Black History Month Highlight: George Nichols III

George Nichols III, CAP®, is the first Black President and CEO of The American College of Financial Services. Nichols was also the first Black insurance commissioner in Kentucky, the first Black president of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, and the first Black person elected to New York Life’s executive management committee.

On entering financial services – “It was not planned!” Nichols says. He wanted to be a federal mediator with a Master’s in Labor Studies. However, after running a state psychiatric hospital at 28 and serving as a healthcare executive for a Blue Cross Plan in 1996, he was asked to spearhead the regulation of Kentucky’s $10 billion insurance industry as the state’s first Black insurance commissioner. From there, he spent 17 years at New York Life, where he held leadership roles in sales, strategic initiatives, and public policy. After New York Life, Nichols joined The American College of Financial Services, where he is committed to delivering financial education that betters society.

On inclusivity in financial services – Nichols recently created a plan to put more Black Americans on a path to upward mobility and wealth creation. His goal? To double the number of Black advisors by 2027. Nichols’ plan includes calling on all financial services industry sectors to promote racial equality and economic well-being. Nichols is actively developing financial education programs for Black women, creating a development program for Black professionals entering senior or executive roles, and recruiting more Black advisors.

Forging forward through a career of firsts – Nichols has transformed diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts in the financial services industry. His contributions have garnered recognition, including being listed in Savoy’s “Most Influential Black Corporate Directors” on three occasions (2012, 2018, and 2021), Forbes’ esteemed “The Culture 50 Champions” in 2021, and WealthManagement.com’s “The Ten to Watch in 2021.” Further accolades include the 2022 ThinkAdvisor LUMINARIES award for Executive Leadership and InvestmentNews’ acknowledgment in 2023 as a notable See It, Be It role model. Nichols is also the proud recipient of the Alonzo Herndon Award by Business Insurance Magazine, an award honoring the founder of Atlanta Life Insurance Company—one of the United States’ most significant and successful Black-owned businesses.

The best advice he’s received– “As my mother always said to me, ‘Only what you do for others will last!’”

Advice he would give– “Nothing beats a failure but a try…believe in yourself and step out on faith. You will be amazed at what you can accomplish.”

On what he’s proudest of– Knowing that he serves as a role model for others. “Through the years, I have had several people, especially women and Black people, share how my professional roles have positively impacted them. At times, it has been a heavy lift, but it has motivated me to do my best so the door can be open for others,” Nichols says.

 

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