Paying it Forward

How insurer BFL Canada’s Rahim Tejani is motivating his team and bringing in like-minded self-starters to maintain the company’s careful growth

A family man with two kids and a wife of 15 years, Rahim Tejani keeps fit and recently completed the Silver Wheaton Ride to Conquer Cancer, a more-than-200-kilometre bike ride from Vancouver to Seattle. “It can be a pretty solitary sport, so it gives me a chance to unplug and think past the day-to-day on overall strategy instead.”
A family man with two kids and a wife of 15 years, Rahim Tejani keeps fit and recently completed the Silver Wheaton Ride to Conquer Cancer, a more-than-200-kilometre bike ride from Vancouver to Seattle. “It can be a pretty solitary sport, so it gives me a chance to unplug and think past the day-to-day on overall strategy instead.” (Photo: Bretton Dyte)

When Rahim Tejani came to work for insurance broker BFL Canada in May 2013, it was a homecoming to an industry he thought he’d left behind 10 years ago. Tejani credits the allure of BFL’s people—from the top of the organization to the bottom—and their ambition to keep Canada’s largest employee-owned and employee-operated commercial broker and consulting-services firm thriving.

“We just attract a certain breed of individual, one that’s self-motivated, has pride in their work, and wants to do the right things for their clients,” Tejani says. At BFL, people matter, and as an employee-owned firm, it takes special care to align the interests of its clients with those of its workers. Tejani now helps guide the company’s insurance professionals as the managing vice president of its Calgary branch, and here he offers a few numbers to prove just how well the work is going.

17 years of experience

After graduating with a business degree from the University of Alberta in 1997, Tejani sought out a variety of opportunities that would allow him to maintain a lifelong journey of growing and learning. While concurrently earning his CFA in the early 2000s, he worked in fields as varied as banking, treasury operations, capital markets, and oil and gas operations.

His path led him to a position as assistant treasurer at Talisman Energy, in charge of credit and corporate finance, and he received two promotions there to eventually become the head commercial executive for the Canadian gas business, in charge of capital deployment, budgeting, economics, and supply chain.

7 core values

“I ended up at BFL because I was impressed with the leadership and their values,” Tejani says. Specifically, it was the firm’s entrepreneurial spirit and aggressive growth strategy that resonated with him.

The firm’s roots extend back 27 years, to when Barry F. Lorenzetti, whom the Montréal-based company is named for, founded it on December 14, 1987. Since then, the company has fostered a work environment promoting innovation and creativity through seven core values: (1) make a difference for clients; (2) excellence, intensity, and professionalism; (3) respect and trust employees; (4) integrity; (5) teamwork; (6) entrepreneurship and creativity; and (7) community service and charitable activities. They’re all values that Tejani seeks to bring out in the portion of the staff that he oversees.

A 30% increase in staff

In just his first year with BFL, Tejani has watched the company’s staff increase by 30 percent. The growth can be partly attributed to BFL’s business model, which involves encouraging and developing employees to become partners and owners.

Tejani himself serves as an employee motivator and guiding force at BFL Canada’s Calgary branch, and he keeps an eye out for workers who are hungry yet humble. He already has a staff of more than 40, and he’s receptive to more growth, but it’s important to him and to BFL as an organization to choose employees who aren’t satisfied with the status quo.

How are you growing?

“The best growth has always been testing myself and never being complacent. I approach every day with a ‘how do we get to the next level?’ approach.”

No 8-hour days

Tejani’s days don’t start at 9 a.m. and end at 5 p.m.; he’s part of a relationship business, so meetings happen both during and outside of standard work hours. The majority of Tejani’s time is spent motivating his team, and he uses the remainder to work with clients and insurers or discuss market challenges with other senior team members.

And it’s not just him, either; every employee, from BFL’s CEO to its new hires, has a role building market relations. “I hire good people, support them, give them resources, and allow them to do the right thing for each other, the clients, and the community,” Tejani says.

4 awards

In July 2013, Canadian Insurance Top Broker named Tejani as one of its Top 10 Under 40 because of his extensive knowledge beyond the insurance field. His company has received accolades as well: it landed on Deloitte’s 50 Best Managed list in both 2000 and 2001, and founder Barry F. Lorenzetti was a finalist for EY’s Entrepreneur of the Year in 2000 and won the Established Leader National Award from the Insurance Institute of Canada in 2012.

The company’s admirable reputation extends into the philanthropic realm, too, thanks to its support of numerous charitable organizations, including Skate Canada, the Canadian Cancer Society, CityReach Care Society, the Kidney Foundation of Canada, and Le Centre de l’Épanouissement de l’enfant Pinocchios.