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A team effort


When people ask me how I felt when I won the Female Executive of the Year Award at the Women in Wealth Management Conference, I always tell them I was stunned. Not that I wasn't worthy of winning, but I had been in the conference all day and experienced first hand the calibre and quality of the women in attendance, some who were my competition. So I was proud to win the award and take the trophy home but let's be honest, it wouldn't have been possible without the people who work with me everyday and the environment and culture that we've built together at MD.

A collaborative culture to best serve clients

Culture to me is the way that people interact in a shared belief system. It's the values that an organization holds collectively, how people relate to each other, get their work done and build their relationships—culture is the platform that all this sits on.

When I started at MD nearly 10 years ago, I spoke with Brian Peters, our CEO, about tearing down the walls between different products and business areas so people can collaborate in teams to best serve our clients because after all, we are a service business.

We started at the top with the leadership team to really emphasize the new culture and strategy that was coming into play, and while we did have to make some changes, we managed to get our team onboard.

That's the thing with people, they want to do their best. Most don't wake up in the morning thinking 'I'll do a crappy job today.' Most professionals are very focused on doing a good job, so if you give them the right tools and get out of their way, they'll do it. We must be doing something right because I'm proud to say we won the 2017 Canadian HR Award for Best Workplace Culture!

A great employee experience = a great client experience

One of the reasons why I focused so much on building culture is that we have a very strong foundational belief that a great client experience can only be created once you've created a great employee experience.

If your employees are not having a good experience, then customers are going to see right through whatever you tell them. For example, we're working with early career physicians and they want to sit down with someone they can trust who can give them guidance on a myriad of decisions, help them gain financial literacy and teach them about investing. At this stage, they're nervous, even a little intimidated of investments so our role is to not only give them that guidance but to be empathetic to their needs and career stages.

That's why our teams are so flexible—to be available between the working hours of our clients and to be in tune with what our clients are experiencing in their lives. We believe in the concept of work life integration, not work life balance. Put simply, you are one human being, your work and personal life are both part of who you are.

That's why we very deliberately set up an open work environment. No one has an office, not even the CEO and we have a lot of flexibility in terms of where we work and the hours that we work so we're very much in line with what our clients experience in their lives.

Our culture is here to stay

Speaking of culture, one of the questions I've been asked since we were acquired by Scotiabank, was if anything was going to change at MD.

While I can't predict the future, I do know that MD's culture—the fundamental way we do things and our mandate to serve physician's best interests will remain. Scotiabank appreciates the culture, experience and in-depth knowledge that our highly skilled staff bring to the table—and so do we.

The sale to Scotiabank is about finding the best way to give our clients more of what they want and need, while maintaining the core MD values they rely on. Similarly, over time as MD partners with the larger Scotiabank organization, we will look for ways to further improve and thrive culturally.