The world of work has changed significantly over the last few decades. Where once landing a job and growing with a company was the norm, today more and more people stop and change direction midway through their careers; others successfully reinvent themselves several times throughout their lifetime. By all accounts, Nick Lee, Executive Vice Chairman of World Financial Group, is one of those success stories.
After immigrating to Canada from South Korea in 1982 at the age of 19, Nick studied computer science at the University of Waterloo. After graduation, he spent more than a decade in computer programming at large corporate entities like IBM and Bell. But Nick was always exploring options outside his chosen profession, growing a succession of different businesses at night and on the weekends. “I knew the lifestyle I wanted and knew the career path I was on was not going to bring the income I desired,” says Nick. “I knew entrepreneurship was the answer, and I wasn’t good enough to make it as an entrepreneur in computers,” he jokes.
In 1998 Nick joined World Financial Group, a full-service financial products company based in the U.S. that was branching out into the Canadian market. The firm provides financial consultation and education in the areas of insurance and investments, including individual and group life, disability, health and dental, and home and auto insurance, as well as annuities and mutual fund investments. “I was one of the pioneers for WFG in Canada,” says Nick. “They have an excellent program to help develop you as an entrepreneur, and they offered me an opportunity to explore the financial services business.”
Once he was able to earn a comfortable living, Nick resigned from his full-time job at Bell in 2000 and dove head first into entrepreneurship. “For eight years it was always go, go, go,” he says. “Leaving my 9-5 job in order to focus on my business was liberating.”
Today, Nick heads up an operation with more than 2,000 licensed advisors, and he is grateful for the opportunities that entrepreneurship affords. “I enjoy the freedom of time,” he says. “But the most rewarding part of running my own business is helping clients get out of debt and help them plan for their future. Helping to solve a client’s financial problems and seeing them succeed is what drew me to this business.”
Nick has relied on Sloan Partners for his accounting needs for the last two years. He is also a tenant at Sloan’s professional office building in North York. “I was using one of the local CPA firms in Toronto, but they were unable to help me with the challenges of U.S. and Canada tax filings. Allen Sloan offered to help and the professionals at Sloan have been able to help me a lot in my business,” says Nick. “Not all CPAs are created equal.”