Business leaders can learn from political vacation scandal, experts say

By Brett Bundale

THE CANADIAN PRESS

The ongoing controversy involving politicians who ignored travel warnings over the holidays holds important lessons for Canadian business executives, according to experts in public relations and organizational strategy.

They say the situation provides valuable insight into effective C-Suite leadership and communication during a turbulent period.

A growing number of federal and provincial politicians have found themselves in hot water in recent days for travelling outside the country over the holidays even as Canadians were urged to avoid non-essential travel to curb the spread of COVID-19.

The backlash against politicians illustrates how easily hypocrisy, contradiction and privilege are exposed in an age of social media, said Bob Pickard, principal at Signal Leadership Communication.

Outdated  “spin-doctoring” is not only ineffective, he said, it can make leaders appear further out of touch, worsening the backlash.

“There’s a disconnect between how leaders are communicating and how people are feeling,” Pickard said.

“There’s a lot of pain out there and high anxiety, public emotion is on a knife’s edge … leaders need to anticipate the playing out of public emotions.”

The public relations expert said politicians and business leaders alike must “understand the zeitgeist” of the moment and how people feel and allow that to shape their actions and communications.

He said leaders should practise a sort of “radical candour” communication style.

“You’ve got to be transparent, you’ve got to be candid. You don’t need to sugar-coat it,” Pickard said. “Leaders have to be frank and honest if they want to earn the respect and buy-in of the public or their workforce.”

Lorn Sheehan, a professor of strategy at Dalhousie University’s Rowe School of Business, said it’s critical that the actions of leaders align with the policies and objectives of an organization.

“If you expect people to behave or act in a certain way, and then the leaders act or behave in a different way, it creates confusion and raises very legitimate questions,” he said. “The leader needs to set the example.”

While crafting a good strategic plan or policy is important for any organization, he said the actions of the leadership will determine its effectiveness.

“Increasingly, we’re realizing that for any organization to achieve its vision, it requires a strong culture,” he said, adding that the culture is often set “at the top.”

“It’s the effect that people in positions of power hold.”

Steve Pottle, director of risk management services at Thompson Rivers University, said the success of a strategic plan at any organization or company hinges on individual buy-in.

He said that’s achieved through strong leadership, an effective plan and consistent follow-through by senior management.

For example, if a company makes masks mandatory but the CEO fails to wear one, Pottle said it sends a message to employees that it’s not necessary to follow the rule.

Meanwhile, Pottle, also vice-chair of RIMS Canada Council, a standing committee of the Risk and Insurance Management Society, said it’s also important to consider a plan from a risk perspective, including what can throw a plan off course and what can help an organization achieve its goals faster.

 

No one wins if current rules for financial professionals’ titles remain as is

The excerpted article was written by  The Globe and Mail

Recent efforts from the Ontario government to ensure that only financial professionals with appropriate credentials be able to call themselves “financial planners” or “financial advisors” are being met with resistance from financial services industry associations lobbying to maintain the status quo. If this self-serving push is victorious, it will only benefit the least-qualified providers of financial services and be another setback for professionalization and transparency in the investment industry.

Currently, financial professionals’ titles in any province other than Quebec are borderline meaningless due to lack of standardization and qualifications. These titles do nothing to inform consumers of financial services as to what the financial professional they deal with actually does. Worse yet, these titles give the person providing the service a level of credibility that may be completely unearned and unwarranted.

The provincial government in Ontario – home to the largest population of financial professionals in the country – aimed to rectify all of that when it passed the Financial Professionals Title Protection Act, 2019. (The legislation received Royal Assent in May 2019.) Since then, the Ontario government has entrusted the province’s newest financial services regulator, the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario (FSRA), to oversee the implementation of the law. Public consultations on the draft regulations closed on Nov. 12.

The proposed regulations would limit the use of the title “financial planner” or “financial advisor” only to financial professionals who hold a qualifying credential. Ontario’s goal is to review the available credentials – such as the certified financial planner and the chartered investment manager – to determine which ones qualify for either title. This will be a substantial improvement from where things stand today, in which anyone can call themselves anything they want.

There are many positive submissions to the public consultations. For example, various investor groups and advocates have argued the proposed rules don’t go far enough because they don’t impose a fiduciary standard. Many have even provided constructive feedback on how the FSRA can make the most of this legislation.

In contrast, some industry associations’ submissions are nothing more than a self-interested preservation of the status quo. They say Ontario’s proposed rules set the bar too high because they would exclude some people who are using either title now from continuing to do so without achieving further designations or credentials.

For example, the proposed rules say that someone who has achieved a licence to sell life insurance products – and no further designations or training – would not qualify to use either the financial planner or financial advisor title. In response, the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association Inc. (CLHIA) and various insurance-centric organizations argue that the existing insurance sales training “meets or exceeds the baseline competency of someone who calls themselves a ‘financial advisor,’” and, as a result, no further qualifications should be required.

Similarly, the Investment Industry Association of Canada (IIAC) argued in its submission on the proposed rules that financial professionals who are regulated by either the Mutual Funds Dealers Association of Canada (MFDA) or the Investment Industry Regulatory Association of Canada (IIROC) should be exempt from any requirement to obtain further credentials or training before using the financial advisor title.

In both cases, the argument is that the existing qualifications are sufficient to merit the use of the financial advisor title and that requiring further training would pose an “undue regulatory burden” on financial professionals. The problem with this approach is that IIROC or MFDA licensing provides people the level of understanding required to sell a product. However, financial advice and financial planning are not focused narrowly on product sales. In fact, they may result in no product sales whatsoever.

Instead, financial planners or financial advisors synthesize information to make well-educated, informed recommendations. Product selection and sales are only a tiny fraction of financial planners’ or financial advisors’ process and are only made after information-gathering, analysis, and synthesis to ensure the right fit.

The FSRA has already singled out the course that qualifies someone to sell insurance in Ontario as falling short of the standard required for the financial planner title. The course leading to MFDA licensing similarly falls short of that standard. In fact, Jason Watt, a full-time instructor at the Business Career College, a financial services course provider that’s recognized nationally, says “the mutual fund licensing course represents a bar of proficiency no better, if not lower, than the standard set by the life insurance sales training course.”

If the submissions from the CHLIA, the IIAC and others pushing for the status quo are accepted, title reform in Ontario won’t amount to anything more than rubber-stamping the entire financial services industry as-is – turning this entire exercise into a perfect example of regulatory capture.

The winners of title regulation will be the least-educated and least-qualified members of the industry – and the companies that rely upon them for sales revenue. Everyone else – especially consumers of financial services, educated and credentialled financial planners and financial advisors, and the entire financial services industry in Ontario – will lose.

Millennials and members of Generation Z already distrust financial services institutions and are looking at digital alternatives like robo-advisors. Turning title reform into a farce is just one more reason for them to continue to shift away from traditional financial services providers altogether.

Intact Insurance is Offering Solutions for Customers who are Working from Home

Enhanced protections to give customers peace of mind during uncertain times

TORONTODec. 3, 2020, Many trends have emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic; people are travelling less, working from home and spending more time online. Intact Financial Corporation (TSX: IFC) is offering enhanced protection to give customers working from home increased liability and home coverage, the option to add identity theft coverage and cyber protection, at a discount, as well as free access to mental health and well-being programs for a limited time.

“During a time where so many are working from home, customers are searching for added value and thinking about their well-being,” said Louis Gagnon, President, Canadian Operations, Intact Financial Corporation. “We want customers to have peace of mind and we are focused on supporting their changing needs”.

Intact Insurance’s enhanced protection provides customers with increased liability and home coverage for people working from home. Existing and new customers can also add identity theft coverage and cyber protection to their home policy with my Identity at a discount, and for a limited time, enjoy free access to online mental health and well-being programs through LifeSpeak.

Intact also understands that with more people working from home, driving habits and patterns are changing. Usage-based insurance programs give customers more control over their auto insurance premium. Intact Insurance’s my Drive™ offers customers personalized feedback and tips to help improve their safe driving and the opportunity to earn up to 25% off their auto insurance premium. Customers receive a 10% discount just for signing up.

Customers who want to learn more about these solutions can contact their broker.

While these solutions address immediate and emerging customer needs, Intact is continuing to develop other innovative and responsive measures to longer-term trends.

About Intact Financial Corporation

Intact Financial Corporation (TSX: IFC) is the largest provider of property and casualty (P&C) insurance in Canada and a leading provider of specialty insurance in North America, with over CAD$11 billion in total annual premiums. The Company has approximately 16,000 employees who serve more than five million personal, business and public sector clients through offices in Canada and the U.S.

In Canada, Intact distributes insurance under the Intact Insurance brand through a wide network of brokers, including its wholly-owned subsidiary BrokerLink, and directly to consumers through belairdirect. Frank Cowan Company, a leading MGA, distributes public entity insurance programs including risk and claims management services in Canada.

In the U.S., Intact Insurance Specialty Solutions provides a range of specialty insurance products and services through independent agencies, regional and national brokers, and wholesalers and managing general agencies. Products are underwritten by the insurance company subsidiaries of Intact Insurance Group USA, LLC.

SOURCE Intact Financial Corporation

www.intactfc.com

Westland Insurance Celebrates 40th Anniversary by Supporting Canadian Charities

SURREY, British Columbia, Dec. 03, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Westland Insurance Group Ltd. (“Westland”) is pleased to announce that it is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2020. Westland is marking this significant milestone by supporting communities with its ‘40 Weeks of Giving’ campaign. Every week for the next 40 weeks, the company is supporting a cause in one of the many communities that it serves across Canada.

Westland Insurance was founded in 1980 with one branch in Ladner, BC. It now has over 150 locations in BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario. Throughout the years, the family-owned company has remained committed to supporting local communities. Launched in November 2020, the ‘40 Weeks of Giving’ campaign sees the company supporting a different community organization each week for 40 weeks.

The company’s first ‘40 Weeks of Giving’ donation was made to the Burns Bog Conservation Society. Burns Bog, located near Ladner, BC, is one of Canada’s most fragile and precious ecosystems. Westland’s second donation was made to the Calgary Region of the Canadian Mental Health Association, whose mission is to increase resiliency and reduce the impact of mental illness and addiction in the community. For more information about the charities that Westland is supporting with this campaign, please visit: https://www.westlandinsurance.ca/bc/about-us/community

About Westland Insurance Group

Westland Insurance Group is one of the largest and fastest-growing independent property and casualty insurance brokers in Canada. With a national network of over 150 locations and over 1,600 employees, the company continues to expand coast to coast. Westland’s brokers provide expert advice to home, business, farm, life, and auto insurance clients. Since its founding in 1980, Westland has remained a family-owned company that is committed to supporting its local communities. For more information, please visit www.westlandinsurance.ca

www.westlandinsurance.ca

 

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