As the Chief Sales and Marketing Officer at Moneris, Jeff is responsible for sales, marketing, communications, pricing, and bank partner relationships. With an extensive career in the payments industry, from RBC to the starting days of Moneris, he has experienced first hand the exceptional growth of technology and payments, and witnessed its effects in day-to-day life.
We sat down with Jeff to learn more about his career in payments, how he keeps up to date with technology, and how he manages to run ultra-marathons – all while managing two large departments at Moneris.
You have spent a great deal of your career in the world of finance and payments, from RBC to Moneris. What about this industry has kept you committed to it since your early roles at RBC?
For me, it is the fascination with enabling consumers to pay, and merchants to be paid. Because of this, the payments industry is often at the forefront of new development and innovation. Amazon, Uber, and Airbnb would not exist if it were not for the ease in which money can move hands between all the various participants in the transaction.
Moneris helps to make Canadian’s lives better by removing the friction associated with paying for the goods and services they consume. Just think about how contactless payments have changed the way Canadians pay for everyday purchases, and the time it has saved consumers and merchants by not fussing with getting or giving the right change. Today, most Canadians have only a faint memory of a time when cash and cheques dominated day-to-day purchases.
I think it’s cool to be part of an industry that will likely drive the end of physical currency within the next 10-15 years. Physical currency has been with us since the introduction of the first Roman coins, and will be nothing but a quaint novelty to future generations in large part because of our efforts in the payment industry.
You’re well known to be a very active person, and you’ve talked in detail about the similarities with running and business. But something that we don’t talk about as much is how you’re able to make the time to train for ultra-marathons while still having such an important role here at Moneris. How do you manage a reasonable work-life balance with such serious commitments to your career and personal life?
I am blessed to have more control over my work-life balance than many people, and it certainly helps to have grown children and a supportive partner. In addition, without a doubt today’s technology makes it easier to work from anywhere, at any time, and to become very efficient at time management. Having said this, I think the key to having balance in your life is learning to say no, without guilt or fear of missing out.
When I commit to a big goal, like an ultra-marathon, I know that I am also committing to saying no to a lot of other opportunities that may come my way. The same holds true at Moneris. Every time we say yes to a big project or initiative, it means saying no to a lot of other opportunities. Learning how to say no without guilt is very important. Deciding on things that I need to be engaged with, and things I don’t, really helps me say no without guilt.
I also believe in the Eastern philosophy that everything you own, owns you – hence the large Buddha statue in my office. Your car, your house, whatever it is, when you own that thing, that thing also owns your time. So I think really hard about the things I acquire and the things I commit to because once I do, they own a piece of my time.
Do you think that being able to negotiate your time like that makes you better in business? Why?
Yes, and it goes back to that idea of learning how to say no without guilt.
One of the interesting things about my role is that there’s no shortage of opportunities. Which means it’s especially important to think through what I should be spending my time on, and what I can say no to. It’s really easy to spend a lot of your time working on things that aren’t actually that important in the big picture, you just get so focused on something you don’t take a step back to consider what you’re doing.
It is also about not being afraid to change or simply stop doing something that is not working or producing the desired results. To succeed in today’s world you have to be agile, which means failing fast, learning fast, and moving on. My job as a leader and as a parent, is to create an environment where the people close to me can learn from their failures within a safe and nurturing environment.
It would be hard to argue that anything has had a bigger impact in the world of business in the last decade than the growth of technology. How do you make sure you stay up to speed with all the new developments that change the way sales and marketing functions?
I think there’s two ways, the first is being well read. It’s important to take the time to read about what’s going on in the world, because there’s so much happening that it can be hard to keep track. The world of finance and technology in general is growing at such a fast rate that the only real way to keep up is to read about it. Reading from a variety of sources is also important, so you don’t miss out on something or create a bias. I have an app on my phone that gives me access to a bunch of different magazines and newspapers, so I can always open that up and read something new.
The other thing is remembering that I’m not the market. What I mean by that is that the group of people sitting in a boardroom making decisions on the updates to technology or products aren’t the people who are going to actually be using these devices on a day-to-day basis. We’re not the market that we’re selling these products to. Keeping that at the top of my mind when I’m in a meeting, or making an important decision, reminds me to seek out the opinions of those who are.
What are our customers saying? What are they emailing us about, or calling our Customer Experience team about? When I know what’s keeping our customers up at night, then I know what I should be doing to make sure they’re getting the best out of Moneris.
What are some tips that small businesses can utilize in their day-to-day operations to make their sales and marketing techniques better?
I think the biggest thing small businesses need to do is adapt to technology - get comfortable with technology and start using it to their advantage.
One of the things we see affecting the success of small businesses is the greying of Canadians.
The greying generation owns many of these small businesses, and they’re either hesitant or slow to adopt new technologies. Less than one per cent of small businesses are actively investing in technology, and that’s worrisome. When an owner of a small business is hesitant to adopt the latest technology, customers may shy away and find businesses that are keeping up, and that’s where they go.
There’s also the notion that keeping up with technology is difficult and expensive, which it isn’t. It’s not difficult to create a website, there are so many platforms out there now where you can drag and drop modules together to build a functioning website. All it really needs to say is who you are and what you do, maybe a few pictures of some of your work, and some contact information. You don’t need to have an advanced system in place, but you need to be able to be found online.
The most important tip I could give any business is just to keep up with technology – embrace it and use it to your advantage. It will help so many different areas of your business, from sales, to marketing and operations. If you keep up with technology and the way shoppers are making purchasing decisions, then you’ll stay in business