Coffee break with Grant Dalrymple
Sep 1st, 2022 | By FCT
Grant Dalrymple, the head of Treasury and Payment Strategy has been building up the capabilities of FCT’s payment systems for eight years. Today, he sits with us to talk about his journey, what it was like to help deliver FCT’s self-serve online payment platform, and his approach to solving large-scale problems.
What is your day-to-day role like?
About a third of my time goes to daily finance and funding operations. Finance operations includes groups like Treasury, Customer Accounts, as well as sales system integrations. The Funding group supports the residential lender business and our legal professional services like EasyFundTM and SureFundTM. We move hundreds of millions of dollars every day for our customers.
I spend the rest of my time on strategic initiatives, improving our processes to anticipate and meet our customers’ needs as they develop new products. Our systems need to line up with their processes, no matter what they are, so FCT works to future-proof our system capabilities and improve automation. We constantly adapt to changing needs, while driving innovation in the industry.
How did you get started at FCT?
I started my career by working in IT at a boutique financial services company for high net-worth clients. One of the benefits of working for a smaller company is that you get many different learning opportunities. I became familiar with automation, system design, development and analytical reporting. It was a great way to figure out which areas of the industry I liked best.
My next position was at Mackenzie Investments, a much larger organization. I was more in the spotlight there, and had greater pressure to deliver on large-scale projects. That accountability was good for me and helped me to grow. Then, after a couple of years there, I encountered FCT while working on a project.
FCT had the best of both worlds—the agility and variety of a small organization, with the structure and accountability of a large company. It was 2006, FCT was growing aggressively and I wanted in. I still remember the energy when I first walked into the building. There’s a great drive here to innovate, to be a market leader, and to be a trusted partner to our customers. I like that we haven’t lost that.
What’s the best part of your job?
I like solving problems. Here at FCT, we’re involved in real estate transactions at nearly every level, so there’s always a variety of challenges to tackle. It’s a great feeling when you see how the solutions you build benefit people.
In my position, I get to work on large initiatives with a wide lens. That lets me see how all the dots connect, from the back end, all the way to the customer. How do we organize and present information to customers? How do we make the process simple and accessible, but keep data secure?
All of those pieces interact, and it’s so rewarding to find a solution that works with customer behaviour, the system we build, and everyone’s back-end processes. Some of these projects take years to plan and implement, but those are the most rewarding to see come together in the end.
What’s your proudest accomplishment at FCT?
I’ve been involved in a number of exciting projects over the years. The one that stands out to me as one I’m really proud of is FCT’s online self-serve invoice payment platform. We innovated a process that had been nearly unchanged since the start of FCT. What’s more, we accomplished that with minimal disruption to our customers—they were able to switch over without missing a beat.
We thought it was important to build the platform from the customers’ point of view. That meant thinking about processes, gathering feedback from customer to thoroughly understand how different customers might approach the platform, not building things out from our back end preferences.
FCT has a hugely diverse customer base, and our invoice payment system needs to reflect that. For instance, the person accessing our platform to pay for a title insurance policy may not be the same person who ordered the policy. It was a top priority for us to ensure that every customer who accesses our system gets the information they need, for their role in the deal.
What’s your problem-solving process?
The first step is really to understand the problem, and that takes active listening. Many people will know the problem and have insight into it that I don’t. You can’t build a solution that meets everyone’s needs without collaboration—it’s an essential part of the process.
Once I’ve gathered as many insights and points of view as I can, I look at them all to see where they overlap, and what opportunities there are for win-win outcomes. I also see what other problem solvers in the space are coming up with, what elements of their solutions inspire me, or where I see pitfalls. Then I ideate.
One danger of building out large-scale solutions to problems is getting bogged down in how the components all fit into the final product. You can end up stuck trying to anticipate and correct for every consequence in advance.
I believe in exploring each individual element of a solution and seeing how it impacts the whole, as early in the process as possible.
That way, you get to see the consequences and application of an idea with less investment and less overall risk. It’s a quality of an agile, forward-thinking company, and it’s an important part of our design process at FCT.
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