Boasting a comprehensive understanding of the entire business and investment lifecycle, Nikki Newton, President of Private Wealth Management at UMB Bank, has been successful driving sustainable revenue augmentation and profitability, and maintaining long-standing client relationships, which has enabled achievement of business objectives, including revenue growth, cost reduction and enterprise development.
Nikki leverages his 25+ years of global executive experience to attract top-performing talent, provide clear direction, and foster an inclusive, accountable environment that is value-driven, success oriented and financially strong enough to advance the organization’s long-term vision.
Dreams and aspirations as a young adult
At an early age Nikki knew what he wanted to be when he grew up. He always wanted to be in banking. Like every child, he also had the more traditional dreams of being an astronaut or professional athlete in his childhood, but by 7th grade, at 12 years old, Nikki was sure that he wanted to be a part of the investment business.
He took an economics course in 7th grade from a wonderful teacher, Chuck, who was really fascinating, and Nikki thought that all this makes sense. From then on, he started watching Wall Street Week with Louis Rukeyser every Friday night on PBS, which his parents thought was odd, but Nikki loved listening to the panelists and hearing about the markets and market expectations. Nikki’s mom, who happened to be a high school counselor, recommended he start taking economic courses in high school recognizing that he had a true passion for it. Today, Nikki considers himself extremely fortunate to have a career that aligns with that dream as president of Private Wealth Management at UMB.
“If I could tell myself at 12 years old that I landed exactly where I wanted to be, I never would have believed it. But it’s truly amazing what you can do when you just put your mind to it and continue to chase a passion,” says Nikki.
An unusual career path to UMB
After graduating high school, Nikki attended the University of Central Arkansas and in what felt like relative short order, he was both a failed academic and athlete, and needed to make a change.
Nikki ended up leaving and joining the Army where he became a nuclear and biological chemical warfare specialist. He was stationed to Fort McClellan in Alabama. He served two active years and five years on the active ready reserve. Nikki states that it was during his time in the military that he learned how to be the strong and confident leader he is today. His time in the service helped him learn how to prioritize and manage a schedule, but it also taught him about leadership and the hierarchy of command.
“There was a definite chain of command, and you learn to respect it. I liked the structure, but I also liked how supportive of an environment it was. If you had questions, you asked them, and they were answered. You were given clear guidelines and definitive direction and were expected to execute on them. This type of working environment was something I thrived in and how I structure my team today,” states Nikki.
After he left the military, Nikki received his bachelor’s degree in finance and a minor in economics. From there, he received an MBA from Washington University in St. Louis. His first job during school was an internship at UMB’s mortgage company. After completing his internship, Nikki’s boss walked him across the street to the bank and he interviewed for an entry level position. Nikki accepted the job, completed the rest of his school year and joined the bank in 1993.
In 1998, Nikki moved to Waddell & Reed where he held various positions in the investment management space. After working for almost 20 years there, he went back to where it all started and joined UMB as the president of Private Wealth Management. Truly a full circle moment!
UMB Bank and its services
UMB Financial Corporation is a financial services company headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri. They offer commercial banking, which includes comprehensive deposit, lending and investment services, personal banking, which includes wealth management and financial planning services, and institutional banking, which includes asset servicing, corporate trust solutions, investment banking and healthcare services.
Built on a foundation of stability and soundness, for more than a century, UMB has proven to be a strong financial steward for their customers and the communities they are part of. They have been able to maintain who they are and what they value, while continuing to evolve and grow, which is something that makes them unique and is key to the bank’s success.
There is a strength and security that comes with an institution who has been around for more than a century. People do business with UMB because they trust what they do and the counsel they provide. As a relationship-based bank, their focus is on consistently delivering an outstanding client experience.
Nikki believes at the center of their work at UMB Private Wealth Management are people’s hopes and dreams, their life goals and their vision of success. “My goal each day is to provide the leadership, direction and encouragement to enable our team to help fulfill those dreams for our clients,” he states.
Vision for the bank
As president of Private Wealth Management at UMB, Nikki is responsible for the development and strategic execution of UMB Private Wealth Management initiatives, including service and revenue goals and managing senior leadership.
Nikki states that he would like to see the Private Wealth Management group be a larger contributor to the overall bank profitability as they continue to grow their assets under management and services.
“We want to be a good diversifying vehicle for commercial growth and be at the front and center and top of mind for our clients every day,” he explains.
Nikki wants their clients to feel and think that they are partnering with them to solve a need. “If we can effectively do that and show we care, while helping them understand what we’re doing for them – that combination is powerful,” he says.
Nikki’s professional contribution to the industry
“My greatest contribution to the industry was choosing and sticking with this profession as oftentimes I was the only black person at nearly every conference or meeting I attended. Even in the early days of my career, there weren’t a lot of women in the industry. Today, that is not the case, and it certainly has changed for the better. We see a lot more people of color and women in the wealth management and private investments space, and I would like to think I’ve played a small part in helping spark that change,” Nikki proudly states.
Work-life balance & personal goals
“I wasn’t great at maintaining a healthy work-life balance for a long time,” Nikki admits.
Before joining UMB, he was traveling across the country and world almost every week and it became exhausting. He didn’t realize how off balance his life was until he left his prior job. When Nikki joined UMB, his daughter told him how excited she was that her dad would be home more.
“That really struck a chord for me,” Nikki exclaims. Now, he consciously takes the time to make sure he prioritizes his family in all he does. However, it is still a work in progress.
Nikki’s top personal goal right now is, in partnership with his wife, Kim, to raise their teenage daughter, Piper. This goal certainly comes with its own unique set of challenges and fun with each phase.
Nikki is also on the board for the Health Forward Foundation, a Kansas City organization that is dedicated to supporting and building inclusive, powerful and healthy communities characterized by racial equity and economically just systems. They advocate for the health of people that make communities thrive and their efforts focus on whole-person care — from physical and behavioral to oral health and social services. This organization provides services to improve all the social causes that result in poor health for primarily black, brown and rural communities and Nikki is extremely passionate about the cause, their mission and the great work they do in Kansas City.
Nikki’s advice for aspiring black professionals is: ‘find something you are passionate about and focus on doing your job well. There is no doubt we have work to do in the areas of race and inclusion and what better way to continue that work than being a part of the change.’ It’s the position Nikki adopted and one he wholeheartedly recommends. He also recommends spending time out of country, exploring other cultures. He believes that this would give you a great perspective on things that make people different, not just race.