Launching a Venture: Toronto’s Rob Morton, Former Home Capital, Home Trust Exec on What to Know

Robert Morton has seen and learned a lot from his time working as a financial officer. 

An accomplished leader in financial, strategic and general management, Toronto’s Rob Morton has more than two decades of experience in the space, having served as chief financial officer at Home Capital Group Inc. and Home Trust Company, and, before that, serving for more than ten years at State Street Corporation, an institutional investment services bank.

Speaking from experience and the knowledge he’s gained over the years, Rob shared his views on starting a new venture, the importance of building a strong workforce and why every company should embrace new technology.

In your opinion, what are the most common financial mistakes that entrepreneurs tend to make?

Rob Morton:
They go into building a business with the idea they will turn it around quickly and sell it to the highest bidder.  In theory, turning a significant profit sounds great on paper; however, it takes time to build a successful business, and so I think the entrepreneur needs to focus on creating a solid product and caring more about the customer rather than burning through their investment so quickly.  That, and they tend to hire in advance of revenue.  A good rule of thumb: it’s not revenue until it hits your bank account. 

How important is a value proposition for a new venture? Is it something that’s easily defined and leveraged?

Rob Morton: It’s very important, especially in a competitive marketplace. A new company needs to define what makes it different from other companies that offer similar services. That’s how you begin to gain a competitive edge. To get customers or clients to first select you, then eventually make you their first, then only choice, requires articulating the value you provide and why that value only exists within your company. It helps, as you say, to have a proven background and substantial knowledge backed by decades of experience and results, which is part of our brand, so to speak. But as a new venture, you still need to prove your worth and earn client confidence so they become repeat customers.

If someone is preparing to launch a new company, or attempting to continue early success, what do you recommend as things to keep in mind?

Rob Morton:
First of all, a talented and skilled workforce is the lifeline of any organization. You can interview people and find employees who have deep experience, strong skills and a great work ethic. Once they’re on board, you’ll want to empower them while also fostering a culture of teamwork, which is very important in any organization. And you’ll want to strive for employee satisfaction. In order to build an empowered team, companies should work towards a management cycle where ongoing support and improvement is considered important. Organizational effectiveness is key.

For new companies that may be operating in the financial services industry, what kinds of things would you suggest they do as best practices in today’s market?

Robert Morton:
Today, technology touches everything. More than that, it creates new opportunities and makes new things possible. We’ve gotten used to it. So the financial services sector, just like most other industries, in all likelihood will need to introduce and implement more technologies to improve the customer’s experience, including convenience and efficiency, as well as productivity.

Today’s entrepreneurs need to have a technology component as part of their companies’ operations?

Rob Morton:
I think without question. Technology-driven services I think are now the rule rather than the exception. Technologies like blockchain and fintech are transforming business and economic models. Data mining has also become significant, since it allows us to understand customer needs far more accurately than ever, and to respond to them. Financial services firms need to adapt to these new technologies, as do companies in other industries.

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