John Nicola, CEO of Nicola Wealth Management, was just named CEO of the Year by Business in Vancouver magazine in the small-to-medium private company category. Kudos go out to Nicola, an industry icon in Canada’s wealth management industry, but whose greatest success might be the profit sharing plan that sets it apart from the rest of the industry.
“It makes staff engaged and committed because they have ownership,” Nicola told BIV about its profit sharing plan. “Distributing equity to the right people in the right way works.”
Nicola’s introduction of employee profit sharing has increased engagement at a time when the firm’s been growing rapidly – Investor Economics named it one of the fastest growing private investment counsel firms in 2014 – leading to even more growth and profits for those participating in the plan.
It’s hard to argue with his logic.
In 2014, Nicola Wealth Management paid out more than $1.2 million in profits to participating employees representing 22% of annual pay. Thirty people (25% of employees) are either shareholders or hold options to buy.
Still holding 54% of the firm’s equity, Nicola’s still very much at the helm. However, he’s learned that sharing in the profits puts everyone on the same page making it easier to make decisions about the firm’s future.
Back in 1998 Nicola and the rest of the Nicola Wealth Management team decided the time had come to move to a fee-based business model and they haven’t looked back. When the firm was founded (1994) it had approximately $80 in AUM; today, the firm manages $3.7 billion in AUM with plans to hit $5 billion in the near future. That’s two decades of 20%-plus annual growth.
Innovation such as profit sharing is key to Nicola’s success.
“We work hard to provide our clients, many of whom are business owners themselves, with a high standard of service and results,” Nicola stated in its press release accepting the award. “For us, that means constantly innovating and finding new avenues for building wealth and achieving their objectives.”