For his role as special adviser to Davey, Nicholson was paid an annual salary of £80,000. 
Nicholson in 2012 called for the coalition to slash the Winter Fuel Allowance, maternity pay and free bus passes. Just two weeks before he was hired as Davey’s special adviser Nicholson urged his Tory colleagues to be bolder in their spending cuts: He argued that Winter Fuel Allowance should be stripped back and taken away from those aged 60-65. He also called for free bus travel and TV licences to be “strictly means-tested” and taken from about 50% of pensioners. 
Nicholson has a background as a government economist. Before joining CentreForum, a liberal think-tank in June 2010, he was a partner in the corporate finance group at KPMG and the firm's Head of Public Sector.
While at KPMG, Nicholson advised on infrastructure finance, utility regulation, energy market reform and public service reform. He left KPMG in 2010 to fight the Streatham Parliamentary seat for the Liberal Democrats. Prior to standing Nicholson had made a number of large donations to the party totalling almost £300,000. He is a former Leader of Kingston Council.
As of early 2012, Nicholson was the third CentreForum director to leave to work as a special adviser in the UK Coalition government. 
- Tweets as @ChrisANicholson. Unusually continued to use his Twitter account after becoming a SPAD. His biog read: "Special Adviser in DECC, Former Director of CentreForum and Lib Dem candidate for Streatham. Tweets have to be largely non-political". 
In August 2015 it read: 'Ex many things. SPAD in DECC, Director CentreForum,Lib Dem candidate for Streatham, KPMG partner, Cllr & London Council Leader. Now looking for something new'
- Chris Nicholson, LinkedIn, accessed 25 April 2012
- CentreForum, Chris Nicholson to leave CentreForum, the liberal think tank, press release 23 March 2012, accessed 25 April 2012
- Special advisers in post, 30 November 2014 GOV.UK, accessed 30 April 2015
- ED DAVEY’S SPAD: CUT FUEL ALLOWANCE, MATERNITY PAY AND BUS PASSES Political Scrapbook, 16 April 2012, accessed 16 October 2014
- 'Lib Dem candidate accused of 'buying seat'', The Independent, accessed 29 August 2016
- [https://twitter.com/chrisanicholson @ChrisANicholson, accessed 5 September 2012