Jul 7 | 2017

3 Tips to Stay Healthy When it Gets Busy

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Tips to stay healthyWhether you’re a lawyer, lender, mortgage broker or realtor – working in the real estate industry can be unpredictable. Before you know it, things get hectic and you can slip into bad habits like skipping meals, not exercising and working on just a few hours of sleep. This will eventually take a toll on your health and even your mood. But when you’re busy, it’s even more important to maintain peak performance.

Here are three simple ways you can stay healthy and energetic all year round.

1. Make healthy food choices

Not that you can’t enjoy the occasional pizza party, but think of it this way, nutrition fuels your body and you’ll get the most out of premium gas. If you skip meals, you may end up making bad food choices out of hunger. Try to stash healthy snacks like fruits, nuts and pre-cut veggies at your desk. This way you won’t need to rely on candy bars and fast food to get you through the day.

2. Keep active

You may be sitting hunched over a desk all day or behind the wheel of a car – going to client meetings or rushing from one property to another. Take some time in the day for a quick stretch break or better yet, start a fitness challenge with co-workers. Getting other people on board is a great way to ensure you all stay moving and motivated.

3. Set expectations and priorities

At the end of the day, you’re only human. Make sure your clients and co-workers have reasonable expectations of you. Create a list of priorities for the day to help you get organized and let people know when they can expect deliverables.

Do you have any other tips to get through busy periods? Share it with us in the comments section!

Jun 21 | 2017

What’s Happening in FinTech?

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Top FinTech LearningsThe spring season brings a lot of activity to the financial services space in Canada. It’s one of the busiest times of the year for typical “money out” campaigns from our banks and coincides with strong activity in listings, transactions, and ultimately closings.

More recently the spring season has also come to signal the start of FinTech conference season across Canada. The size and scale of these events continue to grow while our own homegrown talent is taking center stage. With over 250+ FinTech companies across Canada and $1BN in cumulative venture capital investments, Canada is well on its way to solidifying itself as a global center for financial innovation.

As Head of Product at FCT, one of my primary responsibilities is understanding how the needs of our lenders are going to be changing over the next 3-5 years. Internally, we’ve been aggressively transforming our own product portfolio and expanding our focus on hybrid solutions that leverage the best of our financial technology, business process outsourcing (BPO) capabilities, and insurance expertise. As I have been working through the process of how we align our own product roadmaps to these opportunities, I wanted to share more broadly what I’ve learned on the conference circuit throughout the year.

Developments in FinTech

Opening up financial services data:

  • The European Union is already well ahead of North America when it comes to FinTech penetration. In an unusual role reversal, we actually see governments across the globe leading the charge to create an environment that is conducive to FinTech growth and innovation.
  • Initiatives like the European Union PSD2 open banking API, where by 2018 all lenders will be required to open up transactional data (with user permission) to enable third parties to build new types of financial services is one important example. While Canada is definitely lagging in this area, there are several opportunities to target key data as a starting point and use that information to re-engineer how financial services are delivered to customers across all segments.

While cash flow will always be king, managing identity in the digital age is close behind:

  • Online identity is the next cycle of the internet and as we see more and more digital lending platforms that don’t require in-person interaction, there is more of a need for identity management applications that simplify and perfect authentication/verification, early detection of fraud, and are adaptable.
  • Contextual commerce is the next major area of growth in the financial service space. This area deals with making payments through internet connected devices that are not a smartphone or laptop but rather devices like Amazon Echo, Google Home, Oculus Rift, and even your connected car. Thinking through the connected car example, how would you know the driver of the car is the right driver to offer a service?

Homegrown products will find greater product-market fit than global imports:

  • Canadian built and managed FinTech solutions will have the advantage over more global or regional efforts that try to ‘Canadianize.’ Rethinking financial solutions from the ground up will provide another advantage. The underlying point here is a true need to take a product-driven approach to building new financial services as opposed to a clone strategy from other markets.
  • For example, at FCT we believe understanding your customer segmentation in FinTech is critical. Existing companies overly rely on safety, security, legacy as the bread and butter of their solutions. Those features are table stakes but do not do enough in isolation to capture the wallets of the millennial, and eventually Gen Z segments. Great user interface and user experience, smart use of data, and transparency are at the top of the decision matrix for these segments and are causing radical reinvestments in technology talent across existing companies of all sizes.

This is the year of blockchain….or maybe its Ethereum… but it’s time to see RESULTS

  • By now everyone has heard of blockchain and the power of the underlying technology in financial services, but the conversation is FINALLY shifting to the business opportunities and that will be the catalyst for blockchain-infused products to gain traction. Experiments like Project ‘Jasper’ which is a Bank of Canada + Big 5 proof of concept with blockchain to reduce reconciliation efforts in payments systems are examples of the results and value of using distributed public networks.

We strongly believe that we are less than 12 months way from seeing the first mainstream pilot for tools like smart contracts and we are even bigger believers in the truly disruptive nature of these technologies.

I’m incredibly interested in your opinions and welcome comments. If you are passionate about thinking differently in the financial services space, I’d love to chat and can be reached at rlambert (at) fct dot com or through LinkedIn.

Jun 16 | 2017

Title Insurance: What Every Homeowner Needs to Know

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Title Insurance: What every homeowner needs to knowYou combed through websites, apps, maybe even the papers and visited dozens of places until finally! You found the perfect house! Your biggest achievement, your biggest asset – how do you keep it safe? Or like in this case, how can you even make sure that it’s all yours?

Before you purchased your home, the property may have changed hands several times leaving room for mistakes like an incorrect survey, a non-existent permit or title-related issues. Even with a new build, somewhere along the way there may have been an error that could affect your ability to sell, mortgage, or lease your property in the future. These are the types of things that a title insurance policy can protect you against.

What exactly is title insurance?

Title insurance is a unique form of insurance. Unlike home insurance where you are insuring the structure and contents, title insurance protects you, the homeowner, against losses related to the title (ownership) and other defects relating to your property. Plus, it may cover fixing issues or legally defending your ownership, which can be very costly and stressful.

Do you automatically get a title insurance policy when you purchase property?

It’s a common misconception that homeowners automatically get a residential title insurance policy when buying property. While a lender policy is required on every purchase, a homeowner policy is not. It’s up to you to make sure that you have the protection available to you through title insurance.

Does the lender or loan policy cover you?

No, a lender aka loan policy covers lenders only  and protects their interests when it comes to priority and enforceability of your mortgage, title and survey defects, municipal issues and title fraud.

What does a homeowner title insurance policy cover?

A typical title insurance policy covers common issues that may have happened both before and after you’ve purchased your home. This is sometimes referred to as pre- and post-policy because the day you take ownership of your home is generally also the effective date of the policy.

The main areas of coverage in the Homeowner Policy are:

  • Fraud — a person fraudulently transfers your property without your knowledge or consent.
  • Forgery — someone forges your signature on a registered document, which allows them to sell or mortgage your property.
  • Encroachments — if a structure built by a previous owner sits outside the property’s boundaries or if a neighbour builds a structure that is partially on your property after you purchase your policy.
  • Lack of building permits — if a previous owner completed work to your property without the required building permits, you could be forced by your municipality to remove or fix the structure.
  • Duty to defend — if you have to protect and restore your title as a result of a covered title risk, FCT will pay for the legal fees and costs associated with it.

How much does a policy cost?

  • For a low one-time premium, you can ensure that you have the protection you need for as long as you own your home. Your lawyer can provide you with a quote within minutes.

Don’t put yourself at risk. For a free quote, visit fct.ca today!

This is provided as general information only. For further details regarding coverage, please review your policy.

 

May 10 | 2017

How to Respond to the Transitioning Real Estate Industry

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How to respond to the real estate industryDeath and taxes, according to Benjamin Franklin, were the only certainties in this world. For all his wit and wisdom, he missed one obvious thing – change.

As pioneers of the title insurance industry in Canada, FCT constantly responds to change with its own innovation. This ability to adapt is even more important in the current real estate market. New regulations are in effect that are throwing the market into chaos. That’s what this blog post will address – how to respond to change and chaos.

For the past year, we have interacted with some of the most compelling personalities in Canadian financial services. We went deep with ‎Fisgard Capital’s Hali Strundlund-Noble, our former president, Pat Chetcuti, Dominion Lending Centres’ Jay Seabrook and Paradigm’s Kathy Gregory—original minds all— and we like to think we got gold. Most of all, we discovered some remarkable commonalities.

Reflecting upon the shared intuitions from our trailblazers, this is what we learned:

1) It is important to stay resilient and responsive to ensure we can deal with business threats.

2) Intuition plays a key role in decision making – where intuition relies on and emotions and expertise-based analysis of data.

3) The benefits of adopting a startup strategy – rapid response, great team chemistry and staff retention.

That’s not all. Researchers have confirmed “that the more unstable an organization’s environment is, executives reported the reliance on their intuition, and their organizations’ performance was better than the industry average when they did so.”

Takeaway? Chaos is good. Instability inspires creativity and entrepreneurial behaviour. And, recognizing a good decision right now is better than a perfect decision next week. This is good because odds are we’re going to see more chaos this year—not necessarily more than usual but almost certainly in new forms.

So: the Canadian mortgage industry has cracks all over it—our trailblazers shared this truth time and time again.

Why? There are deficits in client education, in process innovation, and in responding to regulatory change. There are gaps when reading the fog that lies ahead. Or when there’s technological disruption that drives big banks into agile best practices. In addition, there is more potential disruption with upcoming regulatory changes, FinTech, blockchain, peer-to-peer lending among a myriad of allegiances for financial service businesses to navigate.

What’s going on in the industry?

  • Increased CMHC mortgage loan insurance premiums
  • More rigorous stress tests for property buyers
  • Capital gains reporting changes
  • Portfolio insurance changes
  • Tax on foreign buyers
  • Expanding rent control, and more

 

How will this play out? 

From broker to lender, people begin to worry. But as it turns out, worrying is actually good for us.

This year, the mortgage marketplace will reward not just those capable of seeing beyond the numbers to the stories beneath and then pivoting, but also to those who can use the anxiety.  And we all experience anxiety when change hits us right between the eyes.

Here’s the paradox.

It’s not the worrying that freezes us. It’s our inability to get past the moment the worry does freeze us. This is the moment when powerlessness wins and we’re no longer open. What freezes us is not surrendering to the anxiety—the paradox is that worry is actually doing something.

In fact, research shows that worry motivates us and makes us better planners. A crew of enterprising researchers looked at rumination and discovered that people who sat with their anxiety tended to have far higher verbal intelligence than those who don’t.

The ability to apply that intelligence is quite likely the recipe for success. And here’s how you can do that:

  • Use worry as a mindfulness tool: Worry is often based on expecting something to happen in the future. The cues of feeling the physical tension of worry or noticing that you’re spiraling into despair can bring you into the present. When worry surfaces, allow yourself a set time to stew in it, and then start a distracting activity.
  • Plan ahead: Essentially, worry helps to prepare us. Once we decide on the different actions we can take in various scenarios, the need to worry is eliminated. When you worry about a particular situation, balancing the negative with a positive action plan will help you set your fears aside.
  • Create a support system: Fear and worry can leave you feeling isolated. However, when we feel a sense of connection and support, our fears can be calmed. Based on the plan you create, build a support team to help you action your plan or just to share the worrisome moment with you and hold you accountable.

 

How are you responding to the changing real estate industry? Share it with us in the comments!

May 3 | 2017

Who will be FCT’s Next Scholarship Recipient?

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ScholarshipScholarship applications are now being accepted.

Our Honourable William G. Davis Scholarship is now open for 2017 submissions. The program awards five $1,000 scholarships to students who have been accepted to or are currently enrolled at a post-secondary institution in Canada.

It is named after The Honourable William G. Davis, the 18th Premier of Ontario, whose passion for education contributed to his work in building Ontario’s community college system. Recipients of the scholarship are remarkable young people who aim to make a difference in the lives of others.

For instance, one of the 2016 William G. Davis Scholarship recipients, Bernice Ho is ready to make an impact through her education. She is currently enrolled at Queen’s University where she is studying to be a pediatrician. Bernice pursued her passion to work with children since high school by volunteering for the YMCA, tutoring elementary students, and working with the Markham Stouffville hospital to draw and colour with young patients. She is also the co-founder of the Sick Kids Foundations Club.

What really pushed her to follow her dream of being a pediatrician was a course that changed her world view.  “How I saw the world was profoundly changed by my Social Determinants of Health course because I learned that an individual’s socioeconomic status could impact their access to healthcare,” Bernice explains. “Therefore, my love for children and my passion to abolish such “guidelines” in healthcare policies encouraged me to become a pediatrician working alongside health promotion to implement affordable and available healthcare, so that each child, no matter their adversities, can get an equal start to life.”

We are proud to support Bernice in her academic journey and look forward to awarding scholarships to more deserving students this year.

Scholarship applications will be accepted till June 30, 2017. For details on how to apply, visit our website.

Best of luck to all the applicants!

Apr 27 | 2017

FCT is Recognized as a Great Place to Work Again!

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Great Place to WorkWe are pleased to announce that the Great Place to Work® Institute has named FCT one of the “Top 50 Best Workplaces” in Canada for the third consecutive year. FCT now ranks 21 out of 50 Large and Multinational companies, moving up 7 spots since last year. We have also been named one of the “Top 50 Best Workplaces for Women” in Canada for the second year in a row.

To earn a spot amongst the hundreds of companies vying to get on the list, applicant companies must participate in an employee survey and respond to an in-depth questionnaire about their programs and company practices. The only way to get on the list is if your employees put you there!

“At FCT we strive to create an environment that makes people feel engaged, appreciated and motivated to succeed. The fact that we’ve made this list for three years in a row, and we’ve now been named a Best Workplace for Women for the second year in a row, indicates our people feel we are delivering on our commitment to them,” says Sharon Wingfelder, Vice President of Human Resources/Corporate Affairs at FCT.

We are invested in our employees and their development. We empower them to deliver their best each and every day through programs that allow them to surprise, thank or make it right with our customers as they see fit. Our internal learning and development initiatives provide employees with access to hundreds of courses to improve their skills and set them up for success. We also offer competitive benefits and recognition programs, along with an annual volunteer day to encourage employees to get involved in the communities in which they live and work. Through the FCT Charitable Foundation, employees are able to make a difference by donating time and money to charities across Canada.

This is the 12th year that the Great Place to Work® Institute has announced its Best Workplaces list in Canada. Great Place to Work® is the global authority on high-trust, high-performance workplace cultures. They are a research and consulting firm whose mission is to build a better society by helping companies transform their workplaces.

We are so proud to be among the top 25 on the list this year and will continue to work towards making FCT a Great Place to Work in 2018!

Apr 24 | 2017

Celebrate National Volunteer Week with FCT!

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National Volunteer WeekOur employees contribute their passion, time and money to dozens of local charities, food banks, youth and women’s organizations every year. This year, we’re stepping things up and celebrating National Volunteer Week (NVW) with our employees and with you! Share your commitment to volunteering with us by posting your stories and photos on social media. We will be doing the same all week!

At FCT, we’re invested in the communities where we live and work, and support organizations that are focused on alleviating poverty and homelessness. We are actively involved in fundraising and volunteer activities within our local communities—supporting organizations like Habitat for Humanity Canada, Red Cross Disaster Relief and Food For Life.

Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to see how our volunteers are helping out in the community!

What is National Volunteer Week?

National Volunteer Week is a North American initiative that has been running in Canada since 1943. NVW promotes and appreciates volunteerism in the community.

 How is FCT Celebrating National Volunteer Week?

Our FCT National Volunteer Team is running an employee fundraising event to help support our chosen charities across Canada and provide volunteer opportunities with organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, Halton Women’s Place and Food4Kids for employees throughout the week.

Volunteering in the Community

Last year, our employees volunteered 1,476 hours serving communities across Canada. One of the many memorable endeavors included participation in an initiative led by Home Suite Hope, a charity that helps low income single-parent families go from crisis to stability by breaking the cycle of poverty. They work with community partners like FCT to raise funds and purchase gifts, bringing joy to families in need. Teams of employees selected one family each and purchased gifts from the wish lists they provided. Among the 92 gifts purchased were new clothing, toys, and home supplies. It was a wonderful opportunity to help those in need and give them a reason to celebrate.

Paul McLeish, who leads our volunteer team says, “Being actively involved and seeing first-hand the struggles that exists in our communities is an extremely emotional and humbling experience. As much as I try to donate to causes, I find nothing is more rewarding then lending a helping hand to someone in need.”

Giving through the FCT Charitable Foundation

In 2012, the FCT Charitable Foundation (FCTCF) was created to aid FCT in supporting local organizations. The FCTCF is an employee-driven, non-profit registered charity and our mission is to support charitable organizations that help alleviate poverty and homelessness. In addition to volunteering and community giving, the foundation also supports post-secondary education by awarding scholarships to students attending post-secondary institutions in Canada.

Jan 26 | 2017

Fraud is Alive and Well in B.C.

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Fraud in B.C.I am sure by now many of you have read the Fraud alert: Notices to the Profession published by the Law Society of B.C.  And for those of you who have not, click here for the link.

So as a legal professional, what can you do to protect yourself and your clients from the devastating effects of fraud?  In addition to the tips provided in the Law Society’s publication, as an expert in detecting and deterring fraudulent real estate transactions, FCT has compiled a list of best practices to assist in avoiding fraud:

1. Whether you are acting for a vendor or borrower, always insist that the balance of the proceeds are made payable to the registered owners after payment of secured creditors, taxes, legal fees, bank loans, credit cards, etc. and not to third parties. If the borrower or vendor owes money to a third party that does not appear to be related to this transaction, they can deposit the balance of the proceeds into their bank account and cut their own cheques. In most fraudulent transactions, funds are made payable to third parties, which allow the fraudsters to quickly negotiate the funds and disappear.

2. Be wary of very quick closings where you do not know or have never acted for your clients.  Most fraudsters go to solicitors/notaries who do not know them and hope to pull off the fraud quickly.

3. Question transactions being signed under Power of Attorney.  Why is the Power of Attorney being used and can you contact the Donor?  Review the Power of Attorney carefully.

4. Read your lender client’s mortgage instructions carefully and ensure you comply with their fraud requirements.

5. Get title insurance for both your lender and purchaser clients in order to protect them from the devastating effects of title fraud.

If you didn’t have the opportunity to attend one of our fraud seminars, you can still view it online and obtain CPD credits, by clicking here.

Have you come across any fraudulent transactions recently? Please share your stories with us.

Nov 29 | 2016

How Jay Seabrook Co-built the Financial Literacy Revolution in Canada

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financial literacyAs you may or may not know November is Financial Literacy Month (FLM) in Canada. FLM is led by the Financial Literacy Leader, Jane Rooney, and promotes the cooperation of organizations to improve the financial literacy of all Canadians at any age. For those of you that are unfamiliar with the term, financial literacy refers to the knowledge and skills that are required to make responsible personal financial decisions.

Why is Financial Literacy Month important?

FLM aims to teach Canadians about the importance of creating and following budgets and living within your means.  According to the
Government of Canada
less than half (46%) of Canadians currently have a budget, and 42% of 35-44 year olds are not keeping up with bills and financial obligations. Only 66% of Canadians are financially prepared for retirement and 52% of Canadians admit that they could not cover at least six months’ worth of living expenses if they lost their main source of income.

These alarming trends are being passed onto Canadian youth, and inspired Jay Seabrook, the focus of this month’s EXPERT/ease feature, to create a financial literacy program for high school students.

Jay and his long-term business partner Kevin Cochran built the EnRICHed Academy content to target the comprehension of high school students “so they could really understand how to build wealth in a fun and entertaining way.” EnRICHed Academy recognizes that everyone deserves financial awareness and is dedicated to financial education, a premise that won over the business brains on Dragon’s Den in Season 7.

To learn more about Jay’s path to success with EnRICHed Academy and Dominion Lending Centres read the November edition of EXPERT/ease.

Oct 31 | 2016

The FCT 25 Years $2,500 Giveaway Contest

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giveawayThe celebration continues…

Although our year-long 25th anniversary festivities are winding down, the party isn’t quite over yet. And trust me; FCT knows how to throw a party! In fact, we may have saved the best for last with the launch of our exciting new contest open to FCT customers across Canada (excluding Quebec)…

It’s incredible that 25 years have already passed since FCT pioneered the Canadian title insurance industry. So much has happened since — so much to be proud of and so much to commemorate. Because it wouldn’t be a proper celebration without those that have helped us achieve this important milestone, we’re giving you a chance to win one of five cash prizes of $2,500. It’s just another way for us to say “thank you”:  thank you for being there to support us over the last two and half decades with your honest feedback, partnership and support. As I said in an earlier blog Your voice. Our compass, we would not have been able to grow, evolve and succeed without you and we’re very grateful.

We invite you to enter The FCT 25 Years $2,500 Giveaway Contest by visiting FCTcelebrates25.ca. The contest ends November 9th.

I want to wish all those who enter good luck and would like to take this opportunity, once again, to thank you for being part of this amazing year-long event. It’s been so much fun celebrating with you!

We hope you will join us on our journey to our next milestone!