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

3 Comments MERIX – Customer Appreciation

Article written by on the 29 Jan 2013 in Merix Financial

“The greatest gift we can give our supporters is an opportunity to learn.”

I’m always on the lookout for way to bring value to our customers, beyond the standard products and services; not an easy task, especially if you’re looking for originality.  What’s original today?  See, it’s not easy.  In our industry it’s become common place to equate corporate customer appreciation with socializing events and off-site adventures.  I understand why organizations do this.  Saying thank you to your customers by taking them too far off destinations, mingling and bonding, has its merits.  But how do you come up with something just a little bit different?  My view on customers appreciation trips may be a little jaded but it’s my way of thinking and I just can’t shake it.  It goes something like this – MERIX pays our customers a lot of money in trailer fess.  My hope is that our customers earn obscene sums of money, and they can use some of that money to travel anywhere they want in the world, with people they actually like.  With that in mind how can we put our twist on a customer appreciation event?  Best place to start for me was to think of my own personal experiences, and what event or trip stood out for me; I kept coming back to one.

For a number of years Genworth Financial would invite a number of their customers to attend the “World Business Forum” in New York.  It was a trip I looked forward to every year.  I felt privileged to be asked to attend.  The invited guests were business heads representing the lending industry.  To be in their company was a privilege, but to be able to attend an event such as the World Business Forum was also a great educational opportunity for me.  It was an opportunity that I always relished, and is demonstrated by the fact that I continued to attended, along with the MERIX Senior Leadership Team, long after Genworth stopped making it an annual event.  The value I derived had nothing to do with the fact that the the dime was on someone else.  The experience is well worth the money, my own money.  Combine the fact that educational experience is held in one of the greatest cities in the world, New York, woohoo! 

So if this trip had such an effect on me, why beat myself over the head to come up with something totally original?  For years I wanted to do this, and this is the year.  We’re announcing that we’re going to be taking a number of our supports, who reached status with MERIX Financial, to the World Business Forum in New York this October.  The greatest gift we can give our supporters is an opportunity to learn; to open their minds to other ways of doing things.  The speakers at the World Business Forum are not motivational speakers.  The speakers at the World Business Forum are the champions of industries.  They don’t just teach, they do.  Presidents, CEOs, activists, authors, leadership of all stripes speak at this event.  They share their stories, their success’ and their concerns.  The best part of attending for me is the humbling experience I go through.  If I start to believe my own press clipping, well, being surrounded by that much success and brain power makes me realize I’m a guppy in the grand scheme of things.  At the conclusion of the World Business Forum I reminded that I have to up my game, and MERIX wants to help our supports up their game as well.  Oh yeah, and have a blast in New York.  To our loyal supporters, hope to see you in New York.

 

 

 

 

 

Until next time,

Cheers.

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5 Comments Canada’s Housing Market: Self-Fulfilling Prophesy

Article written by on the 24 Jan 2013 in Current Events,Mortgage

canada-housing-correction-crashAs I mentioned in my last blog, the purpose of my visit to Mexico last week  was to attend the TMG conference.  I was asked to take part on a lender panel, where I and a number of my esteemed lender colleagues,  would answer questions about our industry.  A question that was put forth to me was, “do I believe that regulators would make further changes to mortgage rules in 2013?”  My crystal ball was a little foggy that morning, it could have been the tequila, so I applied reasoning when answering.  I answered, “no “.  No one can say with absolute certainty what the government may or may not do.  But today’s reality leads me to believe that any further changes to mortgage rules may create unintended consequences, which could result in harming our economy even further.   My view is that of CAAMP’S, the most recent changes to mortgages rules may have over reached.  If the most recent changes to mortgage rules was intended to slow down home sales, then one would have to say mission accomplished.  Due to all the changes to mortgage rules over the last three years all of us are feeling an impact in some form or another.  This is the new norm, and time will tell if regulators went too far this time.  So, I’m less concerned about further changes to mortgage rules in the immediate future than I am about rhetoric.

There’s a good article in the Globe and Mail about what could possibly happen to the Canadian housing market when you cry wolf enough times.  Consumer psyche is a fragile thing.  If people in authority, and those supposedly in the know, say it often enough consumers will deem it to be so.  Good evidence of this came from the most recent Maritz survey on behalf of CAAMP.   Over sixty per cent of the general population believe Canadians have taken on too much debt.  Yet close to seventy per cent of the respondents do not believe it applies to them.  So how did they come to formulate this opinion?  Did they conduct a survey in their neighborhood?  Are they all qualified economists?  They form their opinion based on headlines,  and those that are responsible for fanning the flames.  It’s the rhetoric that I’m most concerned about now.  The mind is a powerful thing, and those in sales know how import their psyche is when it comes to success and failure.  Never would I suggest to ignore the facts as it relates to business.  That’s suicide.  Those of us in the industry can separate facts from hyperbole.  But does the consumer do the same?  Of course not.  They’ll form their opinion on sound bites and snippets of information.  Thus my concern about rhetoric, especially coming from those who have fallen in love with the sound of their own voice.

Here’s the link to the Globe and Mail article, it’s a good read. 

Until next time,

Cheers.

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9 Comments Air Canada Customer Service

Article written by on the 23 Jan 2013 in Customer Service

air canada customer compliantThis blog is coming to you late because the last few days have been an “adventure” and my thoughts were somewhat preoccupied.  I write this blog at thirty five thousand feet in the air and my intentions are to share with you some of the worst services levels I have ever encountered while flying.  That’s truly remarkable given the hundreds of flights I have taken.  As an example I flew over seventy six thousand miles with Air Canada alone in 2012.  I thought I saw it all until my most recent trip.

The purpose of my trip was to attend the TMG conference in Mexico.  In no shape or form was my experience a reflection of the conference.  The conference itself was great.  TMG invited Kathy Gregory and me to attend, and to speak during the business session they held for all their brokers attending the conference.  Unfortunately Kathy had to cancel the trip due to circumstances beyond her control but I was going to attend because it was TMG.  The Mortgage Group is a valued customer of ours but more importantly because of my personal relationship with Grant and Debbie Thomas.  If they ask me to attend, I’m there.  I tried to do the right thing by supporting my friends but I also decided that I should get back earlier because plenty of work waits for me at the office.  Simple, no?  Clearly not.  

My Executive Assistant booked a new flight for me to come back last Saturday, meaning that I would only be in Mexico for 48 hours.  No problem, worth the effort for reasons noted above.  I was originally scheduled to come back on the following Tuesday, yesterday.  So there I am on Saturday bidding farewell to those who attended the conference.  Off to the airport I go, along with other conference attendees who were leaving a little earlier.  Of our group I was the last to check in at the Air Canada counter, and this where it gets nuts.  Here’s how the conversation went with the Air Canada employee who was supposed to check me in:

AC Employee:  I’m sorry sir but ju can’t go on de plane because ju name not on de list.

Bozic: It must be some kind of mistake, please check again.

AC Employee: No mistake,  ju name not on de list.

Bozic: (Holding up my iPhone to show him my e-ticket).  Is this an Air Canada confirmation?

AC Employee: Si

Bozic: Is it a confirmation for this flight?

AC Employee: Si

Bozic: Am I getting on this flight?

AC Employee: No

Bozic: Why?

AC Employee: Ju name not on de list.

Bozic: How do I get my name on the list?

AC Employee: Ju got to talk to Air Canada.

Bozic: Is this the Air Canada check in counter?

AC Employee: Si

Bozic: At this moment do you represent Air Canada?

AC Employee: Si

Bozic: Can I talk to you about getting my name on the list.

AC Employee: Si

Bozic: Will you help me to get my name on the list?

AC Employee:  No

Bozic: Why not?

AC Employee: Ju name not on de list.

I am not kidding, and they wouldn’t allow me on the flight.  To make matters worse I contacted Aeroplan, because I have a number that I can call because I’m a “valued” customer at Air Canada.  I call the number and the person on the phone says; “I’m sorry sir but there’s nothing I can do because you booked this trip on-line and not through Aeroplan”.  So Air Canada’s solution was to strand a passenger and not care at all about the damage they were doing to their own brand; strict adherence to an employee procedural manual trumped creative thought and problem solving by Air Canada employees.  I get it, people make mistakes.  But there’s something called duty of care, and in my case Air Canada failed miserably in this regard.   On the other hand, Best Points Travel who didn’t even book my flight back, we’re called upon to see if they could offer any assistance.  They worked the phones tirelessly, calling everyone they could at Air Canada to see if they could get me back home. When they realized that Air Canada didn’t care at all they immediately booked me on a flight with United Airlines the following day.  To Donna and Jennifer at Best Points travel, thank you for doing what Air Canada failed to do, actually giving a damn about a customer.

I have to say the following day got even more comical.  Back to the airport I went on Sunday, this was really starting to look like the movie Groundhog’s Day.  I said goodbye to everyone at the conference, again, jokingly saying I’ll see them at dinner tonight.  I arrived at the airport, checked in at the Untied counter, ecstatic that my name was on the list.  Boarding pass in hand I happily headed to the bar for a nice cold cervesa.  I had few…. because I waited for five hours before United finally announced the flight was cancelled because of bad weather.  Hand to go god I burst out laughing.  I can’t blame United Airlines for bad weather.  It happens, but I never should have been at the airport for that flight.  I was only there because of Air Canada’s total disregard for a customer, and ultimately their hiring practices.

Remember, I was originally booked to come back on the Tuesday, and even with all the changes made to my flights I didn’t cancel the original Tuesday flight.  I also never checked out of my hotel room early because I paid for it until Tuesday.  Thankfully that voice in my head told me not to cancel the original flight and hotel room.  I needed both to preserve some sense of sanity.  And thankfully Sunwing Airlines got me home, and they gave me five hours of flight time to think and craft this blog.  My little blog has had four hundred thousand page visits in just year and half, and now I got to share my Air Canada customer service experience with thousands of people.  I feel a little better now.

Until next time

Cheers

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4 Comments Farewell to ING

Article written by on the 17 Jan 2013 in Lenders,Mortgage

I feel like that old man slowly watching his friends die off; checking every day to see if his name has made into the obituary section, realizing it hasn’t he goes about his day.

In the short time that I’ve been blogging I’ve written a few farewell blogs to lenders who are no longer with us.  Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, we bid so long to ING in the broker channel.

Firstly, if the news that the ING brand will no longer be available in the broker channel, well, I’m surprised – anyone would be surprised.  Scotia Bank, who purchased ING Canada, is focused on franchising customers and their strategy is to enhance and grow their own brand.  So it was only a matter of time before orange would become totally red.  I guess the time is now.  The loss of any lender in our space is troublesome, on many levels. Competition has many benefits, pricing, product innovation, and credibility.  To think this announcement won’t create a dominos effect is a little naive.  Recently some lenders have announced a reduction in finder’s fee.  Why? Because they can.  That’s what happens when choices become limited.  Don’t believe me? Ask any broker in Australia.  I’m not suggesting there will be a mad rush by lenders to reduce compensation but with every announcement telling us another lender has exited the market the possibility increases.  It’s Darwin’s theory of business evolution.

For those who have supported ING you should take a moment to thank them for their support of your business.  They paid well, they had aggressive pricing, and from what I heard they made tremendous strides from a service standpoint.  If you were a supporter of ING you can’t complain, it was a good run.

Until next time

Cheers

 

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1 Comments Housing Prices: What is being said?

Article written by on the 16 Jan 2013 in Mortgage

It’s not necessarily what you say but when you say it.  This came to mind to when reading an article in the Globe and Mail this morning.  The headline read,Jim Flaherty on home sales dive: I don’t mind prices coming down a bit, too”.  Was this remark simply off the cuff?  Or was it a comment made by someone who has decided it is time to pursue other career paths, therefore, being candid will have no political ramifications?  I got to thinking about that because the other half of the economic dynamic duo has already decided to bolt.  Mark Carney (not sure who’s Batman or Robin in this working relationship) has been making bold and provocative statements for the past 24 months.  Was that a result of Carney becoming enamored with his own press clippings or has he known for some time now that he would be perusing greener and more lucrative pastures?  Clearly there’s only one person who can answer that but it does leave one wondering if the level of candidness was a result of an impending departure.

So what to make of Flaherty’s statement that he wouldn’t mind if home prices come down a bit?  Now there’s a future campaign slogan.  Out on the campaign trail, pumping flesh, kissing babies and reminding voters that’s okay if the equity in your home has been eroded.  Logic and experience tells us that politicians have an outside and inside voice.  Outside voice: “NO NEW TAXES”.  Inside voice: “VOTE FOR ME MY LITTLE LEMMINGS”.  Flaherty is not a nephrite when it comes to making public comments.  He’s been doing this for too long to know what will and will not stick to him.  Politically, making a comment like “I don’t mind prices coming down” doesn’t make a lot a sense; so, is this frankness a sign that he may be moving on?  If it is, who could blame him?  He’s done an admirable job during uncertain times.  He’s been in this role for some time now, and navigating the Canadian economy since the economic crisis couldn’t have been a lot of fun.  The daily pressure and issues he faces would leave most curdled up in the fetal position, sucking their thumbs and calling for their mommies.  Okay, maybe that’s just me.  Jim Flaherty has done a great service for this country, and if he’s decided that now is the time for him to cash it in, we should all volunteer to give him a ride to the bank.

As for the most recent housing data in the Globe article, “Alex, I’ll take No #%&@ for $200, please”.  The net result is exactly what the government wanted.  The good news – the number of listings are down.  There’s balance between supply and demand, and we have low interest rates and solid employment numbers.  There’s a new norm we will all have to adapt too, and nothing suggests Armageddon is on the way.  Now if we could only get public officials to lower the decibel levels, a bit, we’ll be just fine, thank you.

Until next time,

Cheers.

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1 Comments Brian Burke – The Price of Leadership

Article written by on the 10 Jan 2013 in Current Events

The sports world was a buzz yesterday with the announcement that Brian Burke (President and General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs) was told that his services would no longer be required.  As often is the case in these situations; code is used when making the public announcement.   At a press conference yesterday President of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, Tom Ansell said the following “Brian will not have direct authority over hockey operations…We want to thank Brian for accepting his new role and staying on with our organization.“  That new role is place holder for Mr. Burke to give him time to work on his transition.  The fact of the matter is that Mr. Burke was terminated, fired, gassed, punted or any other such term that is used by all of us to describe what REALLY happened.  It doesn’t matter where your name is slotted on an org chart, being terminated is a devastating process.  Being terminated is something employees take personally.  And on termination the employee is being told that the organization is best suited to go forward without them.  How can than not be personal?  Now throw in the fact that it’s all taking place in the public eye, now that’s tough.

It’s easy to say that the public aspect of termination comes with the territory; absolutely, but there is a human element to it.  Regrettably people forget or just don’t care.  I was listening to an all-sports radio station on the way home last night and one caller into the station said, “I was praying for this to happen.”  Really?  With all things going on in the world this is what the idiot caller picked to pray for?  Ignorance aside, you can’t help but wince when someone goes through something like this in the public domain.  I feel for Mr. Burke but there’s a lesson here.  I don’t believe his termination was necessarily performance based; if it was, why now?  I think this decision was based on style versus substance.  It’s also a case of personal principals trumping corporate objectives; therein lays the challenge.  Effective leaders depend on their intuitive skills and internal compass.  But there’s a balance, and the question becomes when do you put your principals aside for the greater good?  Sometimes shareholders, the board or even employees may suggest the path chosen by the leader may not be the right one.  But ultimately the leader will decide if he/she is willing to risk their employment over principal.  As romantic as it may sound that you will never compromise your own principals, there’s the issue of pragmatism.  Is it worth winning the battle only to lose the war?

Termination is never easy.  I struggle with having to do it.  It’s a duty and responsibility that I have, and I will execute it.  But I can assure you that it’s caused me many sleepless nights.  Over the years I’ve come to accept the fact that I will never be able to truly separate the personal from the business when terminating someone.  I know that it is no consolation for the person being terminated but if there ever comes a day where I don’t consider the personal element of a termination…it’s the day I will not be able to look at myself in the mirror.

Until next time,

Cheers.

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0 Comments Hello 2013

Article written by on the 08 Jan 2013 in Business

The only thing that is constant is change.”

Welcome back all and I hope you all enjoyed the Christmas season.  I know that may be somewhat politically incorrect to evoke Christ’s name during and after the holiday season.  Here’s my view on that, oh well.  I celebrate Christmas and if I say Merry Christmas, and someone responds by saying Happy  Hanukkah or Happy Big Bang Theory Day, I won’t be offended.  So let’s dispense with political correctness of Christmas past and focus on the future.

 

Things to look for in 2013?
As
a start who will be in charge at the Bank of Canada.  Mark Carney’s reign is coming to end by mid-year so it will be interesting to see who his replacement will be; someone with “star power”?  Or a bureaucrat who goes about his business in the shadows?  The Globe is reporting that the Finance Department is not saddened about Carney’s departure.   According to the Globe, “Though the finance minister has worked closely with Carney and had helped catapult him into the exalted job of central bank chief in 2007, the once-tight relationship deteriorated in the following years as Carney’s star power threatened to leave Ottawa’s political class in the shadows, sources said“.  How juicy, how Entertainment Tonight.  I can see how Minister Flaherty might have been a little perturbed.  The Minister is an elected official whom the voters can turn on if things don’t go according to plan.  On the other hand the head of the Bank of Canada takes no political risk and benefits from a bigger payday in another country. 

Another thing I will be watching for is the treatment of CMHC in the press. When and why did it become fashionable to treat CMHC like a Pinnate?  I get it, when you get big enough you take your blows deserved or not.  When you’re big enough you become a lightning rod (for illustration look to the dominant technology provider in the broker space, as well as the National Association).  But CMHC has been around since 1946, dedicated to home ownership in Canada, and yet now the scope of their responsibility is being questioned in the press.  By appearance this looks to be a case of fixing something that isn’t broken.   Or it could simply be a case of CMHC running up against powerful enemies who whisper sweet nothings into the ears of the press?

Of course we’ll all be watching for signs that economies, be it ours or around the world, are starting start to garner some momentum. Then again that’s old news, that watch began in 2008.  I have no doubt that 2013 will be another interesting year for all of us.  The only thing that is constant is change.

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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