VP points to its people, its drive, and its ‘share the pie’ philosophy
What makes Nicola Wealth the Employer of Choice for this year’s Wealth Professional Award?
“We would say our success is very much based on our people,” Vanessa Flockton, senior vice-president of Nicola Wealth’s advisory services, told Wealth Professional. “To be called an employer of choice and to be able to attract great people is what has made us so successful.”
That’s been a major plank for Nicola Wealth as it expanded from Vancouver to Toronto and underwent major staff growth, onboarding more than 130 staff virtually during the pandemic.
“I think we collaborate well, cross-functionally and generally as a group. But we also have this philosophy of sharing the pie,” she said. “Everybody is engaged in the organization and benefits from its long-term success. So, you get everybody committed to building the company and going above and beyond, wanting to find solutions. Our underlying culture is being really driven, but collaborative, and sharing the pie through caring about our people, our clients, and our community.”
Flockton noted that sharing the pie internally also means that every employee has a compensation package that combines base pay, bonus, and profit sharing of its 20% a year, or more, growth.
Nicola Wealth has been onboarding new advisors, but seeing that 80% of its new clients are also coming from referrals, so it’s getting enough new advisors to handle its new clients.
“The growth is so significant that we can keep pace with it by hiring new people,” said Flockton. “So, we’re on a significant hiring spree for advisors across the country, but definitely in Toronto, in terms of growing our GTA (greater Toronto area) market. We’re always looking at potentially larger acquisitions, but also individual advisors, from associates and junior advisors right up to senior.”
Nicola Wealth plans to add at least another 15 advisors to its team of 50 this year plus another 20 associates who are aspiring advisors.
During the pandemic, the firm has also formalized its associate to advisor development program to ensure that 80% of its new advisors come from its internal pipeline in the future. That means it’s hiring interns right out of school, then placing them in an internship program so they can become junior, then senior, associates, and finally, advisors.
“That way, we can get great talent, especially at that younger level with people in their 20s and 30s who know they’ll be supported in their overall development, so can see that career path,” she said.
Advisors also define goals and build business plans, with the company’s leadership team supporting their success because, Flockton said, “if they’re successful, the company is going to be successful” as it strives to meet its aspirational goal of reaching $25 billion in assets under management by 2025.
“We’re a growing, dynamic organization, and we have an entrepreneurial culture because everybody’s profiting in its success, so everybody has that mindset, and that makes a huge difference,” she said. “There’s a commitment and a drive across the organization, and I think that is what engages people and gets them excited.
“But I think our commitment to the community is one of our key values because we care about our people, clients, and community. We have a significant engagement with our community through charitable giving as well as engagement with different charities and we really encourage that with our people.”
Finally, Flockton thought its diversified asset allocation also sets its apart in the industry as does the deep relationships that its advisors form with their clients with their “client-first” philosophy.
As to what other advisor teams can learn from them, she noted that they’re very collaborative and don’t work in silos, but teams, with two advisors assigned to every client file so there’s opportunity to collaborate, learn, and develop as well as provide continuity for clients.
Innovation is also important both for clients and internally to better serve its staff and community.
All these values of sharing the pie and being driven, collaborative, caring, and innovative help Nicola Wealth achieve its purpose of dedicating its expertise to work with its valued clients, and its people, to achieve their aspirations beyond wealth to create personal and professional legacies that matter.
“When you’re working in a growth organization, the opportunities are limitless because it’s really the opportunities you create for yourself,” said Flockton.
“You need to create the right foundation and the right environment for people to be successful, and that’s what we’ve been focused on. All the advisors buy into the firm’s philosophy, and I think that’s really important. We’re all just really committed to the firm.”