Tenacity has always been part of Tea Nicola’s character. She realized that earlier than most when she and her mother escaped Bosnia as refugees in the early ’90s to start a new life in Canada.
She was only 16.
“When we had to leave our home because of the war, it was not by choice,” said the CEO and co-founder of WealthBar Financial Services, an online investment system she created with partner Chris Nicola in 2012.
Tea Nicola attributes her drive to succeed to those early experiences as a refugee, saying it gave her a persistence that might not have otherwise come to the fore.
“It was a factor in that I became somewhat like a dog with a bone when it came to everything from basically helping my mom get out in 1990 to lots of things.”
One of those things was her career and her company. The first of its kind in Canada, WealthBar is an online financial planning service tailored to middle-class investors.
After just over two and a half years, the service is available countrywide and has $150 million in assets under management.
Nicola studied as an engineer, but had been working on and off in wealth management while studying at Queen’s University.
“After I graduated it was kind of tough to get a job as an up-and-coming engineer,” she said. “I had the experience in finance so one of those first jobs that I took was at Sun Life and then I went back to engineering, and then back to Sun Life, then back to technology.”
She finally decided that the path forward would be to combine her finance experience with technology.
“What actually excites me is how much reduction in fees we can pass on to the consumer by using efficiency of the technology.”
Nicola is proud of her system but also proud of the team she has built through rigorous recruitment and maintained by prioritizing social events.
“Everybody who works here really likes working here. That’s something that’s really important to me and Chris.”
Banja Luka, Bosnia-Herzegovina
Where you live now:
Highest level of education:
Bachelor of applied science in mechanical and materials engineering
Scaling Up by Verne Harnish, High Output Management by Andrew Grove and Principles of Influence by Robert Cialdini (I always read more than one book at the same time. Not much time for fiction these days)
Currently listening to:
Even though my music interest ranges widely, my currently loaded Spotify album is Dystopia by Megadeth, which is one of my longtime favourite bands, and this is their new album
When you were a kid, what you wanted to be when you grew up:
A tour guide
Profession you would most like to try:
Law, or more specifically, being a judge. Critical thinking and the art of argument has always interested me
Toughest business or professional decision:
Toughest decision was to abandon the manufacturing industry and my degree and to explore finance and technology. I really love engineering and this was tough. However, I have no regrets and am really excited about helping Canadians achieve their financial independence
Advice you would give the younger you:
Trust your intuition more
What’s left to do:
There is always much more left to do than has already been done. The horizon is always out of reach and new waters are always ahead. In other words, “the same thing we’ve been doing so far, Pinky! Try to take over the world!”
Join us to celebrate the 2017 Forty under 40 Awards on January 23, 2018, at the Vancouver Convention Centre. For tickets and event info visit http://www.biv.com/events/40under40