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!

Jun 23 | 2016

Your voice. Our compass.

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16-202 Social Bank_smallHow 25 years of customer input has driven our growth and success

We’ve been very busy here at FCT as of late. After all, it is our 25th anniversary in Canada and there is so much to celebrate, right across the country. I invite you to use the hashtag #FCTcelebrates25 to participate in the fun on social media or to find out more about upcoming festivities.

Although we are beyond proud of this milestone, I’m not alone in recognizing that we didn’t get this far on our own. Without the support of our customers and their direct, honest feedback, we would not have been able to grow and evolve as we have — nor would we have been able to achieve the level of success we’ve enjoyed for over two and a half decades now.

But that’s not to say that the road to success has always been completely smooth. I can assure you there have been plenty of bumps along the way, and that’s okay. I firmly believe that there can be an even greater opportunity to learn from mistakes and challenges than solely from triumphs.

“Failure is only a temporary change in direction to set you straight for your next success.”
Denis Waitley

Because we realize how important a role our customers play in directing our products and services (and ultimately their own satisfaction), several years ago we decided to create a new position specifically to listen to the collective voice of our customers — a position quite different from anything else we were seeing in the industry at that time: Chief Customer Officer.

Today, this demanding role is held by Colleen Reitzel, who has a mandate to ensure customer input continues to facilitate change and innovation at FCT. It’s about listening to feedback surrounding customer experiences and understanding what customers expect from our products and services.

We want you to know that we’re listening whether it’s a compliment . . . or a challenge.

“The ear of the leader must ring with the voices of the people.”
Woodrow Wilson

So as we continue to celebrate this wonderful milestone, we want to drive home the idea that your voice has always mattered to every employee at FCT and always will, well beyond our next milestone, in fact. If you have ideas, questions or concerns, please reach out to me or Colleen Reitzel directly, or feel free to leave a comment below.

Aug 26 | 2015

Ask a title officer: volume 2

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Robyn_asktitleofficer

Robyn Downie has been with FCT for 3 years as a title officer

As a followup to our recent post: ; we offer you volume 2, which will examine additional questions asked of an FCT Title Officer via our online newsletter, Broker’s Edge. Here is the dialogue that took place between an FCT customer and FCT Title Officer of three years, Robyn Downie.

My client has a short maturity date on their existing mortgage. How does FCT’s process ensure that my deal closes on time?

Occasionally we do get a refinance/transfer deal through the Platinum program where the borrower’s current mortgage will mature before we can actually close the deal. This can result in unnecessary penalties to the borrower, but moreover, can put your entire deal at risk. And as you know, you don’t make money off deals that don’t close, despite all the work that goes into them.

The first thing we do is remind our broker partners to be well aware of maturity dates before they submit deals to the lenders. In the case of a known short maturity, it is always best practice to advise your client to renew their current mortgage into an open term so that there is ample time for you, the lender and FCT to process the new refinance/transfer.

Secondly, if FCT receives a file and it cannot be completed by the maturity date (i.e. the short maturity date was not made known up front), we will contact you and your client to ensure all parties are aware of the issue. By doing so, the customer will then be able to arrange for an open term with the existing lender.

But isn’t there a risk that my borrower may be lured back to their current lender when they apply for the open term?

Yes, there is always that risk. The bottom line is that your borrower’s current financial institution will use every available touch point, including when we request a payout statement, to make an attempt to retain the borrower’s business. However, there might be a greater risk that the deal won’t close without an open term.

If you need any more information about how to handle short maturity dates, call our Broker Hotline at 1.855.500.3565 and we’d be happy to help you work through any potential obstacles.

Still have questions?

If there is something you’d like to ask an FCT Title Officer please submit your question below. You never know; we might use it in a future edition of Broker’s Edge and/or feature it in an upcoming blog post.

And as always, check back again soon for more of the inside scoop or subscribe to the FCT blog today.

Services by First Canadian Title Company Limited

Aug 13 | 2015

Ask a title officer: volume 1

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You may or may not know that FCT has recently launched a free bi-monthly e-newsletter called Broker’s Edge. Broker’s Edge provides timely content and handy tips to help brokers process refinances more efficiently through FCT’s Platinum Refinance Program and its participating lenders.

title officer

Gillian Baker has been with FCT for 9 years as a title officer

“Ask a Title Officer,” is an interactive section on Broker’s Edge where you get to ask questions of an FCT employee and benefit from their first-hand knowledge of the industry. With the help of their insight, tips and tricks, we hope to help you create smoother closings. In case you haven’t seen it yet, here is the first question that our FCT Title Officer, Gillian Baker addressed:

I love how your Platinum refi program offers convenience and cost savings for my borrower. Is there anything special I need to do to in order to close my first Platinum deal with FCT?

First off, thank you for choosing FCT for your refinance deal! And yes, there are definitely a few, simple things you can do to assist in a smooth and timely closing:

  • State that you want to use FCT for closing in your notes to the lender
  • Take time to introduce your client to FCT and our process by using the lender-specific borrower letters. To access the letters:
    • Go to the Platinum section for brokers on FCT.ca
    • Click on your participating lender
    • Select Borrower Letter in the Platinum Refinance section
  • Submit all pertinent documentation to the lender together at once
  • Ensure that the Request for Payout Statement and Authorization form is correct and completed in full and all check boxes (discharge, transfer, etc.) found at the top of the RSA form are checked, as needed
  • Use milestones as opportunities to follow up with your client and keep them involved and informed of next steps. You will receive a milestone at the following stages:
    • Deal received/started by FCT
    • Payout Statement ordered
    • Payout Statement received
    • Signing appointment date set (date will be included)
    • Funding complete
  • Ensure your borrower understands the role of the signing agent and that any and all questions should always be managed by you, not the signing agent

I hope that helps! Remember, you can always call our Broker Hotline at 1.855.500.3565 if you would like additional information or help with closing your first deal with FCT.

Need help? Want to learn more? Just ask!

Do you have a question you’d like to ask an FCT Title Officer? If so, we’d love to hear from you. Submit your question below and we might use it in an upcoming edition of Broker’s Edge.

Services by First Canadian Title Company Limited

Jul 14 | 2015

Harnessing partnership to broker success

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Today the broker segment represents over brokers edge_small30% of the mortgage industry and wields great influence regarding the acceptance of title insurance within the lending realm. Harnessing that partnership between lending and title insurance is what will ultimately differentiate business models and earn loyal customers for both sides.

“In a world where technology has made everything instant and transparent, it is always easier to find a better deal elsewhere. But the bottom line isn’t what keeps customers nor does it build loyalty. What really separates the good from the great in the title insurance business (or any business, for that matter) is customer experience,” says Colleen Preisner, Director of Marketing at FCT.

Experience Excellence

Most know that failing to meet customer expectations can be the downfall for any business. Therefore, focusing on the customer experience as a whole is important to moving beyond merely meeting expectations to exceeding them. Partners need to keep themselves relevant and constantly provide value in an ever changing market. In fact, that is the basic premise behind FCT’s promise of Experience Excellence™.

FCT sees all of its customers as valued partners — partners who can offer insight and best practices critical to strategic development and innovation. And more importantly, to service excellence.

Get an edge on the competition

In fact, FCT is launching a new free bi-monthly e-newsletter to do just that. Broker’s Edge will offer timely insider information to help busy brokers outshine the competition in an increasingly crowded marketplace. The thinking behind this newest electronic resource is to continue to find different ways in which to improve communication and the quality of dialogue between Brokers, FCT and Broker lenders. As a two-way street, FCT seeks to build a better, stronger relationship with brokers, while assisting them to process their refinances more efficiently through its exclusive list of participating Platinum lenders. Broker’s Edge will serve as an interactive, user-friendly, central source for all things FCT. It will focus on helping brokers make the most of the FCT’s highest level of service for lenders: the Platinum Service Refinance Program.

Broker’s Edge will examine the following areas in relation to its Platinum program:

  1. Closing best practices from the experts in our operations centers across Canada
  2. Market and sales insights developed by our business intelligence team
  3. New process innovations based on Broker’s feedback and collaboration with our lender partners
  4. Handy resources for document processing, sales contacts and operational help

 

Experience Broker’s Edge for yourself. Click here to view the premiere edition!

Subscribe today and don’t miss out on this exciting new publication from FCT.

Feb 26 | 2015

Hasn’t the government fixed the land title fraud problem?

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hasnt-fixed-prob_smallDuring speaking engagements, I often raise the issue of title fraud. When I discuss the possibility that a fraudster could sell your home to an innocent third party and abscond with the proceeds, I usually get the following comment:

“I know this was a big problem a number of years ago but hasn’t it been cleared up?”

My response: “Yes, there were some legal changes made by governments, but title fraud and real estate fraud are still a real and present danger for any homeowner today.”

Here is the source of the confusion:

Previously under old Land Title Act laws, if a fraudster sold your house to an innocent third party the innocent third party got to keep your house.

Now under new Land Title Act laws, you get to keep your house, but you still have to prove that you were the victim of fraud and that you “didn’t do it!”

So don’t be lulled into thinking that the possibility of land title fraud no longer exists. That is what the fraudsters want you to think. In fact, there is no surefire prevention for title or mortgage fraud — as there is no surefire prevention strategy for any form of fraud. The reality is that we can take steps to reduce our risk and ensure we are protected from the negative legal and financial impacts of real estate fraud through insurance products like FCT’s Title Fraud Protection+.

Recovering your title is a legal process and generally costs between $10-15,000. Title insurance is a one-time premium with no deductibles  that stays in place for as long as you own your home. Title insurance premiums start at $350 and are based on the value of your home.

Make an informed decision about title insurance for your home as part of your long-term financial plan. Visit www.RetireYourHome.ca  for more information.

Feb 18 | 2015

Title insurance is protection you can build on

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In this age of competitive, seemingly non-stop, year-round construction projects, it is not uncommon for contractors and suppliers to go unpaid for their work. These individuals need a way to recoup their earnings and often turn to construction/mechanic liens for resolution. In Québec these liens are referred to as legal hypothec for construction.

Liens allow a contractor (or other professional) who has supplied labor or materials to a property they’ve worked on to make a claim against that property’s current owner(s) if not paid for their services, effectively forcing payment of the debt.

Unfortunately for unsuspecting homeowners, these claims can be crippling financially, not to mention the stress and hassle they cause.

“Lien” on title insurance

Most comprehensive title insurance policies can ensure homeowners are protected against construction/mechanics liens as well as many other serious issues. For a low, one-time fee that covers the insured(s) for as long as they own the home, homeowners can purchase a title insurance policy geared to their needs and based on their province of residence.

condo_smallOur coverage in the news

Consider the recent case of Mr. Perreault, a condo owner in Québec. Mr. Perreault describes the “hell” he experienced when he was affected by multiple legal hypothec claims from those those who built the walls, floors, and even did the digging for his new condo. He was at a complete loss as to what to do, overwhelmed by the scope of the problem and the looming financial impact. That is until FCT took over and laid the foundation for the support and resolution
he needed.

Feb 10 | 2015

Frozen in Winnipeg: When you just can’t “Let it go….“

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Like most new homebuyers, Tim and Brittany Gietz were excited when they purchased their first home in the cozy St. James neighbourhood of Winnipeg in August of 2013. At the same time, they purchased a homeowner’s title insurance policy from FCT.

“My dad is in the mortgage lending business, so I have heard a number of stories over the years about homes that had hidden problems. I wanted to make sure that I had the best protection for my investment, so we bought a homeowner’s title insurance policy,” says Mrs. Gietz.

frozenpipe_small3The first year in their home there were no surprises. However, after a particularly cold spell last winter, their pipes froze solid and their home was anything but “cozy.” The contractor called in to thaw the pipes promptly instructed them to contact the City of Winnipeg. While dealing with the pipe issue, the City provided them with a copy of a building permit dated in 2012 that outlined approval for an 84.5 square foot addition to the front of the existing dwelling. But the addition was never built, despite the permit. Why?

After further investigation, the Gietzes learned that the City had issued a bylaw violation, which required the previous homeowners to repair plumbing and electrical work, as well as an improper stair guard leading to the basement before the addition could be constructed. The floor joists and foundation also required major structural repairs. The City now demanded the Gietzes comply with the bylaw violation within 14 days otherwise face potential legal action.

The bylaw violation notice from the City triggered coverage from FCT because the homeowners were being forced by a governmental authority to remedy an existing structure because it was built without a required building permit.

FCT hired an engineer to complete the report on structural repairs to the floor joists and foundation. In the summer of 2014, work began on the home to fix the foundation, plumbing, electrical and structural issues. This work was paid for by FCT. During this major renovation, Tim and Brittany had to move out of their home for over three months while the work was being completed Thankfully, all temporary housing costs were also covered under their FCT policy.

Let go of the hassle and stress with help from FCT

Before the end of 2014, the Gietzes got word from the City of Winnipeg that the final inspection was completed and the bylaw violation was closed. They moved back in to celebrate Christmas 2014 in their safe and newly renovated home.

“For a couple of hundred dollars, paid once when we bought the home and no annual premium, we realized a significant benefit. Without the team at Castle Mortgage Group to inform us about the great insurance program that FCT has, we would have ended up with debt that we could not pay off for years. I cannot even imagine having to come up with the money to complete such a major renovation only months after purchasing the home. FCT fixed our home and provided us with a housing allowance while we were displaced. Since this has happened, I have now joined the team at Castle Mortgage Group and make sure to always recommend that our clients purchase this insurance.” – states Mrs. Gietz.

*FCT refers to the FCT group of companies. Insurance by FCT Insurance Company Ltd. Services by First Canadian Title Company Limited. The services company does not provide insurance products.

Jul 23 | 2014

Is it Philanthropic to promote your own Philanthropy?

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PhilanthropyThis year FCT and its employees have received some significant recognition and reached a number of milestones for our Corporate Philanthropy program. And while I am unbelievably proud of these achievements and want to shout them out to anyone who will listen, I am also struck by the apparent contradiction of being selfless in giving and at the same, tooting your own horn.

I put this issue to some of my colleagues who indicated to me that if we don’t toot our own horn, then no one will hear about it. And if they hear nothing about our corporate philanthropy efforts they won’t believe that we do anything. I also recognize that it is FCT’s Team of highly motivated employees who have contributed the lion’s share to this success, so it is for them that I am tooting this horn.

So in the spirit of sharing our activities and recognizing our employees’ greatness, I am absolutely delighted to tell you that:

  • This year marks the milestone of $300,000 in FCT/FCT Charitable Foundation donations to Habitat for  Humanity as well as the 150th Habitat for Humanity home we have title insured for free in Canada.
  •  It is also the 10th anniversary of FCT participating in the St Joseph Hospital Foundation Around the Bay race and we have raised $130,000 to date for research and treatment in Hamilton.
  • FCT received the Community Builder of the Year award from the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce’s Outstanding Business Achievement Awards in 2014.
  • FCT consistently places its teams in the Top 5 fundraisers for the Oakville Relay for Life in Support of Cancer Research- we were #1 and #3 this year!

And can you believe that there is still another half a year to go in 2014! Our employee-led FCT Charitable Foundation is very active and you can see all of the organizations that we support across the country by clicking on this link. https://fct.ca/about/corporate-social-responsibility.aspx

I am looking forward to more achievements in our corporate philanthropy program – but I am still struggling on the horn blowing.