What motivates someone who has built an eight figure financial advisory firm to continue growing?

For John Nicola, the founder and CEO of Nicola Wealth Management, it is the desire to build a sustainable business and leave a legacy.

All of us want to push as big a rock as we are capable of moving. The more capable the individual and the greater the motivation to excel, the bigger the rock they will attempt to push forward.

John Nicola’s vision is to build a $50,000,000+ business. It will rank as one of the biggest independent financial advisory firms in Canada. To achieve his objectives, John applies the mantra: “You have to do it yourself, and you can’t do it alone.

John has achieved the pinnacle of individual success as a financial advisor. He is a Top of the Table advisor, ranking in the top 1% of all advisors worldwide. His firm manages billions in assets on behalf of clients. Yet, he is reaching beyond personal accomplishment to build a world class financial advisory firm.

To build a great business requires a high level of individual and organizational effectiveness. There are four dimensions of individual effectiveness:

  1. Cognitive Capability
  2. Knowledge and Expertise
  3. Personal and Relationship Skills
  4. Motivation

Dr. Elliott Jaques, the behavioural scientist demonstrated that cognitive capability is an important determinant of individual effectiveness in a role.

Cognitive capability is the ability to exercise judgment to solve difficult problems. In his research, Jaques identified natural “strata” of cognitive capacity in individuals. Cognitive capability consists of our ability to deal with complexity.

Generally speaking, as a business grows and we assume more responsibility in building and managing the organization, we are required to perform more complex tasks.

In terms of cognitive capability, John Nicola is a transformative thinker. He is thinking and working on tasks related to growing the business over the next ten years and beyond (see previous blog postings entitled “Individual Roles, Capabilities, & the Right Organization – Parts 1-5“).

Knowledge and expertise become more involved and complex as we assume more responsibility. John is building an organization that presently has over fifty people and an eight figure revenue stream. In his role as CEO, he is required to develop knowledge and expertise in business strategy, putting in place the right structure and systems and in attracting and retaining the best people.

In short, he is required to work in parallel on tasks that include business and financial management, marketing, sales, client experience, acquisitions, talent pool development and career pathing. As an entrepreneur, he has learned on the job and through continuous study.

John Nicola is a great advisor who has learned how to be a leader and manager.

Personal skills include self management in such areas as time management, financial management, personal health and well being. Entrepreneurs, more than most people, must have discipline, patience, and faith.

Like other very successful entrepreneurs, John has a strong sense of personal accountability and an optimistic view of the future. Relationship skills are essential to building a high-performing team.

To build a great business, you have to be attuned to the needs of all the stakeholders in the enterprise from clients to employees, suppliers and the community.

John is at the Integrative Stage of his career development. He is able to work inside and outside his organization to address the needs of the various stakeholders.

Generally speaking, we are motivated to do work that we value. My experience in working with very bright people like John Nicola to help them in realizing their vision is that the motivation to grow is tied to the desire to do more intellectually challenging work.

There is a lot of complexity involved in building a $50,000,000+ business. There are very few people who can do it. The drive to excel comes from a willingness to extend oneself in order to achieve great things, combined with the ability to meet the intellectual challenge, learn the necessary knowledge and skills and gain personal and interpersonal mastery.

However, as John Nicola will readily attest, the realization of the $50,000,000+ vision will be dependent upon building organizational capability.

Elliott Jaques characterized this determinant of success as the Requisite Organization. Build the organization and the organization will build the business. Nicola Wealth Management has a very strong management team with John as the CEO, David Sung as the President and the leader of the Planning team, Jamie Duncan as the Chief Operating Officer responsible for the overall operations of the company, Karen Ikeda, responsible for the Wealth Management Division and Rob Edel as the Chief Investment Officer.

Each of the senior managers brings a depth and breadth of knowledge and expertise in their disciplines. John Nicola and the rest of the management team recognize that each of the firm’s leaders provides unique abilities that are complementary to each other. Diversity does breed strength.

The senior leadership has a strong commitment to attracting and retaining the best people and providing them with the professional development necessary to realize their potential. The firm is investing heavily in the training and development of the people in the organization.

In addition, there is a significant commitment to putting in place a state-of-the-art technology platform that supports the delivery of exceptional service to the High Net Worth (HNW) market.

All great leaders recognize that they can only realize the fullness of their potential by surrounding themselves with very capable people and bringing out the best in them.

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