Ana is the Regional Sales Manager for all of Ontario and Atlantic, overseeing First National’s largest team of Account Managers. She shares how she’s supporting her team, how they are mobilizing for brokers and why perseverance is the most important aspect of relevance right now.
How have you been supporting your teams, both professionally and emotionally?
AI: We have always had a team conference call on Mondays at 10am. It has become even more important since we all started working from home during Covid. Once a week, the Account Managers and Admins get together to understand what everyone is going through, the types of calls people are getting, and how they are handling calls. We also share ideas and suggestions about things that are working. I want to make sure that everyone is ok and is updated on what First National is doing as the industry changes. On Tuesdays, I participate in a management call. As soon as I am off that call, I send an email to the team summarizing what we discussed and questions that came up, so they can relay any pertinent information to brokers.
How has your team mobilized to support brokers?
AI: We are in constant contact with our brokers, either with email updates, phone calls or videoconferences, depending on their preferences. Obviously, nobody is out on the road right now. So we have more time to reach out and really talk. Right now, being human and sensitive are the most important things. The isolation and business changes are affecting everyone differently.
What strategies are you putting in place to manage the situation going forward?
AI: We are emphasizing staying informed and communicating with each other and with brokers. When everything changed at the beginning, there were a lot of questions, which we’ve addressed. Things are certainly fluid and could change again, and we’ll be ready for that. I’m stressing to my team to return to the normal activities that you can do virtually. For example, if you had coffee with a broker every two weeks, keep doing it. If you had a team meeting or visited an office regularly, do it online. That regular contact is so important for all of us because it provides some structure and sense of normalcy.
What is the most important aspect of relevance for brokers to focus on right now, and how is your team helping brokers be relevant in that way?
AI: Positivity is always important. And because the situation is fluid, being pliable and able to adapt are also critical. I also believe that it’s essential for brokers to embrace the spirit of perseverance. Educating clients, providing up-to-date information and reassuring them that they are not alone helps to relieve a lot of stress. Working together, we will get through this. We want brokers to feel confident that we will look after their clients. If we say we are doing something, we are doing it. We always follow through on what we promise.
Any final thoughts?
AI: This situation has tested everyone. We’ve had to be patient and figure how to function in a completely different way. It’s amazing how everyone, brokers and clients included, just wants to make things better. All of the Account Managers on my team are stepping up to the plate. They are there for our brokers and are being incredibly supportive of the underwriters. As a team and a company, we are more united than we have ever been. It’s a testament to our leadership. Jason and Scott have been so open and communicative, and the brokers really appreciate it. I believe that we will come out of this stronger. And I can say that confidently. I have been at First National for 20 years, and the company has never let me down.