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How Nest Wealth became talent-rich

Founded

  • 2014

Sector

Services

Founder and CEO Randy Cass explains how his company attracted and retained great employees with a little help from MaRS.

Most founders agree: hiring and retaining good people is the hardest part of building a company. And it’s particularly daunting for startups since they have fewer resources (capital, HR staff, etc.) and less brand profile than their corporate competition. In short: even the most attractive tech companies need a little help when it comes to hiring.

“Ontario is a global hotbed for talent,” Randy Cass says. “The challenge is finding the right people — employees with passion and grit — to take your organization to the next level.

MaRS helped Nest Wealth grow at a crucial moment in our history.

 

Founded in 2014, Nest Wealth is a financial services startup for people looking to quickly invest for the long-term without hassle. The company’s robo-adviser platform, an automated wealth manager that can be accessed on your phone, assesses a customer’s appetite for risk through a brief survey. Once the customer approves the strategy, the tech runs their portfolio by investing across exchange-traded funds — diverse collections of stocks, commodities, bonds and so on. Unlike traditional advisers, Nest Wealth’s fees are low ($20–80 per month) and never change, regardless of account size.

With such an in-demand product, Randy and his team found a strong customer base early on that kept growing. But keeping pace proved difficult, especially when building his company beyond the invisible threshold of 20 employees. “It was one of the toughest things to stay on top of,” Randy says.

Luckily, Randy had a close relationship with MaRS. Already involved in mentorship programs at MaRS as a teacher, he was immediately impressed by MaRS Talent’s expert knowledge and deep bench. And MaRS, in turn, saw great potential in Nest Wealth. “Randy was deeply committed to great experiences for both candidates and employees,” says Daneal Charney, director of talent services at MaRS.

Daneal quickly enrolled Nest Wealth in the pilot version of the MaRS talent accelerator. Through its many offerings, the program helped Randy and his team:

  • understand and execute on HR best practices;
  • attract potential employees by improving Nest Wealth’s corporate website;
  • access otherwise expensive compensation studies to benchmark against the competition;
  • negotiate preferential rates with top-notch recruiting firms; and
  • meet potential employees and clients at industry events.

Most importantly, Randy was able to build lasting relationships with professionals across the tech ecosystem — a tightknit community of entrepreneurs, investors, scientists and, of course, talent. Randy sums it up like this: “Because MaRS has great employees of its own, the services provided were more than transactional. They genuinely cared about our success and introduced us to people that have added so much value to our company.”

Today, Nest Wealth has grown to a company of 47 and is considered one of Canada’s best workplaces. As it ascends into the 50–100 employee range, Randy plans to leverage MaRS resources to build on an already solid talent foundation. That includes crafting a more competitive compensation strategy, identifying as a MaRS-supported startup in online marketing, and being featured at the MaRS HR Marketplace, a one-stop shop for companies looking for talent services and providers.

And while Nest Wealth has always been diverse, its current talent priority is to hire more women. The company is 30 per cent female, and Randy wants that number to be 40 per cent before the end of the year. It’s something he takes seriously as an employer and role model, given that the financial sector remains male-dominated.

It’s been a long journey for Randy, one that has seen him become a leader in Toronto’s growing tech community. When he founded his first fintech company in Toronto back in 2005, industry contacts and investors from abroad had little interest in the city’s ecosystem. How things have changed. “These days, VCs from all over ask me if they can visit our headquarters; they’re making special trips,” Randy says. “Toronto has really solved the problem of talent attraction.”

Seems like Randy’s solved the same problem at Nest Wealth.

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