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Wealth Management Insights from Financial Advisor and SPS Alum Nick Colombo

Wealth Management alum Nick Colombo is committed to helping families, corporate executives, and business owners achieve their financial goals. A financial advisor with Edward Jones, Nick specializes in crafting sophisticated strategies for clients, including those from Fortune 500 companies who require advanced planning for managing stock options.

In a recent chat, Nick (’24SPS, Wealth Management) shared insights from his financial-advising journey and highlighted the transformative impact his Master of Professional Studies in Wealth Management experience has had on his career. Nick joined the program to enhance his expertise and broaden his professional network.

What first drew you to financial advising? 

I started my first business in high school, and knew I wanted a career in business with an entrepreneurship focus. I have always been passionate about business, which led me to my undergraduate degree in Innovation & Entrepreneurship. After receiving my degree, I got my first experience in the industry as a recruiting consultant in wealth management. When I learned that financial advisors essentially run their own businesses, it opened my curiosity of what my life could look like in 10 to 20 years after building a successful practice. Many advisors have a focus on clients who are entrepreneurs and corporate executives in the business world, so I got even more excited about jumping in. 

Please briefly describe your current professional role.

I have been a financial advisor with Edward Jones for the past six years as a solo practitioner. I work with families, corporate executives, and business owners on their most important life goals, with financial-planning software to make sure they continue to stay on track. Within this process, I make recommendations on asset allocation and managing their assets within various portfolio objective models. My practice is based in Westchester County, New York, so many of my clients work for large Fortune 500 corporations with corporate stock options that need advanced planning. My other main focus is working with business owners who have unique cash flow needs and consult me on business-planning strategies, such as exit planning when preparing to transition through a business sale. 

Since joining Columbia’s Wealth Management program, I have focused my networking on business owners, investment bankers, and M&A [mergers and acquisitions] advisors for the lower-middle market segmentation to prepare for the wave of business transactions that are a part of the great wealth transfer.

What attracted you to Columbia’s M.P.S. in Wealth Management program?

 During my undergraduate years, I had goals of attending an Ivy League institution for a graduate degree. After starting my career as a financial advisor, MBA programs did not really line up with this role, and I pushed that vision to the side. A few years back, I started doing research on CFP® courses, since that is typically the kind of education programs that most financial advisors take on to gain this kind of knowledge. This is when I came across the master’s in Wealth Management program at Columbia SPS, which fit both of my goals of having an Ivy League institution on my résumé and also completing the CFP® requirements to be able to sit for the exam. I am happy to share that I passed my CFP® exam on my first try in March after completing the program!

What was it like to transition from the workforce to school again? 

Transitioning back into study mode was definitely an adjustment but was made easier through the program. Obviously, I am passionate about this industry, so the work didn’t seem as hard when I am genuinely interested in the content and eager to learn. We also had a great cohort where I got to build relationships with the other students with PBL [problem-based learning] group projects and discussion posts. Besides learning from the phenomenal professors, I was able to leverage the vast knowledge of the other cohort members to gain insight into different aspects of the career. We all have come from different backgrounds, geographies, and years of experience in the field that made the learning process much more enjoyable. 

What value does a master’s in Wealth Management from Columbia bring? 

The level of detail this program goes into for wealth strategies is wonderful. The PBL projects were challenging and forced us to look at cases in a different perspective than we might have handled ourselves. Not only was technical knowledge learned throughout the program, but there was a huge emphasis on client psychology and practice management. Everything we learned directly impacts the lives of our clients.

How would you describe the work you do in wealth management? What excites you about the field? 

If I could describe this career in one word, it would be “impactful.” My favorite aspect is the deep relationships I have with my clients and how I can be part of some of the most important decisions of their life. Being an advisor is more than just talking to families about their finances. These conversations intersect with health, family, and purpose. My value as an advisor goes well beyond managing portfolios, as clients trust me with sharing their dreams, goals, and concerns with all aspects of life that can impact their holistic plan.

What excites me the most about this field is the opportunity in front of me. Clients’ expectations are rising as the generations in front of me are getting older with major life changes coming up. The “Great Wealth Transfer” is still in the early stages where intergenerational wealth is transitioning at the largest and most significant pace. Gaining experience and building relationships in my community today will continue to pay off in the long run, where I know I will be able to provide an even bigger impact on families throughout my career.

About the Program

A 16-month online program with asynchronous instruction, specially designed to accommodate working professionals, Columbia University’s Master of Professional Studies in Wealth Management program is taught by distinguished faculty with deep, applied experience in their respective fields. Additionally, it is a CFP Board Registered Program designed to help students meet the educational requirements for CFP® certification.

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