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

2 Comments Canadian Government and the Big 6

Article written by on the 28 Mar 2013 in Business,Canada

“I wonder how you would feel if you received a call from the government saying we would rather you not buy down interest rates.”

Ever run across something that doesn’t sit right.  That nagging doubt that you can’t put your finger on, and it just hangs out there. I experienced that a few days ago after reading an article in the Globe.  I decided to take few days and give the article one more glance to see if my original reaction would still be the same.  Yup, nothing changed.  The article in question appeared in the Globe on Wednesday, March, 20th.  The headline read, “Flaherty Pushes up Lending Rates – Finance Minister called lenders to express displeasure at mortgage competition, raising bankers’ hackles“.

Few will or should care about a bankers disposition, but I think we should all care when big brother over reaches.  I do not how else I can categorize the direct influence over pricing by the government in the private sector. As reported in the Globe, Minister Flaherty contacted Bank of Montreal to chastise them for lowering rates in an attempt to buy market share.  A call also went out to Manulife, but the scolding was delivered by one of the Minister’s underlings.  It’s easy to say who cares if faceless corporations get their wrists slapped.  But any government encroachment of pricing in the private sector should give us all pause.  Imagine you are a mortgage broker who has embarked on a strategy of rate buy-downs.  The merit of such a strategy is irrelevant, what is relevant is that you have the right to earn or lose money based on your competency or incompetency.  We live and work in a free market economy, and the state plays an important role; pricing of products should never be one of them.  I wonder how you would feel if you received a call from the government saying we would rather you not buy down interest rates.  I get it – that would never happen based on the actions of a handful of brokers. But entrepreneurs of all sizes share a common principals, and for it to be different based on the size of the enterprise alone undermines the fundamentals of competition.

Another part of the story I find troublesome is why did this become public?  I suspect the Minister of Finance would be put directly through to the CEO of both Bank of Montreal and Manulife.  For appearance sake alone this arm twisting should have been done in private, and not worn like a badge of honour in public.  The general public already believes that the working relationship between the government and banks is too cozy; these stories don’t help to dispel that notion.

Until next time,

Cheers.

 

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2 Comments This is What Growth Looks Like

Article written by on the 26 Mar 2013 in Business

Growth is something we should all focus on.  For MERIX, we’re focused on growth in terms of numbers and market share but also professional and personal growth, creative and strategic growth – for MERIX growth is our Kool-aid.  When looking for inspiration and what growth means for MERIX, I didn’t have to look far.

We’ve had the opportunity to get to know (and I use that term very lightly) the professional alpine skier – Larisa Yurkiw.  Her goal of competing at the Olympic games was shattered due to a severe knee injury which severely set her back (watch her inspiring video below).  She pushed through and is now working harder than possible to achieve her dream of being a medal contender in Sochi 2014.  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.  Larisa embodies the type of resilience and spirit that is akin to MERIX.  We may be a small fish swimming amongst the whales and we realize have hurdles to jump and hills to climb – but we’re not afraid of hard work, taking risks and finding solutions – MERIX isn’t going anywhere.

Through our winter campaign we’ve stood behind her and tracked her progress.  We would like to thank our MERIX originators who have generously supported this cause, with your help we have raised $5000!

 

Larisa has generously agreed to share a few of her own thoughts on the topic…

I’m writing this from Squaw Valley, California.  It’s an absolute dream here.  Often the perception of the glamorous lives of athletes is inaccurate.. but not here.  Today we ski raced in the morning and played beach volleyball this afternoon.  I have a heart full of gratitude for the opportunity to spend a week with great teammates and the chance to use up a handful of nerves for the races.

As I think of ways to explain my personal growth, having heard this is a current theme for MERIX Financial, my mind wanders to what I didn’t do.  That’s the truth.  I’m my worst critic.  I know this unrelenting pursuit of ‘more’ has driven me hard to achieve my goals.  But I am slowly learning to be a better friend to myself.

This past season has begun to teach me about soaring in a whole new light.  I’m growing because I’m friends with the challenges that have been my teachers.  They’ve hurt me and often shifted my focus in a negative way… but, for the most part, they are positively affecting my life.  It has taken a long time to recognize why words like perseverance and courage had to be redefined for me… I thought I knew enough about them, but growth is so powerful.  For me, growth is movement.  Everything from moving through a frustrating weekend of racing to moving through a turn on my skis at 130km/h, opportunities present themselves everywhere.

On paper, I would think some of my staff have seen little to no growth in me since my injury and 2-year break from sport.  On paper.  But I know that it was my injury, precisely, that guided me to learn lessons, meet certain people and look a little further within, that has made me so much more powerful.  With a few more lessons on patience, I’m going to find out real soon how far I’ve come and how far I can go with this journey.

MERIX, thank you for joining me on this adventure.  I feel confident that each of you can relate on many levels.  Let’s see how far we can go!

 - Larisa

http://www.larisayurkiw.com

https://twitter.com/larisaYurkiw

 

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0 Comments Must Be Spring

Article written by on the 20 Mar 2013 in Current Events

Sure signs that spring just around the corner.  Firstly, March break.  The airports are packed, and people working at the airports are exceptionally snarly. Second, baseball spring training is in the home stretch and soon the boys of summer will make their way home.  Thirdly, the Masters Golf tournament is weeks away.  And lastly, the Toronto Maple Leafs have begun their annual collapse.  Sports reminds us that spring is just around the corner, at least is does for me.

Another indicator that spring is just around the corner, not sports related, is the Federal Budget.  I suspect tradition will continue, which means Minister Flaherty will be sporting a new pair of shoes.  I wonder if the Finance Ministers actually does the shopping or is one of his flunkies responsible for picking out the perfect pair.  Be that as it may, Flaherty doesn’t have much wiggle room, so grand solutions for our sputtering economy should be tempered.  Government revenues are down (I really hate that term because when has the government ever earned revenue?) so spending cuts should be expected. Increasing taxes on an already over taxed population is not a solution.  The question that needs to be answered is which government programs will take the hit. Provinces and municipalities will wait with bated breath to see where infrastructure spending will be directed.  The government has made statements that we should not expect an equal distribution of spending on infrastructure.  It appears that some children will be more special than others to the ruling Conservative.   

Flaherty has his hands full trying to navigate Canada’s economy amidst all the uncertainty.  Now it appears that that he will factor insanity into his global equation.  That’s the only way I can explain the EU’s decision to tax bank depositors in Cyprus to offset their bailout.  Will this cause a run on the banks in Cyprus, and other European countries that fear that the EU may impose the same punitive measures in their countries?  Bold decision can lead to drastic mistakes, example – American government allowing Lehman Brothers to fail.  The course will probably remain the same – boring; and I suspect that’s what Flaherty will give us on Thursday.

Until next time,

Cheers.

 

 

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2 Comments March Break

Article written by on the 12 Mar 2013 in Personal

Heading out for March break which means a good dose of patience is required.  There’s a fairly long line-up to get through U.S. customs; due in part because of the time of year and cutbacks of U.S. customers officers working at the airport.  It appears the budget squabble between Democrats and Republicans will have a direct impact on Canadians traveling to the U.S.  Oh goodie! An increased work load will do wonders for their overall disposition.

I write this blog just after going through the check-in and security process.  Remember when traveling use to be fun?  Not so much anymore.  Then again there was a time when you could never conceive that a group of madmen would fly planes into buildings.  Traveling changed forever after 9/11, and understandably we were all going to be impacted by the changes. Don’t know about you but I don’t get all that fussed about the added security.  My only question is how effective the “added security” really is.  The only thing I can hang my hat on is that no other crazy ass bastards have successfully flown a plane into other buildings.  So I guess officials can make the argument that it’s not all just optics.

So if you’re flying this week you should find ways to amuse yourself as you go through checking in and clearing security. There’s plenty of people to observe and if you’re so inclined, eavesdropping.  You’ll need to find ways to entertain yourself because the line up to get through security compares to the line up to get on Space Mountain, at Disney, on a good day. 

Until next time,

Cheers.

 

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1 Comments CAAMP Moves Forward

Article written by on the 07 Mar 2013 in CAAMP

It’s been five years since the last time I took part in the CAAMP strategy session, and over the next two days I’m at it again.  The board is meeting in Niagara to chart the course for CAAMP for the next five years.  It’s an important exercise to go through, and it’s an exercise that all the directors take seriously. The decisions that will be made over the next two days will reflect the wishes of the membership.

There have been many changes in our industry over the last five years, and it only stands to reason that changes would apply to CAAMP as well.  From my perspective the most profound change for CAAMP is their activism.  Over the last five years CAAMP has become THE voice of the broker channel, and represents the interests of multiple constituents on a national level.  CAAMP’s membership has made their wishes clear, government relations is recognized as the number one activity that CAAMP undertakes on their behalf.  Can’t say with any certainty what the board will ultimately decide on over the next two days but I suspect government relations will be at the forefront.  One of the other changes that I’ve noticed over the last five years is that there is less chatter that CAAMP dues are simply a cash grab.  I don’t think it’s a case of not seeing the forest from the trees but I believe the majority of the membership has been able to join the dots.  Paying dues means we have the ability to lobby government, which leads to protecting what’s in our member’s wallets, and to ensure sustainability for the long haul.

The association has grown by leaps and bounds over the past five years, and it truly represents our industry in all regions of the country.  Our preset Chair is from Manitoba, next year’s Chair is from Saskatchewan, and two years ago our Chair was from British Columbia.   In my humble opinion CAAMP cannot be viewed as an Ontario based association only.  CAAMP’s membership is in line with our countries population but geography alone does not dictate who will lead the association; ability does, and that’s the way it should be.

Until next time

Cheers

 

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4 Comments Opportunity Awaits – MERIX Financial

Article written by on the 05 Mar 2013 in Merix Financial

“People left good paying jobs to be a part of this company when it was nothing more than a concept… Investors took a gamble on our business plan but more importantly the people behind the business plan.”

There’s not much happening on my end. Of course I say that with tongue firmly planted in cheek. By now I assume you’ve heard that controlling interest in both MERIX Financial, and Paradigm Quest, changed hands last week. It took a couple of days for it to actually sink in that the sale process was really over. The process had been going on for a better part of a year. It was all consuming, and all distracting. But now it’s finally done and we can all refocuses our energy on growing both MERIX Financial and Paradigm Quest.

Before moving forward I wanted to share some thoughts with you, and to acknowledge some people who played a role in the success of both MERIX Financial and Paradigm Quest. First and foremost, Kathy Gregory. The creation of MERIX and Paradigm was first formulated on the back of napkins, over a few libations. This was long before these entities were called MERIX and Paradigm. Back then we referred to these companies as Sales Co. and Process Co. From a napkin to a fully baked business plan was the next step. At that point Kathy made one of the most important hires for both companies, our CFO, Donald Zuill. Kathy, Donald and I believed to our very core that this plan would work but now all we had to do was convince some folks with money, real money. Kathy and Donald did just that. A group of individuals came together to create an entity which is known today as FFP, Five Fathom Partners. FFP took a gamble on a business plan but more importantly the people behind the business plan. To FFP, particularly John Donald, thank you for you belief in the plan, and us. We will always wear the shareholder value we created like a badge of honour. We said we would not fail you, and we take great pride in holding up our end of the bargain.

From a MERIX perspective, I want to thank a few individuals for their faith in our vision, and to put it quite humbly, your faith in me. You left good paying jobs to be a part of this company when it was nothing more than a concept. To Andy Kuyper, Lori Smith, Jill Paish and Lloyd Pritchard, it was my pleasure to have shared this part of the journey with all of you. To all of our loyal supporters, and particularly those who were early adopters to the trailer fee model, I thank you for your faith, and for demonstrating to the industry that the trailer fee model is sustainable. You helped to change the industry. Many lenders in the industry now pay on renewals. That didn’t happen because lenders wanted to be more generous. It happened because you helped to legitimize the trailer fee model. Now it’s time to move forward. To those who still wish to debate the safety of trailer fees, clearly there’s nothing I can say or do to change your mind. So I won’t bother trying. After all these years what more can we say or do demonstrate trailer fees are safe. So we’re going to focus on the segment of the market place that does get it. Oh, and one more thing – to our competitors who tried to create uncertainty in the market by suggesting that brokers trailer fees were at risk with MERIX because of the impending sale, all is fair in love and war. And I would like to thank you for stoking our internal fire. We’re coming!

Until next time,

Cheers

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