Richelle Morgan: Building a team culture that values collaboration and trust

First National Financial LP Mar 26, 2024   mins

Richelle Morgan shares why she’s most proud of the relationships she’s built with brokers and why working hard and having fun is the secret to success.

Take us back to the beginning of your career at First National.

RM: I joined First National in 2014, after 24 years at RBC in various management roles. I started with Manitoba and took over Saskatchewan in 2020. 
What was your first year like?

RM: After spending 24 years with one organization, it took me approximately six months to retrain my brain and get used to how First National did things. The bank did things quite differently in terms of policy and underwriting. 

What was your “I’m in” moment?

RM: After that initial six months, I knew I was in. My boss, Lisa Bartlett, is amazing. We had a great crew then and we still do. Doug Farmer, the director of the underwriting team, told me I earned my stripes when I  presented at a national sales conference.   

Describe some milestones in your career.

RM: In my second year, one of my brokers nominated me for BDM of the year. I went to Toronto with my husband to attend that amazing awards night. It was extra special for me because I did not have a prior relationship with the broker who nominated me. We hit it off right away, and I supported her business significantly. Being nominated by her showed me how much she appreciated my efforts. 

What stamp have you put on the business?

RM: My relationships. For example, with one broker office, we do a lot of fun, interactive activities like scavenger hunts and Christmas parties. There are 30 brokers that work in that office, and we get everyone together. With this particular broker office, I also spend one day on site to be accessible in person to the brokers.

What are you most proud of in your career?

RM: The relationships I’ve built with brokers. I am very close with a lot of my brokers. And I’ve ramped up business with brokers as well. With new brokers, I try to get them to choose us for five or six deals. They get to know their AMU  and underwriter and establish rapport. Those successful five or six deals most often translate to more business on a regular basis. 

Any favourite memories?

RM: Our national sales conferences are second to none. Scottsdale stands out to me. The desert jeep rides were phenomenal. We also did a scavenger hunt with one of our broker offices in 2018, and it was so popular, we did again in spring 2023. 

Which one of First National’s values resonates with you most and why?

RM: We strive for better. In the Prairies, we have always focused on building a highly effective team. We are fortunate that all of our underwriters, team managers and AMUs are very close. We collaborate a lot and share constantly across the entire Prairies team. We earn trust also resonates with me. Visiting brokers in their offices, and the collaboration between underwriters and brokers builds mutual trust. 

As a woman, what’s it like to work at First National and what inspires you?

RM: We have so many inspiring women on our team and in leadership roles in the organization. My whole team of account managers are all women. We have such a trusting, strong bond. There isn’t any intimidation. It’s just the opposite. Everyone collaborates and shares. Lisa is a fantastic leader. She knows when to nudge you and when to leave you alone to get your stuff done. She trusts her people and allows us to be autonomous. 

From your experience, how does the First National culture value diversity and elevate the voices and perspectives of all team members?

RM: We’re a very diverse group. You really see it when you go to the sales conference. Diversity is part of our hiring practice and culture. We promote it and practice it. It’s something we’re proud of. 

What advice would you share with people growing their careers at First National?

RM: Stay relevant and be on top of new trends. It’s important to consistently educate brokers. Invest the time to get to know your brokers. Take care of those relationships in both good times and difficult times. By building up those emotional credits, you will be able to weather the bad times because brokers will trust you and know you can deliver. 

Any final thoughts?

RM: Work hard but have fun doing it. It’s why I’ve enjoyed my 10 years here so much. It’s also why brokers love us and gravitate to us. We go that extra mile to add an element of fun to our relationships.

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