Trisura Guarantee Makes the 2020 “Top Small & Medium Employer” List

Trisura Guarantee Makes the 2020 “Top Small & Medium Employer” List

Mediacorp Canada Inc.’s annual list of Canada’s Top Small & Medium Employers has been released – and Trisura Guarantee has made the cut.

Appearing on the list for the fourth year in a row, Trisura Guarantee is honoured to be named along with so many outstanding organizations.

“It is truly an honour to be recognized among so many top organizations in Canada,” Trisura’s head of human resources, Cindy Grant, says. “When it comes to our employees, we take a simple, uncomplicated approach. It’s our entire team, everyone from Halifax to Vancouver, that make us successful through their unwavering commitment to delivering on our philosophy of excellence, discipline and passion every single day.”

2020 marks the seventh year of the competition. The editors of Canada’s Top Small & Medium Employers evaluate employers based on the following criteria:

(1) Physical Workplace;

(2) Work Atmosphere & Social;

(3) Health, Financial & Family Benefits;

(4) Vacation & Time Off;

(5) Employee Communications;

(6) Performance Management;

(7) Training & Skills Development; and

(8) Community Involvement.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) have a large role in Canada, being responsible for over 50% of the nation’s gross domestic product. SME also account for over 90% of the private-sector labour force, and out of all the jobs created in the last 10 years, more than 95% are because of SMEs.

To read up on what makes Trisura Guarantee a 2020 Top Small & Medium Employer, including prioritizing work-life balance and open communication, click here.

To learn more about how winners of the competition are selected, visit the Canada’s Top 100 website.

About Trisura Guarantee:

Trisura Guarantee Insurance Company is a Canadian specialty insurance and surety company with offices across Canada, providing customized solutions and expertise through a select broker network. Trisura Guarantee is uniquely positioned to satisfy Canadian risks in Contract, Commercial and Developer Surety, Directors’ and Officers’ Liability, Fidelity, Professional Liability including Media and Cyber Liability and Warranty products.

Trisura Guarantee Insurance Company is a subsidiary of Trisura Group Ltd., a leading international specialty insurance provider operating in the surety, risk solutions, corporate insurance and reinsurance segments of the market. Trisura has three principal regulated subsidiaries: Trisura Guarantee Insurance Company, Trisura International Insurance Ltd. and Trisura Specialty Insurance Company. Trisura is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol “TSU.”

About Canada’s Top Small & Medium Employers list:

Canada’s Top Small & Medium Employers is an annual editorial competition published by Mediacorp Canada Inc. The list recognizes small and medium enterprises that excel in workplace culture, as well as innovative and progressive human resources initiatives. The competition is open to employers whose head office is in Canada and have less than 500 employees globally. Qualifying companies are commercial, for-profit organizations.

Changes in Surety as the Construction Industry Rebounds Post Pandemic

Changes in Surety as the Construction Industry Rebounds Post Pandemic

By John Thorpe

Construction IndustryThe Canadian construction industry has been remarkably resilient over the past 18 months and has enjoyed a surprisingly low number of contractor defaults notwithstanding the headwinds brought on by the pandemic. As we emerge from the pandemic, the surety industry is placing greater emphasis on a contractor’s ability to navigate and, in some cases, absorb unforeseen costs due to the challenges that remain. Risk mitigation has never been more important.

 

 

 

Scaling up coming out of the pandemic:

Rapid growth by taking on too much work too quickly can place a tremendous amount of stress on working capital as the business scales up. Contractors need to have a firm understanding of the business’s financial capacity and what cash is required to execute the backlog. Things to consider include:

  • Access to working capital like cash and credit facilities to cash flow the backlog;
  • Access to skilled own forces labour and qualified trades;
  • Access to the equipment to execute the work. If more equipment is needed, how will it be acquired (purchased or leased) and what does this do to company financial metrics?
  • Access and timely delivery for materials required to execute the work;
  • Understanding the financial position of the project owners and availability of project funding, if doing private work;
  • Sticking to what you know by being selective in the work being targeted;
  • Understanding the obligations being entered into by reviewing the contracts thoroughly.

Material and equipment price inflation driven by supply chain concerns:

Dealing with material and equipment price escalation is not a new issue for contractors but seems to be quite erratic today. The pandemic has shuttered supply chains globally, causing delays in construction projects while also creating uncertainty for contractors when pricing and submitting a tender package. Material and equipment vendors are also struggling to provide pricing and quote commitment windows are becoming shorter as a result. Lengthy project awards can further compound this problem. Ways to risk mitigate against supply chain concerns include:

  • Thorough review of order confirmations and purchase order and subcontracts and involve a construction solicitor in the geographic area of project, if necessary;
  • Be aware of penalties for late completion or overreaching indemnity provisions;
  • Source common materials in bulk if working capital, credit facility capacity and available storage areas allows for it;
  • Establish strong relationships with lenders and establish temporary increases in short-term financing to assist with material procurement;
  • Work with common vendors for cost certainty;
  • Negotiate with project owners for the inclusion of material cost escalation language in the contracts;
  • If all else fails, contractors should make best efforts to price in the risk of material cost uncertainty or use that as basis to negotiate more reasonable escalation contract terms.

Shortage of skilled labour:

As work programs ramp up, the need for skilled labour intensifies. A skilled labour force on a project can be the difference between a successful project and a project fraught with deficiencies, causing delays in achieving substantial completion, incurring damages due to late completion and increases in insurance claims arising from poor quality and craftsmanship. Contractors never have enough profit to build things twice!

Slowdown of Government assistance:

Many businesses survived the early stages of the pandemic with the assistance of government programs such as the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS). As these programs wind down later this year, there will be companies that suffer financial challenges, and we are likely to see an increase in contractor defaults as a consequence. Companies that find themselves in a fragile state will need to pivot quickly and adapt to the new circumstances.

New Bond Forms:

The surety industry continues to adapt and work with industry partners to provide bond wordings that respond to specific needs of the industry and demands of the current market conditions.

Understanding these current issues will give you confidence when making decisions around work selection, material procurement and staffing. For further information about changes in the surety industry post pandemic, please reach out to one of the surety underwriting experts at Trisura Guarantee Insurance Company.

 

 

The views expressed in this article are exclusively those of the authors; they do not necessarily reflect the views of Trisura Guarantee Insurance Company, its affiliates or partners.

Return to Business: Preparing and Updating a Business Cash Flow Plan

Return to Business: Preparing and Updating a Business Cash Flow Plan

By Sara Ametrano and Victor Bandiera

 

 

Four stacks of coins increasing in height from left to right, with a jar full of coins at the end. A green upward-pointing arrow is on top of the piles.

Example image of financial increase.

To alleviate individual financial struggles due to COVID-19, the Federal government implemented the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) program. This initiative (currently in place until October 23, 2021) provides financial relief for eligible employers to cover a portion of their employees’ wages if their business was impacted directly by the pandemic. Now, as the country moves toward a sense of normalcy, resuming regular business operations and repairing the economy, the CERB program is ending.

 

 

What can you do to be ready?

If you’ve received financial support through CERB, putting a plan in place to resume business operations and generating profits is key. Part of your plan should include determining and updating your cash flow forecasts. Keep in mind there is a difference between cash flow forecasts and financial forecasts; where a financial forecast projects expected income over 12 months, a cash flow forecast is the actual cash activity (in and out) on a monthly or weekly basis.

 

Are cash flow forecasts necessary?

Yes. As you create a cash flow forecast, you must understand why the forecast is needed in the first place. History is littered with companies that were growing and making money but ran out of cash when they needed it the most. As your business shifts to growth mode, you will likely have a delay between doing work and getting paid, which could stress your balance sheet. Your cash flow plans are crucial for funding growth, so keeping your plan up to date and as accurate as possible rather than revisiting it on a reactionary basis is crucial. A surety and/or bank may also require this information, so having the figures and plan updated regularly allows you to easily provide any requested, relevant data.

 

Getting started:

To implement a cash flow plan, you need a clean starting point for your tracking period. Consider starting at a month-end, as you should have a good understanding of the current business financial state, including sub-ledgers for accounts receivables and liabilities such as accounts payable, held cheques after reconciling your bank accounts, contract bookings and other payments made.  The starting position gives something to balance to as well, which is very important. The cash flow forecast is usually 12 weeks at first, and then perhaps every month thereafter for a year.

Being organized is crucial for your plan. For example, revenue can be categorized by signed contracts, items still under negotiation or small fill-in work. Using these silos can help to identify various payment term differences, as well as separate any special payment terms like holdback receivables withheld monthly and released after contract completion, which usually results in large cash infusions.

Creating a chart in a spreadsheet could be useful to visualize projected and ongoing expenses and payments as well as any changes. Some things to highlight are sales assumptions:

  • Billing and collection assumptions for each contract
    • Separate the collection of accounts receivable and accounts receivable holdbacks
  • Cost of sales for each contract
  • The subcontractors who get paid when the business is paid by the client
  • Labour costs that are dependent on actual work performed and terms of collective bargaining agreements (if union) or employment/contract terms
  • Equipment costs (third-party rentals) or leases
  • Materials (some suppliers may permit deduction of holdbacks) and prompt payment discounts for early payment if cash flow permits

Many businesses require a bank operating line to help finance operations until payments from clients are received. The ability to access funds from the operating line will be based on the bank’s margining terms usually a percentage of current accounts receivables due within 90 days.

It will also be useful to identify items that cannot be deferred until the business is paid by the client. This list can include:

  • Payroll
  • Fuel
  • Equipment finance payments (interest and principal) or lease payments
  • Canada Revenue Agency payroll tax remittances
  • Workers compensation premiums and insurance premiums
  • Rent or mortgage payments

Cost items should be further broken down based on whether they are variable, fixed or discretionary. Variable items do not follow a set pattern but are dependent on production or sales such as sub-contractor costs or fuel. Fixed items, on the other hand, follow a regulated payment structure, such as rent and financing. Lastly, the discretionary category features costs that are a little “softer” and not directly associated with a specific contract but are still connected to its success, such as marketing.

Once you have completed your cash flow plan, remember to show the residual amount monthly and at end of the period. This is calculated by adding the starting cash balance to your receipts and payments allocated over the term. This might be a buffer over the period and can aid in considering a sensitivity analysis if things go better or worse than expected.

 

Determine workload:

Part of your preparations for resuming normal business operations should include taking inventory of current contracts. Is there an adequate backlog of work? What are the reasonable forecasted profits from the current contracts and estimated completion dates? Are there any current negotiations that may result in contracts being added to the backlog?

Highlight each contract and implement status checks weekly or monthly. Include the following information for each significant contract:

  • Re-forecasts of profitability (projected revenue and costs at completion)
  • Accounts receivable and accounts payable with segregated holdback
  • Any held cheques
  • The amount of remaining unbilled and unpaid work for each supplier/subcontractor
  • Resources required to complete work and their projected costs
  • Start and anticipated substantial performance dates, and therefore, holdback release date
  • Present aging of monthly accounts receivable to give you an idea of collection and payment schedules
  • Overhead: items not included in costs of sale or contract cost estimates; indirect operational costs (communications technology, supervisors, project managers, etc.); preventative maintenance costs and capital repairs versus running repairs of equipment
  • Internal equipment rental expense and true costs including fuel, wearing parts (for example, tires), running repairs (oil changes, radiator flushing, hydraulic oil, etc.), insurance, capital and depreciation including major overhaul costs (engine and undercarriage rebuilds, etc.) and expected return on capital
  • Information regarding debt service and split principal/interest on debt

CERB relief should be shown separately. Do not reduce your payroll costs, as this will just artificially reduce total amounts rather than show a true reflection of cash impact. All associated costs (paid and received) should be precisely accounted for to avoid any breach of trust obligations (if applicable), as per the statutory provincial Construction Act or Lien Act requirements. Items with a past-due status should be included as well. Deferred revenue and any work in progress do not need to be considered when it comes to the cash flow plan, as they are accrual-based calculations.

Having a strong understanding of your business’s cash flow forecast will give you confidence when making decisions around staffing, equipment purchases and when bidding on projects. Also, being able to present and articulate your cash flow plan will provide your lenders and surety with confidence to support the goals you have for your business, which should lead to more leverage and better terms.

If you have questions or would like someone to review your cash flow plan, please reach out to one of the surety underwriting experts at Trisura Guarantee Insurance Company.

 

The views expressed in this article are exclusively those of the authors; they do not necessarily reflect the views of Trisura Guarantee Insurance Company, its affiliates or partners.

Trisura Talent Continues to Shine Bright

Trisura Talent Continues to Shine Bright

Insurance Business Canada has surveyed the industry nationwide to highlight some of the top young professionals in the business. Trisura is extremely proud to announce that two members of our talented team, Kate Shaw and Stephen Logush, have been named Rising Stars for 2021!

Rising Star finalists must be nominated and meet key criteria, including:

  • Be aged 35 or younger as of March 01, 2021;
  • Hold a position that is relevant to the insurance industry;
  • Be committed to a career in insurance;
  • And, hold a passion for the industry.

 

Meet our Rising Stars:

Woman with long hair and pink blazer.Kate Shaw has been with Trisura for over two years and has nearly 10 years of experience in the insurance industry. As an executive solutions underwriter, she is responsible for managing and building a portfolio of directors’ and officers’ liability and fidelity business. Kate obtained a BA degree from McGill University and also has her Chartered Insurance Professional (CIP) designation.

Kate likes that no two days are the same when working in the insurance industry. “I love that each day brings new challenges and learning opportunities,” she says. “It’s always enjoyable to collaborate with broker partners to find creative insurance solutions for their clients.”

 

 

Man in suit jacket and grey striped tie.Stephen Logush is a manager of Trisura’s Toronto surety branch. In his role, he is responsible for working with the organization’s broker partners and team of underwriters to grow and manage the portfolio of accounts in Ontario. Stephen is a member of the SAC Young Professionals Committee, which organizes networking and professional development events for the young professionals in our industry. He has earned his Associateship in Canadian Surety Bonding (ACSB) and Canadian Risk Management (CRM) designations, and he is working towards an MBA degree through Wilfrid Laurier, which will be completed next spring.

Why does Stephen enjoy working in the industry? It comes down to the people. “Analyzing a complex set of financial statements is fun and all, but it’s really the people that make the industry so enjoyable,” he says. “Finding solutions while developing long-term relationships with our broker partners and contractors is the most rewarding part of the job.”

 

About the Insurance Business Canada Rising Stars report:

Previously named Young Guns, the Rising Stars report shines a spotlight on industry professionals aged 35 or younger. The report identifies individuals who bring a fresh perspective, innovative ideas and a sense of leadership to the roles and organizations.

You can find the official 2021 Rising Stars report here.

Trisura Guarantee a Top Small & Medium Employer for Fifth Year in a Row

Trisura Guarantee a Top Small & Medium Employer for Fifth Year in a Row

After months of anticipation, Mediacorp Canada Inc. has released their coveted list of Canada’s top small and medium employers. And, for the fifth consecutive year, Trisura Guarantee is thrilled to be one of them.

Canada's 2021 Top Small & Medium Employers logoWinners of the competition, now in its eighth year, are selected based on several factors, including physical workplace, work atmosphere and health, wellness and financial benefits. This year, however, the editors of the Canada’s Top Small & Medium Employer list also looked for how organizations approached the unique challenges of the pandemic. In an unforeseen landscape, it has been necessary for companies to be flexible, quick to respond with solutions and helpful with employees’ concerns.

Richard Yerema, the managing editor of the Canada’s Top 100 Employers project, explained that this year’s leading companies were successful in creating the a smooth transition from working in the office to working remotely. “Not only were [the top companies] able to transition employees to working from home right out of the gate, but many already had policies in place that allowed for flexible work,” he said. “It was simply a matter of extending existing benefits, such as home office allowances and internet subsidies, to make the full transition.”

For the 2021 competition, it was important that the selected organizations offered the right benefits to help employees be as comfortable as possible with all the uncertainties we were all facing.

Over the past year, Trisura remained agile and was quick to respond to the urgency of the pandemic. The “virtual door” remained open for employees who had concerns or simply wanted to chat. Known for the social work culture, Trisura also hosted online team events, such as catch-ups and game days.

“Once again, we are truly honoured to receive the recognition as a Top Employer In Canada,” Trisura’s senior vice-president of Human Resources, Cindy Grant, says. “This past year, like everyone, we faced new challenges but worked diligently to support our team with appropriate resources to be successful. Our entire team from Halifax to Vancouver–makes the difference with their unwavering commitment to delivering on our philosophy of excellence, discipline and passion in everything we do.”

Trisura was also recognized for important initiatives and offerings, such as prioritizing and encouraging employee personal development through training and education, as well as a generous benefits program. Learn more about what makes Trisura Guarantee a 2021 Top Small & Medium Employer here.

 

About Trisura Guarantee:

Trisura Guarantee Insurance Company is a Canadian specialty insurance and surety company with offices across Canada, providing customized solutions and expertise through a select broker network. Trisura Guarantee is uniquely positioned to satisfy Canadian risks in Contract, Commercial and Developer Surety, Directors’ and Officers’ Liability, Fidelity, Professional Liability including Media and Cyber Liability, Warranty and Property and Casualty products.

Trisura Guarantee Insurance Company is a subsidiary of Trisura Group Ltd., a leading international specialty insurance provider operating in the surety, risk solutions, corporate insurance and reinsurance segments of the market. Trisura has three principal regulated subsidiaries: Trisura Guarantee Insurance Company in Canada, Trisura International Insurance Ltd. in Barbados and Trisura Specialty Insurance Company in the U.S. Trisura is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol “TSU.”

About Canada’s Top Small & Medium Employers list:

Canada’s Top Small & Medium Employers is an annual editorial competition published by Mediacorp Canada Inc. The list recognizes small and medium enterprises that excel in workplace culture, as well as innovative and progressive human resources initiatives. The competition is open to employers whose head office is in Canada and have less than 500 employees globally. Qualifying companies are commercial, for-profit organizations. For more information about the competition and selection criteria, visit the Canada’s Top 100 website.