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50 Best Workplaces of the Year 2020

An Interview with Michael LeBlanc, FCT CEO: ‘We pride ourselves on being able to provide a work culture where every employee feels valued and empowered to be their best selves and to encourage their colleagues to do the same’

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“Communication is so important at FCT, and we make a proactive effort to check in with our employees regularly to discuss their passions, interests and goals.”

The global insurance market is experiencing a technological shift. Digital-first business models are the product of traditional insurance companies and InsurTech companies collaborating more than ever, testing new business models and revenue streams fuelled by new technology. Most importantly, emerging technology trends can reduce operational costs by preventing fraud and automating services, thereby freeing up insurance agents to acquire and maintain business.

In light of the foregoing, we’re thrilled to present  FCT, a national leader and service provider in real estate technology.

Historically, FCT has classified itself as a title insurance company, dating back to its roots of pioneering the industry in Canada in 1991. Twenty-nine years later FCT remains the national leader of residential and commercial title insurance along with delivering data-driven products that span the real estate lifecycle. The company is headquartered in Oakville, Ontario, Canada.

Michael LeBlanc, FCT CEO, spoke exclusively to The Silicon Review. Below is an excerpt.

Q. Why do property buyers and lenders need title insurance?

Investing in a title insurance policy is critical to protect residential or commercial property owners and their lenders against losses, unexpected costs and delays related to a property. Title insurance assumes a reasonable risk on behalf of a buyer and lender and streamlines the process to enable transactions to close quickly and efficiently.

Title insurance policies also protect against fraud by ensuring that any red flags are raised and investigated by experienced and highly skilled underwriters. Unlike traditional insurance policies, title insurance policies go the extra mile to protect against unknown issues that have occurred before the policy’s effective date.

The policies also offer peace of mind to property buyers and lenders because they know that the deal has been reviewed by underwriting experts and that they are covered against losses associated with the defects and validity of a mortgage.

Q. Many claims take time to process because insurance companies need to assess the damage and determine an accurate accounting of loss. How can the process be less time-consuming?

At FCT, our commitment to innovation means that we’re invested in finding new solutions through data and technology to help make processes less time consuming and help our customers operate more efficiently and with peace of mind. We continue to reach out to our customers and offer assistance through various innovations that we have brought to the market, and we constantly seek to refine and improve our services to better serve them. 

In our current climate, the acceleration of digital solutions and transition to online communications has allowed us to communicate faster with all of our customers, while at the same time streamlining the closing of real estate deals for all parties involved – from lenders to lawyers to brokers.

As breakthroughs in technology and data continue to shape the industry, our goal is to be at the forefront of what’s possible and to continue to build new technology that will allow us to process claims more efficiently.

Q. ‘When people are having fun, they work together better, and they produce better work.’ How do you interpret this saying?

We’re inspired by the amazing people who work at FCT – the ones who make us better every day – and we believe the key to success is our employees. We’re invested in providing a supportive environment that allows every employee to thrive, as they have, and continue to make the company what it is today – a recognized great place to work.

For years, we have believed that taking steps to help our employees feel healthy, happy and valued is the key to a successful and productive workforce. Supporting and encouraging our employees was critical before the pandemic and continues to be a point of emphasis as these unprecedented times continue.

As an example, FCT joined the award-winning employee engagement platform ‘Achievers’ to help increase our employees’ understanding of corporate priorities and to recognize their achievements. Within the platform, we developed a ‘Keeping us Connected’ program, to recognize all the ways our employees are working to push through the challenges of our current climate.

This program encourages FCT employees to recognize and motivate each other daily and recognize colleagues for their courageous and innovative efforts to work and act differently during this time. We also just launched ‘Coffee Chats,’ an innovative employee engagement program that encourages collaboration – and chats – between FCT employees.

Growing the company based on employees’ passions must be the priority. Do you ask your employees what they are interested in doing and how they would like to see their career unfold?

Communication is so important at FCT, and we make a proactive effort to check in with our employees regularly to discuss their passions, interests and goals.

To empower employees, we believe you have to communicate with them, understand their interests and listen to their stories. We believe this so deeply that we visited our offices across Canada before the pandemic to speak to employees and hear their stories.

We learned what set them on a particular path in life, achievements that they’re proud of and obstacles they’ve had to overcome. To highlight some of these employees and their inspiring stories we launched an Inspiring Stories campaign to showcase those lessons of compassion, courage and hope. 

Q. A good workplace stresses teamwork while still encouraging individual achievement and creativity. Does your company follow the same strategy?

Absolutely! At FCT, we pride ourselves on being able to provide a work culture where every employee feels valued and empowered to be their best selves and to encourage their colleagues to do the same.

Our unique employee benefits, learning and development opportunities, and recognition programs, along with a dedication to our charitable initiatives across Canada are just some of the ways we show that we’re invested in our employees and communities in which we work.

We also work hard to create an inclusive culture, as we believe this is integral to the success of our organization and making sure our employees feel encouraged and valued.

Q. Trust is a difficult attribute to measure and a delicate dynamic to maintain. How do you maintain this with your employees?

Trust is certainly one of the driving forces behind any successful organization and a value that has become especially important to our team in recent months.

From the outset of the pandemic, the three factors governing FCT’s ability to weather 2020 and maintain trust with both our employees and customers quickly became apparent: flexibility, technological integration and our focus on people.

The flexibility allowed us to adapt and reconfigure processes, while technological integration allowed us to use technology to reduce reliance on outdated processes, leading to better efficiency, and access for employees and customers.

The most important of the three, however, is our consistent focus on our people. At the beginning of the pandemic, we quickly came up with our ‘three Cs’ approach to people: connecting, communicating and consistence, as a way to learn more about employees, their situations and potential challenges. Our team also transitioned seamlessly to remote work and we have leveraged both flexibility and technology to stay in touch and engaged each day. This has been integral in maintaining a high level of trust.

Q. What does the future hold for FCT and its employees?

Right now, our focus is on providing a consistent level of service and supporting the health and safety of our customers, partners and employees. As we move forward, we will continue to emphasize the importance of communication to ensure that they all have the right tools and training to support their needs.

We will also continue to focus on innovation. This will help our team remain flexible and adaptable as we look for new ways to leverage technology and keep our team engaged and excited about the future.

Lastly, we will continue to explore ways for the team to give back to our community. This has always been an important way for them to bond and work together towards a common goal.

“As breakthroughs in technology and data continue to shape the industry, our goal is to be at the forefront of what’s possible and to continue to build new technology that will allow us to process claims more efficiently.”