To The Pointwith Boris Bozic
Commentary, Opinions, Thoughts and Discussion on Current Events, Politics and The Mortgage Industry

3 Comments Mortgage Forum: Customer Complaints

Article written by on the 29 Nov 2012 in CAAMP

Customer Complaints play a critical role in any organization because they are the rawest form of interaction between a customer and a business.  Complaints, by their very nature, are an emotional reaction to an experience.  It’s visceral so it’s more about emotion than fact.  Customers who are angry, frustrated or “feel” like they have been disrespected in some fashion are more inclined to let their feelings be known.  A company should never, ever, dismiss a customer’s complaint, even if it’s proven that the complaint has no factual foundation.  An angry customer today has a multitude of communication platforms at their disposal to share their outrage.  A company who ignores customer complaints does so at their own peril.  Companies can learn a great deal from complaints and in some cases customer complaints can help an organization identify flaws in their DNA.

As the Chair of the CAAMP Mortgage Forum, I think about customer complaints and feedback, and how best to interpret the complaints/feedback.  Unlike organizations that produce a product, the Mortgage Forum is an experience.  An experience is emotional and therefore when I review the CAAMP survey I do so through a filter.  All the feedback we receive about the conference is carefully analyzed but I also remind myself that it is nearly impossible to satisfy everyone. Some people are predisposed to having a less than positive experience.

For example, some complaints are made by those who fall into the “bitter bucket”.  These are individuals who really dislike a different approach. Let me rephrase that, they hate everything.  They long for the old ways.  The simple things in life provide them comfort, and they miss that.  If the messiah himself was to appear on stage these people would say, “great…just what we need…another motivational speaker”.  The other group is the “phantom bucket”.  These are the people who go to the conference and don’t attend any sessions. However, they still share their opinions about the quality of the sessions and speakers.  I’m impressed that their telepathic prowess is not impacted by sleep deprivation and libation intake.

Irrespective of the categories of complaints they all serve a purpose.  The Mortgage Forum is a two and half day experience and the likelihood of being completely satisfied over the course of the entire conference is pretty low. The attention to detail, by those responsible for putting this event together, is the reason why the majority of delegates are satisfied with their experience at the Mortgage Forum. For the people who arrange the Mortgage Forum, it’s the little things.  Like addressing the complaint we received one year that “the bagel’s we served at breakfast were too small”.  So now when you have breakfast at the Mortgage Forum you’ll notice there are bagel instructions on the back of all the napkins: “If you believe the bagels are too small, please feel free to eat two of them“.  Just kidding, we went with bigger bagels.

Until next time,

Cheers.

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0 Comments Day 2 – Mortgage Forum 2012

Article written by on the 27 Nov 2012 in CAAMP

It’s day two at the CAAMP Mortgage Forum and the day stated with music and a presentation on the creative process with recording artist David Usher. Hell of a way to start the day. I challenged the creative part of my brain by asking him to come up with lyrics that incorporate the words bps, OSFI, B20 and trailer fees. We might have to wait a while to hear that hit.

I have to get back to the conference.

Until next time,

Cheers.

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0 Comments Time To Go CAAMP’ing

Article written by on the 22 Nov 2012 in CAAMP

CAAMP Conference 2012Minus the tents, sleeping on the ground, rummaging for food and not bathing for a few days.  There will be no roughing it at the CAAMP Mortgage Forum 2012.  Every aspect of the conference is high end.  From its location, speaker line-up and entertainment.  The mortgage industry is entitled to an event which is celebratory in nature.  Our industry has been in the cross-hairs for some time now, and this conference gives us an opportunity to say to all those who viewed our industry in a negative light, We’re still here…We’re still standing…We’re still relevant.

As the Conference Chair, my wish is that all attendees enjoy the experience.  There’s nothing wrong with having fun while you learn and network.  Personally, what I’m looking forward to is talking to people.  Old school, one-on-one conversations. Less texts, and more handshakes and smiles.  Here’s to a great Mortgage Forum 2012, and I look forward to seeing you in Vancouver.

 Until next time,

 Cheers.

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24 Comments Life is Good

Article written by on the 20 Nov 2012 in Personal

I think we’re all guilty of making things out to be a lot worse than they really are. It’s easy to become overwhelmed just thinking about all the responsibilities we all have in our personal and professional lives. A good dose of perspective can always shake you back to reality and remind you of what’s truly a problem and what’s nothing more than melodrama. I received a good dose perspective over the last 10 days.

It was 10 days ago when I started not to feel very well, I started experiencing chest pains. I didn’t think it was heart attack, why would a 52 year old, slightly overweight man with high cholesterol think that? To be on the safe side I went to the doctor and he put me through a battery of tests. I was right, no heart attack. The doctor wanted me to be thorough so they sent me off to get x-rays done on my chest. The next day the doctor called me and said, “Your x-ray indicated that you have a small nebular density on your lung. We believe it’s benign but we cannot rule out cancer. We’re going to arrange a CT scan on chest to get a better look, and from there we can determine what the next steps will be.”

Funny how everything changed from the moment I heard those words. (more…)

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0 Comments Mortgage Forum 2012: The Count Down Begins

Article written by on the 15 Nov 2012 in CAAMP

CAAMP Conference 2012In a little over a week I get to play the part of an expected father, the birth of a massive baby;  Mortgage Forum 2012 officially opens on Sunday, November 25th, in the beautiful city of Vancouver. This is year two of the conference transformation or rebirth if you will.  The teeth gnashing and nail biting was far more intense last year.  I guess that’s because you’re never 100 per cent sure if and how the change will be embraced.  I received many compliments during the Forum last year but I had this nagging doubt that people were just being polite.  Therefore, attendees true feelings and thoughts would be captured by way of survey results.  I waited with baited breath to get the results, and what a satisfying exhale it was when the results came in.  The results were off the charts, and it was there in black and white, the changes were embraced.  Many the of the survey respondents commented, “How are you going to top it next year?”  All modesty aside, we’re going to do it. (more…)

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1 Comments Someone To Cheer For, Larisa Yurkiw

Article written by on the 13 Nov 2012 in Current Events,Personal

 For many Olympic athletes it’s not about the money, it’s about chasing the dream, representing a country and standing on the podium.

Maybe it’s just me but I really could care less when the NHL lockout comes to an end.  I think both sides make a good case why their position is the right one but if the NHL was to cancel the entire season it would have zero impact on my life.  I used to be a sports junkie, and I do enjoy sporting events. But the love of  the game for it’s purity has long since passed for me.  The naivete that the owners and players should do what’s best for the game is best left for those who refuse to believe that professional sport is business, big business.

I can’t think of a bigger business than the business of the Olympics. Multiple billion of dollars in revenues, along with envelopes full cash being passed under tables.  That just screams sporting innocence doesn’t it? In spite of the Olympic machine you can’t help but marvel at the athletes who participate, setting aside NHL and NBA pros.  For many Olympic athletes it’s not about the money, it’s about chasing the dream, representing a country and standing on the podium.  Thanks to an industry colleague, Brian Nason, I was reminded that within the business of sports there can be purity for the love of the sport.  I would like to introduce you to Larisa Yurkiw.  Frankly, I never heard of Larisa until Brian reached out to me to assist in his efforts to support Larisa.  According to Brian,  Larisa is good people, who comes from a good family.  I don’t know Larisa, I’ve never met her but I can say this, she’s got guts and she has the heart of a champion. All she wants is another shot at the Olympics, and a chance to represent Canada.  You have an opportunity to give her a hand up to the podium.  Please have a look at the video,  if for no other reason than to remind yourself that the purity of sports still exists.

Until next time,

Cheers.

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1 Comments U.S. Election – What Does it Mean for Canada?

Article written by on the 08 Nov 2012 in Current Events,US Politics

“Maintaining the status quo for America is not an option for the global economy, more specifically for Canada.”

Now that Americans have decided to maintain the status quo, high unemployment rates, mounting debt, failing economy and political gridlock, the only question remains – How does the election result impact Canada?  Unfortunately the American Presidential election is not something we can simply dismiss by saying “it’s their business, not ours”; our business is impacted by who and what party America elects.

In Canada, the Harper government did what it was supposed to do, they, stayed out of it and keep their opinions to themselves. Not easy to do considering how intertwined our economies are but we’re the junior partner in this relationship and we have to tread lightly.  It didn’t take long for both Prime Minister Harper and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty to issue statements that maintaining the status quo for America is not an option for the global economy, more specifically for Canada.  Here’s how Prime Minister sugarcoated it, “The U.S. has taken many aggressive and ambitious measures on its financial system but we’re now facing the fiscal cliff situation in the American political system in the next couple of months. That’s a big uncertainty.”  Finance Minister Jim Flaherty was more direct, “Of course we’re worried because it would mean — were the entire fiscal cliff risk to come to reality, there would be the effect on U.S. GDP — according to the Americans themselves — would be four to five per cent, which would put the U.S. economy into recession quite quickly, and the Canadian economy would follow shortly thereafter, and would have significant effect on the global economy.  So this is all very serious, and we hope our American colleagues move forward to a resolution promptly.” No ambiguity there.  The stakes are high and it’s hard to imagine that both Democrats and Republicans would be willing to drag their economy, and subsequently ours, into another recession for ideological reasons. Then again I wouldn’t bet on them doing the right thing for the greater good either.

Obama’s reelection probably means that Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke stays on the job when his term expires.  The Republicans made it very clear they were displeased with Bernanke, and the role that the Treasury plays as it relates to monetary policy.  Bernanke willingly or unwillingly helped Obama out during the campaign with the introduction of QE3, quantitative easing, which helped to boost economic data over the last two months of the campaign.  If Bernanke stays on the job we can expect rates to stay at historical lows until Q3 of 2014.  As I’ve stated before, if you want some indication as to where rates are going in Canada, see what the Fed Chairman is doing.

So, our government is concerned about the fiscal mess the Americans are in, rates are not going up in the mid-term,  no indication if Obama is going to change his position on the Keystone Pipeline, looks like not much has changed.  For our sake let’s hope the President is willing to move to the center and work with Republicans on the “Bush” tax cuts and budget.  The pragmatist in me believes it may happen given the President doesn’t have to pander to his base anymore; he’s never running for office again. The pessimist in me takes over when I consider the President has never made an attempt to move to the center, even after the Democrats lost their majority in Congress in 2010.  That should be worrisome for all of us because we all have skin in this deal.

Until next time,

Cheers.

 

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0 Comments Mortgages are Not Black or White

Article written by on the 06 Nov 2012 in Mortgage

“The question on the mortgage application asked “Are you Caucasian, African American, Latino, Asian, Native American or Other?”  My initial reaction was shock, but then it dawned on me why I was being asked this question… Now there’s a recipe for responsible lending.”

 

My blog last Tuesday,Honouring a Canadian Hero, referenced the failed Presidency of Jimmy Carter.  As stated, I do not believe history will be kind to Jimmy Carter and his legacy and defining moment will forever be the American Embassy hostage crisis in Iran.  The final act of humiliation for Carter was when the Iranians only agreed to release the hostages after Ronald Regan’s inauguration.  Regan negotiated a deal for oil with the Iranians, and he was responsible for the hostages being released.  I think it would be a challenge, even for President Carter’s most ardent supporters, to make a case that he was an effective Commander and Chief.  What about as a legislator?  Once piece of legislation the President Carter signed into law was what I believe was the genesis of the mortgage meltdown.

In 1977, President Carter signed into law the Community Reinvestment Act.  The law was designed to force banks to meet the needs of borrowers in all communities, with a focus on moderate and low-income neighbourhoods.  The belief at that time was that the banks were discriminating against moderate and low-income neighbourhoods.  To remedy this, Crater and Congress passed a law requiring banks to ensure that moderate and low-income borrowers (in those days was code for “non-qualified”) would be able to get a mortgage.  The new law armed regulators with the authority to block bank mergers and expansion if they were deemed to be non-compliant.  The Community Reinvestment Act stated banks were not required to make high risk loans, however, the penalty for not doing so could impede a bank’s ability to grow and create value for its shareholders; dilemma, dilemma.

 The truth is that after many years of the law being enacted, regulators exercised caution when disciplining banks for non-compliance of the Community Reinvestment Act.  But that all changed when William Jefferson Clinton became President.  An amendment to the Act was made requiring Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two government agencies, to securitize mortgages for those borrowers who were moderate or low-income borrowers.  Also, the regulators were instructed to enforce the law.  No more ambivalence, no more looking the other the other way.  Upon audit if a bank was found to be non-compliant with the Community Reinvestment Act, the banks’ ability to grow would be impeded by the government, period.  Oh, but it got even better.  Social and community groups were encouraged to file complaints if they believed a bank was not in compliance with the Community Reinvestment Act.  It got to the point where some banks were paying off – pardon me – making significant dollar contributions to community groups to not file a complaint.  These community groups gladly accepted the “donations” from the banks with the understanding that banks still had to fund “X” dollars in mortgages in moderate and low-income communities.  Under Clinton, the banks had to find ways to do non-qualified loans but now they could securitize these loans and get if off their balance sheet.  Now there’s a recipe for responsible lending.

 I got a firsthand look at the folly of this Act.  For a short period of time I had a mortgage in the U.S.  I will never forget one of the questions on the mortgage application.  The question was, “Are you Caucasian, African American, Latino, Asian, Native American or Other?”  My initial reaction was shock, but then it dawned on me why I was being asked this question.  The criteria to qualify would depend on how I answered that question. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requires lenders to collect this data to ensure equal lending practices, and the Community Reinvestment Act ensures that those who would not normally qualify for a mortgage, do.  Can you imagine having to ask that question here in Canada?  Now, is it any wonder that we weathered the meltdown so much better than our neighbours to the South?  Lending in Canada is not based on racial quota, it’s based on qualifying.  I’ve said it before and I will say it again, the mortgage meltdown was the result of irresponsible behaviour that boarded on criminal by some.  However, if fingers are going to be pointed at those responsible for the mortgage meltdown then historical perspective is required.  The Community Reinvestment Act provided the kindling, newspaper, butane and matches; Wall Street set it ablaze.

Tonight Americans decide who their next President will be.  I’m struck by the parallels between the Carter and Obama era.  Both had no answer for a failing economy.  During both administrations the American psyche was and currently is extremely fragile.  Under both administrations the future brought little hope. Both administrations had to deal with an embassy crisis.  Both blamed their predecessors for the state the economy at re-election.  It didn’t work for Carter and tonight we will learn if it worked for Obama. 

Until next time,

Cheers.

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1 Comments Canadian Housing Market: The Doom Sayers have Grown Silent

Article written by on the 01 Nov 2012 in Current Events,Mortgage

So… we’ll have to depend on the global economy to make up for the negative impact that a slowing Canadian real estate market will have on our economy?

Where are they hiding?  They weren’t bashful about sharing their opinion when they were telling the Government to cool down the real estate sector.  The real estate industry was the apple of every headline seeking expert’s eye.  Government must act now…our economy is at risk…for the love of all things holy please save mankind from the evils of real estate.  Funny watching the outcome – the government acted, the market dropped by 15 per cent and now those who demanded government action are now all of sudden too busy to comment.

canada-housing-correction-crashThere was a good article written by Michael Babad in the Globe yesterday titled “Careful What You Wish For”The article refers to a new report from Avery Shenfeld, Chief Economist for CIBC.  I won’t regurgitate the facts but the gist of the article is that slowing down the real estate sector could end up having a far reaching impact on the Canadian economy.  Pleads from the minority, like CAAMP, cautioning the government not to over reach for fear of exactly what CIBC is now saying maybe should have been heeded.  Here’s a quote I found interesting from CIBC’s report, “In 2013 an economic acceleration looks unlikely absent a new source of growth to fill in housing’s gap. That makes it even more urgent that the global economy is healthier come 2014, when the full bite of a housing slump on domestic activity will be felt. Until that’s a sure bet, policy makers will be cautious about pouring more cold water on the housing sector through further changes in mortgage insurance or higher interest rates.”  So we’ll have to depend on the global economy to make up for the negative impact that a slowing Canadian real estate market will have on our economy?  But we should all take solace in the fact that Shenfeld doesn’t believe the government will do anything to slow down the market further.  I wonder what the magic number is? A 15 per cent drop is acceptable but 20 per cent or greater is unacceptable?

Seeing how we’re going to have to depend on the global economy to make up for the slowing real estate market we had all better keep on eye what’s happening in other parts of the world.  Not sure if we should feel warm and fuzzy depending on Greece, Italy, Spain, China and the U.S.  The Fed’s were in a tough spot and there’s no way they could predict, with one hundred per cent accuracy, the exact level of the slowdown.  But in less than three months of the most recent changes to the mortgage rules there are signs they may have over reached; if that proves true there could be repercussions for the Fed’s, like contributing to Justin Trudeau mania.

Related Posts:

BOC Leaves Target Rate “As Is”

Canada Housing: Correction vs. Bust – Let the Finger Pointing begin

Bank of Canada still locked with the US Fed?

Real Estate & Mortgage Industry: The Margin Battle

Until next time,

Cheers.

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    "I work in a world of numbers, process, execution, risk mitigation and all kinds of other sexy stuff. To share my thoughts, opinions and personal tidbits does have some creative appeal for me. It will also push me to do something that I am not totally comfortable with, writing. Get me in front of a room full of people to do a presentation and I'm on. Writing a story that others may actually be interested in reading sounds like a challenge to me. The reality is that I enjoy a good challenge and if it ends up that mom is the only reader of my blog so be it."

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