Fulcrum Collect, Managing Director Designate Jade Jensen chats to FA News editor Rianet Whitehead in the “In Conversation” series.
It was a candid conversation learning more about Jade, who has empowerment of people top of mind, the exciting roll-out of Fulcrum AirCollect™ and Jade’s message to the industry.
“Fulcrum has a long track record of integrity and transparency. We are innovative, we have a caring and compassionate culture and we pride our service excellence”
FA News: Who is Jade Jensen?
Jade Jensen: I wear many different hats. I like to do lots of different stuff. So obviously my job, my Fulcrum job is very important to me and I love the fulcrum family. I’m a wife, I’m a mother I’m an animal lover, I love to entertain, I love to cook, I love to sew. Just about anything. I’m very open-minded, very busy. I like to be constantly challenged as well. I’ve had a very varied background and social life as well.
FA News: Tell us about your experience, specifically related to where you are now and why you are a perfect fit for the job going forward?
Jade Jensen: My experience with the insurance industry only started when I joined fulcrum, which was in 2017. So my background is very much the fundamentals, strongly rooted in the financial world. So I’m a chartered accountant, I did my articles with KPMG many eons ago. I’ve always had an entrepreneurial streak, so I didn’t stick around at KPMG for years. And then I moved on and I did my own business and own consulting.
My longest stint was with Bang and Olufsen, which is an audio company where I was the MD for 15 years. So I think a strong financial background is very important for me. It’s not my passion. My passion is people. Upskilling people, training people, bringing teams together. That’s where I see my strengths. I’m always up for the challenge and learning more, I think to stagnate and sit in one industry for any length of time I find extremely boring.
It was a lucky accident that I fell into the Fulcrum world. I started out in the financial department and the opening in the collections department came along and Barry interviewed me and the rest is history. I was on a very steep learning curve, but it’s been an amazing journey and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
FA News: With new blood comes new ideas, is there anything you’d like to share with us?
Jade Jensen: We are in the process of rolling out our brand new product called Fulcrum AirCollect™, it’s a first, well, we actually think it could be a world first, but it’s certainly a South African first. So it’s a very unique product. It’s Barry’s brainchild, so he’s, unfortunately, going to be leaving before it’s completely out there in the market, he’s been instrumental in getting it off the ground. So, my focus and my team’s focus are going to largely be on rolling that out and getting it out there the way it should be.
I’m sorry that Barry is not going to see it come through to its full rollout. In the last 12 months, there have been quite a few changes in the collections management team, it’s actually interestingly enough very women-dominated, which I think will bring a very fresh perspective to the business. So I think it’s challenging times ahead and I’m very excited to be leading that team forward into the future.
FA News: Real Entrepreneurs are always up for the challenge and you are one. So I think you’ll definitely take it in your stride. You mentioned Barry, we obviously talking about Barry, you’ve worked quite closely with Barry in the last few years. What will you miss most about Barry?
Jade Jensen: You know, Barry and I have worked so closely together. We’ve traveled, not more recently, but before we traveled a lot together as well. So I would describe our relationship as a friendship as well. So I really will miss that about him. And he’s been an amazing mentor. He’s been free with his knowledge, his contacts, and his introductions, and he’s to be perfectly honest throughout my career, he’s the best boss I’ve ever had. He’s totally trusted in me, totally believed in me, totally supported me.
So I’ve got lots to thank him for, in terms of where I am now. So I will certainly miss him. I’m certainly planning on picking his brain in the future, so might be retiring, but I don’t think he stopped thinking and he’s such a strategist anyway. I think we’ll always be coming up with new ideas.
FA News: For sure, you spoke about mentoring, how important do you think mentoring is? I mean, beyond the industry, that’s fairly old. I think the role of mentoring the younger generation is absolutely critical. Your views on that and are you mentoring anyone?
Jade Jensen: I’m very strong on mentoring. I believe it’s critical. Your team needs to grow with you. I very much want to bring the team along this journey that I’m on as well. So I strongly believe in sharing the knowledge and, basically what Barry did for me and bringing those people along so they know the succession plan. That’s encouragement, the growth, the training, whatever the case may be, that’s needed to get the people to that level. It’s a hugely important thing to me, and I’ve done it throughout my career in different ways and different times.
I will continue to and am still doing it within Fulcrum and, you know, I believe strongly in growing the people that are already within the business and pulling them up at the same time. So we are very busy doing that right now, getting coaching done or that type of thing.
FA News: What I’m hearing is really open and strong communication lines, because that is where I think a lot of leaders might fail or where a lot of companies have challenges where there is not enough, and the right type of communication going from the top to bottom and from the bottom to the top. So what I hear is proper communication, which is really great. Fulcrum’s goals and the rollout of the new product, what is your ultimate goal?
Jade Jensen: We’d like to be the market leader in our collection space. I think we are already a long way and we’re getting there quite fast. With the rollout of our Fulcrum AirCollect™ product, it’s an innovative product, our goal is to provide excellent service to both brokers and insurers. We are very aware that there are regulatory changes and challenges, and we are making sure that we future-proof the models that we are building so that we can satisfy the data requirements that are now going to be expected from both insurers and the brokers going forward by the FCSA. So that’s very much on our radar as well.
We’ve also recently started pulling in new people, the management team has changed the composition a bit and I think we’ve introduced quite a lot of fresh perspectives and new people. And I think it just gives us that energy and that wanting more. I think we’ve created a team that is going to be positive, optimistic, and energy to just go for it.
FA News: That sounds really positive, what I wanted to say is that you are operating in a space that’s been in the news, not Fulcrum specifically, but the area you are operating in has been in the news for various reasons. And for that reason, it makes it so much more important from a compliance and regulatory aspect to still be innovative within the limits.
Jade Jensen: We are working very hard at that.
FA News: In the August edition of FA News, we had a feature with phenomenal women and you were one of them. One of the questions was, what advice would you give to your younger self?
Jade Jensen: That was to always believe that I was good enough and to trust my instincts. I think women, in particular, tend to doubt themselves, perhaps more than men do. I think it’s the decisions you make, trust your gut, because you are going to be right. I think I was quite successful in that, but I think I’d definitely give that advice, to push my younger self, to do things quicker and not wait as many years as I did.
One of the things I mentioned was that a family business is not really a good idea. Bang and Olufsen, it’s a Danish brand that was re-introduced to South Africa. B&O was both my best and my worst career moment. And I think it was because I think working with family is very challenging. I think it’s something that not all families can do. I just think that it was a word of caution, to be honest, I don’t think I would change it if I went back because the experiences and the people I met and the learning and the growth were worth it in the end, but, you know, those issues become personal and, those business issues come home with you and it can be really, really difficult. So I would caution against that.
When I left B&O it took me until now to really see that, and to start feeling totally comfortable with myself again and happy with the relationships that I have with my family again. So it was a journey.
FA News: Any advice to people who strive to reach the top, men, and women?
Jade Jensen: The road to success is never straight, it’s always bumpy, there are always obstacles and you just never give up. You just keep on swimming, you get up every single time. I really believe in being humble and grateful. I think arrogance is extremely unattractive and, don’t burn bridges. You’re part of a team you’re not going to get anywhere without the support of that entire team.
You don’t do things on your own, there is no island. I believe very strongly in the team effort and not trampling on the people below you to get where you want to get. I do believe in karma, and very strongly in that. The team effort, which is really what I would bring to the fulcrum environment as well. I prefer to sit in an open plan, so I can be approachable and hear what’s going on. I like to see everybody and see if something’s going wrong really quickly. I like to be very involved with my staff. I like to know who they are as well and pull them up with me.
FA News: Lastly, what is your message to the industry.
Jade Jensen: As you mentioned, the collections agencies have had an unfortunate press about them in out them in recent years, but I think fulcrum has had a very long track record of integrity and transparency. And I think we have proved to the industry who we are.
We are very innovative. We have brought a very compassionate, caring culture within Fulcrum itself, as well as our service excellence.
We’ll be a force to be reckoned with. We are a market leader, and we are here to stay.