Nicola Wealth Management is a firm built on the idea of business owners helping other business owners. Our history of entrepreneurial spirit, innovation and growth is a large part of our success and our ability to understand the needs of high net worth individuals and their families.
In developing the business that would become Nicola Wealth Management, John Nicola’s frustration with financial solutions for high net worth individuals always stemmed from the same dreary realism: that the traditional approach was not getting the job done.
In 1994, after ten successful years as President of The Rogers Group, John Nicola decided to follow his entrepreneurial instincts and start his own firm — one that would focus solely on the needs of self-employed professionals, business owners and executives.
Joining John on his new venture were current management partners Jamie Duncan (COO) and Karen Ikeda (Sr. Financial Advisor). Starting with 7 staff and $80-million in assets under management, they used the same business acumen and experience that had allowed them to develop the estate planning and specialist business at the Rogers Group to begin building their own firm: The John Nicola Financial Group.
2003 was a banner year in the firm’s history. David Sung (President), along with his father and business partner Brian Sung (now retired), merged their firm with NWM, bringing with them valuable knowledge and expertise. The firm’s client base expanded significantly and the company gained a downtown location before eventually bringing everyone under one roof.
In the same year, NWM welcomed Rob Edel (CIO) and Wayman Crosby (Partner, CEO Nicola-Crosby / SPIRE), both of whose experience in the investment and real estate worlds (respectively) allowed the firm to offer a wider variety of unique, cash flowing investments. This would build the foundation for NWM’s growth in the money management field and provide clients with more sophisticated investments.
By 2005, NWM had grown substantially and officially opened the doors of its Kelowna location, with a local and dedicated team serving the needs of high net worth professionals and their families throughout the Okanagan and across the province. In 2007, Michael Taylor (CFO, CCO) joined the firm and brought considerable experience in the financial industry to help strategically expand NWM’s investment offerings.
Since its inception in 1994, the firm’s annual revenue has increased 1300% and now manages over $3-billion in assets. Today, the firm operates with over 100 staff and manages four offices (Vancouver, Kelowna, Richmond, and Toronto), advising high net worth client families of all professions and backgrounds.
Innovation & Integration
At the time the firm opened its doors, there was a severe lack of sophistication in the nascent wealth management industry. Business owners were sold insurance and told to invest in stocks, bonds and mutual funds, but it was nothing more than a slightly enhanced version of what an average investor would do.
With a keen understanding of the financial industry, its many vehicles, and the elaborate rules and regulations involved, over time the firm challenged conventional wisdom and developed a specialized planning approach for incorporated business owners:
- Build assets outside of your business that are not correlated to your company’s future performance.
- Reassess your compensation structure; in most cases, taking a salary and buying RRSPs is a less than ideal approach for incorporated professionals and business owners.
- Ensure your investment portfolio generates cash flow that is likely to be at least 50% of its long-term potential return.
- Design your life insurance to be an asset class, not simply an expense.
- Ensure your structure is tax efficient both now and with respect to your ultimate estate.
Instead of simply marketing various investments and insurance products, NWM’s team of advisors considered all parts of a client’s financial situation. Investments, insurance, compensation, taxes, estate planning and charitable giving were all measured together to create a comprehensive financial plan that took full advantage of a client’s unique circumstances.
The firm invited clients’ accountants, lawyers and other advisors to meetings and made a point of committing to constant communication and coordination with these fellow professionals, ensuring that all parties were on the same page and that all strategies were being implemented in the client’s best interest.
The simple, if innovative concept of taking a holistic and integrated approach to wealth management set Nicola Wealth Management apart from its competitors and set the stage for innovation to come. From being one of the first Canadian firms to embrace a fee-based structure, to creating unique access to premiere investments for its clients, this focus on innovation and building offerings “from our client’s perspective out” has been a guiding principle for the firm’s continued growth and a hallmark of its success.