Recognized as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2017)
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Nov 6, 2016)
Here are some of the reasons why Fidelity Canada was selected as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2017) and Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2016):
- Fidelity Canada supports employees who are new mothers and fathers, including adoptive parents, with maternity and parental leave top-up payments (to 100% of salary for up to 17 weeks) and offers the option to extend their leave into an unpaid leave of absence
- Fidelity Canada lets everyone share in the company's success with profit-sharing and offers a full suite of additional financial benefits, including signing bonuses for some, year-end bonuses for all and referral bonuses of up to $2,000
- Employees at Fidelity Canada can take advantage of a number of alternative work arrangements including flexible hours, telecommuting, a shortened work week option and reduced summer hours
Fidelity invests its talent in a meritocracy
At Fidelity Canada, one of the country's top investment companies, they like feedback. To begin with, staff are encouraged to offer their ideas for improving the organization through innovation programs that give prizes for the best. One employee, for example, built a database that funneled information from several business units into the cleanest, most simplified format. His idea not only enhanced the ease of access and accuracy of the data, but improved a critical process.
"Every year it always amazes me how many great ideas the employees have," says Rob Strickland, President of Fidelity Investments Canada ULC, the major component of Fidelity's presence in Canada. "The promise we make is that we will consider every idea that's submitted."
It's also a practice that every employee meets with his or her supervisor once a week to talk about anything they feel is relevant, including any challenges they face.
And if you're in the sales force or the leadership team, you get something called a scorecard. It shows targets and other kinds of progress, such as employee engagement, and gives you quarterly feedback on how you're doing - in green, meaning good, yellow or red.
"I'm a big believer that scorecards promote employee engagement and employee satisfaction, because the contribution they make becomes very, very visible," Strickland says. "It's something they take a great deal of pride in." And for anyone trending into yellow or red territory, the company takes a positive and supportive approach, focusing on what they need to succeed. Fidelity has a philosophy of continuous learning, which gives employees the opportunity to develop and advance.
All of these tools are part of Fidelity's relentless drive for excellence, says Strickland. "We challenge our employees to be number one in whatever aspect of the business they work in," he says. "And we have all sorts of external evidence to prove we are number one in the industry in all of our capabilities, from sales to systems to customer support."
Fidelity Canada's 800-plus employees are concentrated in Toronto, but there are also offices in Vancouver, Calgary and Montreal. Fidelity Investments Canada, with roughly $127 billion in assets under management, offers a broad range of mutual fund products to financial planners, investment dealers, banks and other institutions that deal directly with investors. There is also Fidelity (Canada) Asset Management ULC, which offers investment management expertise, and Fidelity Clearing Canada, which provides support services to brokerages.
The company recruits from the top universities in the country, looking for people with an interest in the investment field. "I've hired thousands of people and I've given up trying to figure out who will make a good sales person," says Strickland. Instead, the company moves people through various roles to see how they do. Some may ultimately prefer to work in product design, marketing or other areas, he notes.
Brock Dunlop, now Vice-President, Finance Business Unit Support, has been there. When he was hired in finance 16 years ago, "I did every job. Often, you move laterally before you move up."
Fidelity, he says, is "a wonderful meritocracy and a very compassionate company," He notes that it provides top-quality job training, benefits such as a generous share program, and work-life balance options that include flexible hours and work from home opportunities.
Dunlop says that although he is one of the rare people who left Fidelity, he quickly came back. "In a short time, you can sense a firm that doesn't have good engagement with its employees," he says. "What we have at Fidelity is very special."
At Fidelity, make sure you listen - and speak up
"I'm all EARS!" is a phrase that resonates at Fidelity Investments Canada ULC. That is because, for the past two years, it has been the slogan of a company-wide "listening campaign" that encourages employees to "Empathize, Ask, Recognize, Spotlight" - EARS!
"The campaign is intended to make sure all employees are listened to, whether it be managers listening to their reports or peer to peer," says Nancy Lupi, Vice President, Human Resources. "It is in support of an open, transparent, honest culture - one that is collaborative, respectful and focused on continuous improvement."
Fidelity Canada is part of the Fidelity Investments organization of Boston, one of the world's largest financial services providers. In Canada, Fidelity manages some $110 billion in mutual fund and institutional assets. In the GTA, it employs 680 people. In addition to salespeople with financial aptitude, Fidelity's most numerous hires are customer service representatives and product specialists.
The EARS campaign is just one of the Fidelity initiatives to promote an open and respectful workplace. The company has been providing Emotional Intelligence training to employees at all levels. "It means being aware of the impact of your own behaviour on other people," says Lupi. "I am impressed by the number of employees who entered the Emotional Intelligence workshops with trepidation and emerged thankful they had the training."
Fidelity also champions diversity and inclusion. Each year, it presents an online training video with different workplace scenarios. Staff are asked to interactively indicate which behaviours are discriminatory. "Even long-serving employees are reminded that if a certain situation happens, they should speak up." says Lupi.
The company supports diversity, too, through its Employee Resource Groups. These are voluntary groups of employees who have a common ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, or who have similar experiences. Currently, there are four groups - for women, Asians, blacks and Latinos, and PRIDE minorities. Each group is sponsored by at least one senior Fidelity executive.
Lindsay Zubek, Manager, Regional Sales, has belonged to both the women's and PRIDE groups since they launched in Canada three and a half years ago. "Being a co-chair of the Women's Networking Group has been one of the most rewarding parts of my career," she says. "It has allowed me to interact with senior leaders, both inside and outside Fidelity."
The groups collectively have more than 200 members, many of them belonging to more than one group. Their impact is felt across the firm, as they draw employees from different departments who might not otherwise meet. Their events are open to non-members, too. "In the women's group, we try to involve both men and women at our events," says Zubek.
Employee benefits are an important feature at Fidelity. Its profit-sharing plan rewards selected employees annually, based on their performance as well as Fidelity's. Especially popular is the defined contribution pension plan, through employer contributions to a group RSP.
No matching contributions are required of employees. The employer's contribution rises to 15 per cent of base salary and annual bonus after four years. "This benefit sets Fidelity apart," says Zubek. "Whenever someone hits that four-year milestone, it is something we get really excited about."
Employees also look forward to their annual paid day to volunteer for a cause. For the past two years, Zubek and her 20-member regional sales team used their days to help at the Daily Bread Food Bank. Previously, they mentored a class of Grade 8 students, in keeping with Fidelity Canada's national partnership with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada.
Recognized as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People (2016)
By Kristina Leung and Richard Yerema, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Jan 10, 2016)
Here are some of the reasons why Fidelity Canada was selected as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People (2016):
- Fidelity Canada recently launched a new 4-month student recruitment program that includes skills development sessions, information sessions conducted by senior executives, a Q&A session with the President and senior executive team, opportunities to volunteer in the community with organizations that Fidelity supports, opportunities to job-shadow in up to three different departments and participation in social events and sports activities
- Fidelity Canada introduced a rotation program for existing high performing co-op students to return in a different position -- and also offers $1,500 moving allowance to enable students to work in regional offices on assignment
Fidelity's recipe: hire young, add skills, promote
Chris Roe's office phone rings up to 25 times a day. When the stock markets fluctuate or there are new interesting products, it is likely to be financial advisors calling him for advice on what to tell their clients - investors in Fidelity mutual funds. Roe, a District Sales Associate at Fidelity Investment Canada ULC, has the resources and skills to provide context and reassurance.
"Fidelity puts a vast amount of research at our fingertips with perspectives and commentary from our investment professionals around the world," he says. "We can provide perspective on what is happening in the market. The most important thing is to let the advisors know that they're not alone in this. We can help them. We can walk them through it. We can give them viewpoints to take back to their clients and answer their questions and, if necessary, ease their concerns as well."
Roe, 30, joined the Fidelity Canada sales team in March 2014. He already had a number of friends in Fidelity sales and had met others at investment industry events. "It was always my aspiration to work for the company, because it had a great reputation. So once the opportunity came up, I went through the interview process and within two weeks, I was on board."
Fully 25 per cent of Fidelity Canada's employees are under age 30, and he proportion is likely to rise. "We are in the midst of a hiring blitz," says Nancy Lupi, Vice President, Human Resources, "and many of the positions are junior ones that will be filled by younger people. We have openings for business development associates, processing roles and customer service representatives."
In the last decade, Fidelity Canada has shifted its hiring approach. Instead of recruiting experienced staff from other firms, the preference for experience has changed. It now prefers less experienced candidates joining at entry level, developing them in house and readies them for more senior posts.
It is possible, for example, to rise from a summer student to a District Vice- President of Sales in three years.
"Today, we have a really strong talent pipeline as a result," says Lupi. "In addition, we have more engaged employees, because they have had these opportunities not just to be promoted but to learn along the way."
Professional development is a priority at Fidelity. Roe, for example, recently took the Wholesaler Development Program, a four-week course for sales associates who are close to becoming wholesalers (i.e., the senior members of the sales teams; they go on the road and meet face to face with advisors).
The program, which was offered to a select group of sales associates from across Canada, covered presentation skills, territory management, investment sophistication, sales techniques and team management. "This was an opportunity to meet with senior executives and experienced wholesalers," says Roe. "The program gives you the tools and expertise so that you are ready for the day you become a wholesaler."
In addition to providing in-house training, Fidelity reimburses tuition costs for relevant courses taken at outside institutions. The company will pay not only for maintaining certain professional designations, such as the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), but even pays for preparatory courses for acquiring those designations. It goes one step further in offering bonuses for successful completion of the designations as well.
Fidelity also runs a secondment program that is popular among young employees. Staff can apply to fill other positions that have temporarily come open due to sick leave or maternity leave.
"It allows the employee to try something different for a meaningful period of time," says Lupi. "They then return to their existing role with a new set of skills. The program
is evolving into a job swapping initiative, where two employees at the equivalent level can try each other's role for a set period."