Nick has been in the financial services industry for over twenty years. His passion for the industry was weighed primarily in the ability to work directly with families and businesses in a way that would truly impact their lives and the generations that follow them. After working across several major companies throughout his career, Nick decided to build his own Firm to fully realize his vision for a business model that would arm clients with the knowledge and tools to plan for their tomorrow. Nick takes an educational approach to financial planning.
He aims to lead his clients down the right path while providing a complete picture of the road ahead. Part of his comprehensive process involves his team members and the unique skills they offer to best serve the clients of Inspire Wealth. In addition to providing clear action steps, Nick encourages his clients to use their wealth as a tool to create memories along with a legacy enjoying the wealth they have built with their loved ones now and creating lasting memories before leaving it behind for future generations to inherit. When it comes to making memories and family values, Nick likes to practice what he preaches.
He and Jen, his wife of nineteen years, enjoy spending time at their family cottage on Long Lake with their two children, Toby and Olivia. They enjoy all sorts of quality time, from off-roading on the trails to relaxing sunsets. For Nick, helping his clients achieve the comfort and confidence to enjoy their wealth with their family, as he does, is his life’s greatest passion.
For more details, visit his LinkedIn here.
Here we sit down with Nick, to know a bit more about his journey as an entrepreneur.
Q. Tell us a little more about your journey as an entrepreneur – how did you get started? What inspired you?
Nick: I own and operate a financial planning firm, and I’ve been in my industry for about 20 years, my entrepreneurial journey truly on my own began in mid-2016.I have had a lot happen since then, I’ve had a couple of different firms that I’ve owned or CO owned, with a business partner, I currently own Inspire Wealth and operate on my own.
I started the Inspire Wealth brand, after parting ways with a partner about a year and a half ago. I have had a ton of changes over the last five or six years. Like most entrepreneurs, there have been ups and downs, personal things, and business situations that you have to adjust to being successful and keep moving forward. I would say entrepreneurs have to manage and wear several hats, they have employees to think about, the clients, and the business.
The struggles are everyday, tough decisions that impact numerous people. The things clients don’t always think about are concerned if they can trust me and my firm with their life savings. I need to do the administrative things and the marketing. Making tough decisions should I invest the money in the marketing strategy or should I pull back. How do I get new clients? I’m always second-guessing myself when I add an administrative person or operations manager. I’ve gone through a ton of tough decisions over the last four or five years, and I do feel like I’m finally at a point where I’m on an upward momentum. I have an operations manager now and she does a lot of behind-the-scenes which has been a huge help.
Q. What are your long-term goals in business? Paint a vision for the future
Nick: So as you know, as an entrepreneur and owning a financial planning firm, a couple of things. Number one, how I feel that I want to differentiate us as a firm is to be that true financial planning, big picture, one-stop place for small business owners, medical professionals, and retirees to work with when it comes to their overall financial planning. What I mean by that is, I don’t just want to do investments, I don’t just want to do insurance, I want them to know I have tax planning experts and Estate Attorneys. I really believe it’s important for me to make sure I have the right people in the right seats, meaning I am not going to try to do everything, that’s impossible. I want to really be the face and who people can trust to help take care of their life savings. I’m really a relationship guy.
I’m really a problem solver. The firm that will provide solutions. I help people with planning so they know that for any issue or concerns that come their way our firm has the expertise to solve them. Whether you need tax planning, passing your assets to your heirs efficiently, whether it’s making sure your income is coming from the right places for taxes, Medicare decisions, long-term care planning, health insurance planning, employee benefits for business owners, all of those things.
I personally may not be an expert and that’s ok, I have the right people either specifically employed by the firm or a partnership of the firm where we have a strategic alliance where I’ve vetted them, I trust them. Our clients need to feel like when anyone on our team recommends someone, we have the utmost trust in them and that they can feel the same way.
So as an example, as an estate-planning attorney, and a business attorney, we’re just starting to launch our Medicare arm for Michigan, My team behind the scenes has been doing it for about five years in the Atlanta area and has all the resources I need. I’m bringing on one person that’s been doing Medicare for eight years, I’m looking at another one that’s been doing it for about 10. Those are examples of what I mean, This is what I want over the long haul is to be that true financial planning firm, that every client can feel that we have their best interests in mind and that any area of concern that we have the expertise, or we know who does in that area.
Q. What motivates you?
Nick: You know, it’s interesting, what motivates me is the struggles I’ve seen from other clients and from other people over the years, is that in my mind have gotten taken advantage of by other advisors that have portrayed that they’re a financial planner and they are truly not and are just managing their money.
I truly see the advisor just literally just managing investments. I’ve had so many clients come in, or potential clients come in that have said, I have a financial planner, or I have two financial planners, and I ask them how do you feel about tax planning right now? Do you feel like you’re positioned properly? Do you guys talk about taxes? No. Have you talked about what, when, and how to optimize Social Security? No. So what is that individual really helping you with? Well, they manage my Roth and my traditional IRA and my non-IRA account, okay so you have an investment manager, you don’t have a financial planner. So that’s really what motivates me is the unfortunate encounter of clients that feel like they are ok and taken care of and they really have more work to do especially on the tax side.
Other advisors and I’m not gonna say that every industry, has got good and bad Professionals. I’m saying the advisors that are truly apparent to me that they’re just trying to sell annuities as an example as a commission-based product. Where they’re not truly acting in the client’s best interest. I mean, I have another potential client right now that came to one of my workshops, and who has been working with another advisor for about six, or seven years. The advisor point blank said, oh yeah I’m a fiduciary and I’m looking at what he did and he’s not a fiduciary he is at a broker-dealer, he’s independent. He’s what I call a hybrid fiduciary because he can only offer what the broker-dealer allows him to and everything this client has is an annuity. It’s all commission-based, there’s no tax efficiency in place or even tax planning being done.
There’s no trying to manage assets to do proper planning. That’s what motivates me, when I see bad things or things I know I can improve upon, for clients wanting to do better, wanting to give clients what I want, for my family, for my friends. I want them to feel the confidence that they know that we’re looking out for their best interest first and foremost and that we’re always going to be there to answer questions and take care of them.
Q. What business-related book has inspired you the most, or, what is your favorite book?
Nick: There are so many, especially in the last five years, I would say, I’m a member of Ed Slott’s Elite Advisor Group, there are only about 400 advisors across the country that invest a ton in additional education around retirement distribution planning. The retirement tax time bomb is one that he wrote, I really, really liked that one. David McKnight has got a couple of books to look for. One is The Power of 0% and how to get to the zero percent tax bracket.
Some of that stuff is very inspiring for me and some of it is the old days. I mean, Think and Grow Rich. I mean, some of those. When I first got into the business, this is really when I started in the industry eons ago. Some of those books they’re just timeless and it’s all about grit and work ethic and putting clients first, putting people first. Those are the types of things that truly matter to me.
Q. What strategies do you use to optimize your performance or mindset?
Nick: I feel like I’m just always open-minded and always willing to learn and listen. It’s interesting, because my operations manager, even though she has only worked with me for about two months now. and there’s been so many times she’ll roll her eyes, or she’ll shake her head, because I will literally, even if I’m busy, I’ll find time to take a call with a marketing company or take a call with someone else. Whether they’re a professional in my industry, whether they’re a professional in another industry that could Help me or relate to my industry, or just an entrepreneur, and part of the reason why is because I feel like you can always learn from someone else. I feel like that was the mindset I had when I got into the industry.
I was 22 When I started, I mean, I literally read every magazine, every article, anything I could read and get my hands on, I read and that’s when I was meeting with clients in their 60s and they were looking at me like you’re in your 20s. How could you help me? I really believe that the reason I was able to portray my knowledge is that I read everything and I absorbed as much as I could.
So those are things that I think are very important is always being open, always being willing to learn, my mindset, a lot in my life personally, I’ve kind of taken a step back over the last five, six years, from the standpoint of you got to take time, and enjoy family. We really don’t know how long we have to be here. I lost my dad about six years ago, and that kind of hit home for me. I really feel part of the reason I am where I am right now. I make sure I spend time with family and I’m making memories. I’ll still work half the morning, even if I’m up north or on vacation, like my last call today is at 1030 and I’ll be done by 11. I get the rest of my day to hang out and do whatever we want to do but those are other things that I think are important. I see a lot of business owners and professionals that all they try to do is work and that’s also not a good work-life balance. You will get burned out if you don’t have balance, you have to make sure you take time to kind of reset so that you can go back in with maybe a fresh perspective because you haven’t been in it for the last week or a few days even. So that’s what is important to me, that’s kind of how I feel I optimize that.
Q. If you were to write a book about yourself, what would you name it?
Nick: I’m gonna name it if I’m going to name it specifically geared toward my entrepreneurial journey, and not name it, something related to financial planning, or education for clients, I think I would say persistence, I got to think about this, because I want to say like, persistence is everything or I want to say Never give up and never stop learning.
I think that’s kind of been the mantra I’ve tried to instill in myself, not only from a business standpoint but also from a personal standpoint is you just gotta keep going, you gotta keep pushing forward. Make sure you take a positive mindset as often as you can.
This is something I mean, my ops manager wants to be an advisor and wants to do what I do. She was the same age as me when I started. I kind of told her, if I get stuff in the mail, or stuff that, I started to hand her and say you read this. She normally kind of laughs at me because I handed her a magazine last week and said, read it. You always want to learn, observe, and read. That is the way you’re gonna learn. Read everything you can, and you’re gonna start deciphering what’s good info, and What’s bad info? What’s bullshit, what’s not bullshit. This is exactly how I learned during my first three to five years, I think that’s important.
Q. What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made?
Nick: That’s a tough one. I mean, worthwhile investments, I guess it depends on how you look at it. I mean, I could very easily say, when I started, breaking away from the corporate world, I threw all my 401k into Tech and obviously, tech just exploded because that was in 2016.
I don’t even know what it would be worth right now, because of the recent influx in the market, but I mean, that account has almost quadrupled in five years, mainly because my biggest holdings were Apple, Netflix, Amazon, and you think and go back and look at what those were trading at in 2016. And what they did from then probably 2021, like the end of 2021, because that’s when I moved to cash. And now I’m reinvesting into other things for the longer term. So that’s just an example of a typical investment. I mean, there are other things I’ve done from an investment standpoint in myself, I mean, I look at what I have done and have to realize I’ve got two designations after my name.
I’m certified in long-term care that I got almost two years ago and I’m a national security certificate holder that I got earlier this year. Feels like those two and really the Ed Slott Elite Advisor group because I just joined that this year. It has been truly eye-opening and I’ve learned so much from it and I’ve created real relationships that I never would have had.
I think that the best investment I’ve ever made, I think is always how I view it? You don’t view it from a monetary standpoint? Or do you view it from an educational perspective? What impact does that truly make in not only your practice but maybe in your life? How those are things that I think about too. So if I had to pick one of them, I would say so far, the Ed Slott investment for this year, I think, was probably one of the biggest ones I’ve made over my 20 years and career.
Q. Where do you see the future in your niche/industry 3-5 years from now?
Nick: I think the financial advising financial planning industry is going to continue to compress. There has been a lot of talk about fee compression with what advisors charge for the assets under management, and that’s going to continue to evolve, I also really believe that a lot of the Gen Z’s and the millennial some of them are going to try to do things themselves, they already are, and just going to, trying to reinvent the wheel with things like Robin Hood, and things like using brokerage houses like that. I think some are just going to go to the typical Schwab TD Ameritrade fidelity, trying to do it themselves.
So I think, from the standpoint of the industry over the next three to five years, part of the reason why I’m really more focused on my niche, and what I’m trying to do from a business standpoint, is because of the involvement of the industry, and what I see in the next three to five years, I believe that outside of tax planning for pre and post retirees because it’s such a big piece for them, or health care planning, and how Medicare is going to intertwine with your retirement. That’s also why even though I’m not going to do it personally, that’s why my team is because I think it’s an important piece.
So I think we’re gonna see the industry as a whole, really start to separate. Meaning, if you’re an advisor, that’s just managing assets, I think you’re gonna have to get creative on how you obtain clients and what you charge and how you charge clients. Because I think that’s gonna get lower, and that’s gonna get discounted versus firms like myself, and our firm that we are truly full service, I think we will be able to continue operating how we do now for either a longer period of time or indefinitely because we are looking at so many other parts of their financial life and truly doing full service, not just managing their investments, we’re helping them with Medicare, we’re helping them with long term care planning, we’re helping them create their income buckets. We’re doing all that and that’s all encapsulated within the advisory fee we charge. We don’t charge an additional planning retainer-like some firms do.
So I feel like in the next three to five years the industry is going to separate because of some of the things I just said. I think there are too many that are trying to portray themselves as planners, and the industry is gonna get a little stricter on how you are a planner. What are you doing? Are you truly full service? I think those things are going to start getting asked and overlooked more.
Q. What is your ‘one-sentence’ piece of advice you’d like to give to someone who wants to become an entrepreneur, coach, or business owner?
Nick: Make sure that you’re having in-depth conversations with other entrepreneurs or business owners that you aspire to be. Make sure that you’re always learning, those are things that I would stress. I do like that, that’s part of me, too. I’ve got a really good friend that I hired in the business that’s been extremely successful in his practice.
I talked to him, I talked to other individuals that I meet at these conferences. I’m always trying to connect with others, that’s part of the relationship piece. What are you doing? How are you doing it? What are you doing differently? Like, those are all the things that I think are so important, from a business standpoint, and I think that advisors in our industry lose sight of that.
They feel like they’re not really running a business. They’re just trying to bring on clients, and they don’t look at it as the big picture. And I do. To keep up to date with Nick and his journey, connect with him on his Facebook, and LinkedIn.