Coffee break with Brenna Charles
Aug 19th, 2021 | By FCT
To many successful national lenders in the mortgage broker channel, Brenna Charles is the face of FCT. A business development director for Residential Lending Solutions (RLS) and recently named CMP Rising Star, she assisted in developing FCT’s national lender strategy, and continues to drive sales, innovation and connection with Canada’s top lenders. Today Brenna sits down with us to talk mortgages, motherhood and the secret to her success.
What is your day-to-day role at FCT?
As a business development director, I work to connect FCT with our lender customers— often acting as the face of the organization with the client. This includes being out in market, pursuing clients, finding business opportunities, and then pairing client needs with FCT solutions. I aim to guide customers in seeing the value FCT can offer, and better learn their needs so we can tailor our products to them. I believe in empowering lenders to offer more products and services that better serve the broader consumer in Canada.
I enjoy the level of complexity in the mortgage industry that creates a need for more dynamic problem solving. So many elements come together to make the mortgage space in Canada interesting, and I love being a part of it. It certainly doesn’t make for boring days!
How did you get on your career path?
I started my Bachelor of commerce by majoring in information technology, and quickly realized I did not want to go into technology. Instead, I moved into financial services, where I was still able to still leverage my commerce background, but in a stream I was more passionate about.
Within financial services, I found mortgages to be one of the most interesting products as it mixes real estate with credit, covenants, property values and securitization, so I opted to pursue a career specifically within mortgages.
In RLS, lenders are our customers, and I was fortunate to have been able to work with two of them before joining FCT. The knowledge I gained there helps me today in serving those lenders and understanding their needs. I opted to come to FCT from a lender, as I wanted to be able to make a meaningful difference as a supplier, not a competitor.
When did you start at FCT?
Five years ago, in 2016. I joined FCT in a customer-facing role because I very much enjoy working with customers to highlight the value FCT can offer. I started in relationship management, but my comfort in asking clients to grow their partnership with FCT led me to progress into a business development role.
Early on, I encountered resistance to using our programs in the broker channel. In addition to working directly with brokers, I started working more with our lenders’ underwriting centers to understand why there was a barrier. What started from pulling the thread of “why are we not getting more business, and how can we get more business?” turned into a national strategy and I was promoted to support it. My role evolved into one that primarily focused on developing a strategy and growing our relationships with national lenders.
What’s the secret to your success?
The human element of a relationship brings accountability. When a customer recognizes a name and face that they can rely on, and you deliver, it provides a level of confidence that they can rely on you and your organization. But a relationship only goes so far as one’s ability to deliver on their commitments. I like to think I can deliver on our client’s expectations while being one of the faces of the FCT brand. When deepening interpersonal ties, it’s still important to pair the relationship with the actual delivery of service—never lose sight of that.
I’m a relationship-driven person and like making connections with people, and seeing how over time, relationships get stronger based on my performance and my delivery. It’s going below the waterline: if one thing is a challenge, let’s go beyond that. Why does that challenge exist in the first place?
Which accomplishment at FCT are you most proud of?
My proudest accomplishment is really what we’ve actually been able to grow and do with our customers. The feeling of launching a new program or seeing the success of a new customer adopting and leveraging our programs is the most satisfying part of what I’ve done at FCT. The results are what matter.
I was also fortunate to be among those named Canada’s Rising Stars in the mortgage industry.
To me, this award represents recognition of doing the right thing and being an advocate for our customers and FCT in the mortgage industry, an affirmation to keep going forward with the approach we are taking.
What are you most excited to work on?
My future is very much in the mortgage industry. I hope to work with more customers and put in the work to progress to a more senior role in the industry.
On a personal front, I’m expecting my first child and look forward to managing both my career and new personal chapter. I hope it will add to my skillset and further grow my relationships with customers—this industry is fortunate to have a lot of senior leadership roles filled by women who are mothers.
I had been concerned with the perception that motherhood takes away from somebody’s commitment to their role and to their workplace, that women leave the workplace when they have kids or no longer prioritize their roles. I hope to set an example of how to manage both, and follow the lead of others. Daniela De Tomasso, Jackie Chetcuti and Kate Wybrow are female leaders at FCT that I look up to, and who all have strong career accomplishments and are mothers themselves.
I look forward to following in their lead, and continuing to demonstrate how women can be strong contributors in the workplace, without sacrificing family. I’ve received such a strong response so far in support from both FCT and my customers.
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