains an employee yoga and meditation program (held virtually throughout the pandemic)
- Nicola Wealth Management manages an internal Nicola Gives Back Charitable Committee to foster a culture of giving and also matches employee donations, to a maximum of $1,000 per year -- the company supports a variety of local, national and international community organizations each year and encourages employees to get involved with a paid day off to volunteer
Mentoring yields dividends at Nicola Wealth
Cam Smith caught the investment bug as a 12-year-old growing up in Vermilion, Alta., when he acquired his first mutual fund, albeit with a little help from his parents. “I had a graph on the fridge to track the value of it,” says Smith, who, all these years later, is director of advisory services with Vancouver-based Nicola Wealth Management Ltd. “I’ve always had a passion for the markets.”
Nicola Wealth provides financial planning and asset management, primarily to individual investors, through its head office in Vancouver and branch offices in Richmond and Kelowna as well as three in the Greater Toronto Area.
Smith joined Nicola Wealth in August 2020 as a seasoned, mid-career professional who hosted two radio morning shows in Edmonton before entering the financial services business in 2006 as an entry-level assistant.
“It’s very attractive to work for an independent firm like Nicola Wealth that’s growing quickly,” says Smith, who works closely with the company’s team of more than 40 advisors. “There’s a feeling of community and a spirit of collaboration here that is unique.”
Nicola Wealth’s employee head count has grown 56 per cent since January 2020, says Heather Claridge, senior vice-president, people and culture. The firm has formed new functional groups, such as its private capital and business transformation teams, as well as significantly expanding existing functions. All the new hires have had to join virtually but that has happened seamlessly due to the company’s two-step onboarding process.
Every newcomer goes through a corporate orientation that introduces them to the organizational structure as well as the people, culture and practices. From there, they receive functional specific onboarding with their manager, which includes check-ins after 30, 60 and 90 days.
“People get the tools and information they need to get up to speed as quickly and efficiently as possible,” says Claridge. In addition to external hiring, Nicola Wealth is committed to career growth for their people and offers comprehensive talent development initiatives.
Historically, the company has hired people with business degrees or at least three years’ experience in the financial services industry for many of the company’s roles. In 2021, Nicola Wealth started a one-year financial planning associates’ internship for new graduates with the goal of having them join afterwards as full employees.
Associates work closely with financial advisors, most of whom are highly accredited with both Financial Planning and Investment Management designations.
Associates complete research, prepare for client meetings and often attend meetings themselves. Most associates work toward acquiring the accreditations that allow them to become advisors. Nicola provides tuition support as well as allowing study days and matching them with mentors and internal study groups.
Nicola has advisors of varying levels of tenure and expertise. Tenured advisors tend to partner with clients that have extremely complex needs in areas such as investment management, taxation, retirement, insurance, and estate planning. The company matches advisors with complementary experience and capabilities to ensure that clients are well served.
“The two-advisor model fosters mentorship and the cascading of knowledge,” says Smith. “That speaks to our philosophy of sharing thought leadership.”
Claridge points to another advantage. “As our client base grows, this model ensures continuity of client experience,” she says. “It allows us to grow without sacrificing personalized service.”
The company is planning to bring employees back to its offices in a hybrid model in the first quarter of 2022. “We’ve heard loud and clear from our folks that they really value the flexibility and want a hybrid solution,” says Claridge.
Recognized as one of Canada's Top Small & Medium Employers (2022):
Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Apr 4, 2022)
Here are some of the reasons why Nicola Wealth Management Ltd. was selected as one of Canada's Top Small & Medium Employers (2022):
- Along with a minimum of three weeks of paid time off, Nicola Wealth Management provides up to 10 paid personal days each year, which can be used for illness or personal reasons -- unused vacation days are carried forward to the next year as half days
- Nicola Wealth Management also lets employees share in the firm's successes through profit-sharing and year-end bonus programs -- and encourages employees to become recruiters for the company through a generous new employee referral bonus program
Nicola Wealth supports employees at every level
When Danielle Skipp got the opportunity to join the Ontario leadership team of Vancouver-based Nicola Wealth Management Ltd., she didn’t hesitate before accepting. After all, her brother David Sung and her late father Brian Sung had merged their business with John Nicola back in 2003 and David has been key member of the senior team ever since.
And when Jada Fleur-de-Lys was offered a one-year contract position, she also jumped at the opportunity, even though it meant leaving a secure position with a major financial institution. “It was an opportunity to start fresh with a company where I could grow and develop,” says Fleur-de-Lys, who is now manager of wealth planning associates. “It was a perfect fit for me.”
Nicola provides a specialized service that integrates financial planning and asset management, primarily to individual investors, through its head office in Vancouver and branch offices in Richmond and Kelowna, B.C., as well as three in Toronto. And it is rapidly expanding its footprint in Ontario.
“People want to work for us,” says Skipp, managing director for Ontario. “When they get here, they’re respected and valued. They’re confident they’ve made an excellent decision.”
Nicola makes every effort to get new hires off to a good start through a well-structured onboarding program. “Engagement with new employees starts on Day 1,” says Fleur-de-Lys. “We give them a 90-day tailored plan. It allows them to understand what’s expected of them and what they can expect from us.”
The firm’s people and culture group explains the various programs the company offers as well as its culture. Meantime, the marketing team provides an overview of the history of the firm as well as its values.
A core component of the company’s culture is supporting the growth and development of employees at all levels through mentoring, leadership training and tuition subsidies for those seeking professional accreditations.
“We make sure everybody has a team manager who owns a career development plan,” says Skipp. “We use a digital tool to encourage accountability both for the manager and the employee to accomplish the things they say they’re going to do.”
Fleur-de-Lys says she initially aspired to advance from her position as a wealth planning associate to a wealth advisor role in which she would have direct responsibility for the client relationship.
“I was very fortunate to have a great mentor who recognized something in me that I didn’t see,” says Fleur-de-Lys, which was instrumental in her progression to manager of wealth planning associates. “We had many conversations around career development. She consistently provided me with opportunities to grow and to develop my leadership skills.”
Skipp adds that “the learning never stops” at Nicola. “We invest in our aspiring leaders in their late 30s and early 40s,” she says. “We put them through leadership courses and give them access to internal and external mentors.”
As well, Nicola has a robust internship program. Recent university graduates, or college graduates with financial planning diplomas, are offered one-year, full-time paid positions. “We’re far better off hiring out of university or college and training them in our way of delivering sophisticated financial planning,” says Skipp.
Nicola also believes in “sharing the pie,” as Skipp puts it, meaning that all employees either participate in profit sharing or own equity in the company. “That’s a big deal,” she says. “It creates an alignment of interests.”