Class of 2014
Matt Nikodym was vice president of wealth management at UBS Financial Services when he was selected. His community service includes work with Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Minnesota and United Arts of Central Minnesota.
What are you doing now?
My team and I continue to run a wholistic wealth management practice serving families and businesses in Central Minnesota and throughout the nation. We are still bringing the resources of UBS, the world's largest wealth management firm to the St. Cloud area. In January 2015 I was promoted to first vice president of wealth management.
How did the 5 Under 40 award affect your life?
It was a wonderful source of recognition. At a certain point the congratulations and well-wishes from people I know in the community became almost overwhelming. It was truly a humbling experience.
Other big changes since you received the award?
Because I am part of the most recent group of recipients of the 5 Under 40 award, not enough time has passed for any significant changes except for my promotion in January 2015. My goals remain the same, which are: to be a central figure in helping my clients realize their dreams and making our community a better place to live.
What will make the St. Cloud area greater in coming years?
I think people in the community need to get comfortable and confident enough that Central Minnesota can be a force of cultural and economic development. It seems as if we have a changing of guard going on in our community right now. The young professionals will need to be committed to being the driving force for change within our community. Remember that the grass is greener where you water it.
Originally ran: January 18, 2015
Matt Nikodym grew up in South Dakota, working in sales for several of his father's businesses. He helped start a toy store and worked in the service department of the family appliance store.
Seeking a good business school a moderate distance from home, he came to St. Cloud State University and stepped right from graduation into a job here with Piper Jaffray, which later became UBS Financial Services. Now he is vice president of wealth management of the UBS office in St. Cloud.
Single at the time, he could devote 80 hours a week to building the practice. He set a personal goal of making 20 contacts per day and wouldn't go home until he did so.
"I didn't have an ego," he said. "So when people told me no, I kind of expected it. I think in any business, you're going to hear no generally a lot more than you hear yes. You have to understand that it's not personal."
Why did you choose this field, and what has made you successful at a relatively young age?
I'd always thought I wanted to be an analyst and more in the investment banking side. I thought I'd eventually go on to get a masters and work on Wall Street. But, at the end of the day, my passion was people. I like solving problems and I knew (being an adviser) was going to require the same amount of hours. In the beginning, an analyst's job is to sit and stare at a computer screen and look at spreadsheets all day long. That wasn't me.
What got me where I am was hard work. That's cliche to a degree, but not having an ego and being honest were key. If I didn't know the answer, I'd tell you that but do everything I could to get you the answer as fast as I could. I also like helping people, whether that's in the practice or out in the community. Personally, that's a big driver.
How do you advise your clients to deal with the emerging issues of longevity and rising medical costs as they plan for retirement?
verything we do is centered around planning. Our practice is a holistic wealth management practice. It's investment management but with advanced planning. That can mean protecting what you have, it can mean wealth transfer, wealth enhancement, and philanthropy is in there, too. It all ties back to what the client wants to accomplish. We spend a lot of time sitting down in meetings to chart a course. We put together a plan and then every decision we make from that point on — whether it's what fund to invest in, what product to use, whatever it is — is always tied back to what we're trying to accomplish. The risks of increasing medical costs can be figured in and we run different scenarios for different outcomes. We do the same with inflation for longevity risks. What happens if you live to 100? If I've got two 65-year-olds sitting here, there's almost a 50 percent chance one is going to live to 100. So you're planning almost a 40-year retirement for some people. It's challenging.
You say baby boomers are supporting their children longer and 60 percent of Americans don't have enough saved for retirement. Why is this the biggest issue facing our society?
You go back 30, 40 or 50 years ago and a lot of companies had pensions. If you committed yourself in a career to a company, it was understood they would take care of you in retirement. That would replace your paycheck and the onus was on them to bear that liability. But you have enough market cycles come through and some miscalculations done, I would say, and companies are looking at those pension liabilities and saying ‘We can't do that.' They shifted the burden to the employee to save for their own retirement.
They offer a 401(k) or a 403(b) or and they'll match some of your savings. But it's on you to save for your own retirement. The problem is no one educated anybody on the importance of saving. You've got these generations moving through the system that know they should save but they don't know how fundamentally important it is. They think they've got Social Security, but that's not designed to replace all your income. You've got to save something on your own. But yet you go to high school and college and you don't get personal finance classes generally. ... I like educating people that they need to save on a monthly basis. They need to be taught how to budget and the power of compound interest. Thirty years seems so far away for a 25-year-old who may be working in a machine shop or something. But if you show them that $20 a paycheck can equate to $300,000 or $400,000 in the end. Those are real dollars.
What role do the arts play in your life?
My mother played the piano and the clarinet and was a very gifted musician. I grew up with music in the household. My dad was a drummer. Music has always been part of my life. I played the saxophone and branched out to other instruments and was in the choir. And yet, I played all kinds of sports. I love both and I still do. But the arts have been integral to me. It seems sometimes like you can't do both, and that's unfortunate. It's also unfortunate that the arts are usually the last one to get a dollar. I think there's a misconception that the arts support themselves with entry fees and admission fees. That's not the case. I attribute a lot of who I am to being well-rounded. The arts and being involved in music and performing in theater gave me a sense of who I was.
How has your experience with the Boys and Girls Club — working at Talahi Kidstop when you were in college to now being chair of the board — influenced you?
When I came to college, I wanted something to do for work and I applied on a whim. I grew up in a middle-income family. I never really wanted for anything. If I needed a new saxophone, my parents figured out a way to get it. It's not that we had everything, but, if I wanted to go on a trip, they made it possible for me. Then I go to Talahi and went to work 2-6 p.m. every day. It was an easy job for a college student, but I saw this difference you could make in just being there. It shocked me initially.
When I started my professional life, I went and asked if I could help the Boys and Girls Club and they said ‘Sure.' I joined the fundraising resource committee. As that progressed, I became the chair of the committee and then got on the board. That was eight years ago. Then they asked me if I wanted to get in line to be president. It's weird. They let a 23-year-old join their organization and are letting a 35-year-old lead it. I was just at our annual holiday lunch and I got up to give a speech as the board president. I remember sitting on the other side and listening to those guys in the suits and wondering what they were talking about.
How do you see Central Minnesota business changing in the next three years?
I think it's evolving (to) where St. Cloud is getting more and more competitive in the labor market against Minneapolis. Businesses have a lot of opportunity to grow. Attracting qualified employees will be somewhat an issue, but that's why having a strong, vibrant community is important — to attract young professionals. That's why I think the arts and the Downtown Council and things like that are important. As a college student, I didn't think St. Cloud had what it does. The business community has a lot going for it.
Family: Wife, Jessica; sons Jackson, 5, Derek, 2 and Ryan, 6 months.
Education: Bachelor's degree in finance from St. Cloud State University.
FYI: Board president of Boys and Girls Club of Central Minnesota. Past-president of United Arts of Central Minnesota.
Writes articles for monthly publication of the Central Minnesota Builders Association and serves on its golf committee.
On the campaign cabinet for the United Way of Central Minnesota. Helps raise funds and organize events for the Mid-Minnesota Cycling Club. To learn more, visit www.ubs.com.