Mentoring yields dividends at Nicola Wealth - Nicola Wealth

Mentoring yields dividends at Nicola Wealth


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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, and has significantly expanded 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 her or him to the organizational structure as well as the people, culture and practices. From there, newcomers 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 associates with mentors and internal study groups.

Nicola has advisors of varying levels of tenure and expertise. Tenured advisors tend to partner with clients who 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.

 

This story was produced by Mediacorp in partnership with Postmedia, on behalf of Nicola Wealth.