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

3 Comments A Surreal Experience

Article written by on the 20 Sep 2013 in Business,CAAMP,Canada,Merix Financial,Mortgage,Personal

It’s amazing how many thoughts can race through your mind in a matter of seconds.  The images are vivid, yet vanish in seconds.

I had such an experience earlier this week.  There I was, about to start a meeting with the Minister of Finance, Jim Flaherty and my mind went racing down memory lane.  For a split second, I found myself recalling the very first mortgage application I ever filled out. This was twenty five years ago.  I met my first customers on a Saturday morning, but as it was my first deal as a mortgage broker, I would have gladly have met them at 3:00am.  Oh, the knowledge I had back then.  For example, I was aware that mortgage’s was spelled with two “g’s”.  I was so wet behind the ears that I had to keep a drawer open in my desk so I could refer to an old Statement of Mortgage.  I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss anything, so I kept taking a peek at a completed Statement of Mortgage.  I had to resist the urge to laugh at the memory.

“There were many other thoughts that kept running through my head, especially about CAAMP, and how far we’ve come as an association.”

In a couple of nanoseconds I also thought about the first time a fledgling national association called CIMBL made their way to British Columbia to pitch brokers on why they should become members.  I was in attendance at the pitch. I remembered standing at the back of the room listening to CIMBL’s talking head, saying without embarrassment, “if you do not become members of this association lenders will not pay you a finder’s fee.”  I couldn’t help but think, “you fool, you just set this new association back by three years in British Columbia”.  I was wrong, it was five years.  There were many other thoughts that kept running through my head, especially about CAAMP, and how far we’ve come as an association.

But I had to clear my mind and prepare for the meeting with Mr. Flaherty. Jim Murphy, CAAMP President, Daryl Harris, CAAMP Chair, and myself were given the opportunity to meet with the Minister of Finance this week.  The purpose of the meeting was to share our thoughts and concerns for the mortgage broker market.  Both Jim and Daryl did an outstanding job, laying out the facts in a balanced and measured way.  It was our hope that the Minister of Finance would view our positioning points through the lens of consumer choice and the important contribution the mortgage broker channel makes to the Canadian economy.  Jim Murphy has done yeomen’s work on behalf of our industry in Ottawa and this most recent meeting added another layer to the relationship foundation between CAAMP and the Finance Department.  Kudos to both Jim and Daryl.

As for my role at the meeting?  I spoke briefly about the important role that mono-line lenders, like MERIX, play in the mortgage broker channel.  Most importantly, the choice we provide for Canadian borrowers.  I also spoke briefly about the contribution that mono-lines make to Canadian tax role.  Mono-lines provide greater choice for borrowers but they’re also job creators.  I made it very clear that we ask for no favour.  The mono-lines are prepared to compete but the nuances and difference between mono-lines and banks should be factored when making decisions which impacts funding for the mortgage broker channel.  The Minister of Finance stated that his office would consult with our industry about all the recent changes and what our needs might be going into 2014.

One of the things I am most proud about during my time on the CAAMP Board is the relationship which has been built with Ottawa and the regulators.  I wasn’t too long ago when it was difficult to get a phone call returned from the powers that be. Today, the calls are being returned and we have an opportunity to sit at the adult table. Influence cannot happen without dialogue.  I believe CAAMP’s efforts are being noticed.  It’s why we don’t hear the “cash grab” argument with the frequency we once did.  Today, even the haters have some difficulty arguing that the nominal cost to be a member is not worth trying to protect our collective wallets.

Until next time,



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0 Comments Now This Is Refreshing

Article written by on the 13 Sep 2013 in Canada,Current Events,Economy,Mortgage

I’m spending some time in airports this week, and I use that time to catch up my reading.  I came across an on-line article by Christina Pellegrini, “Why real estate doomsayers continue to be wrong.” The article originally appeared in the Financial Post Magazine.  There was something different and unusual about the article which left me out of sorts after reading it.  Figuring I must have missed the nuance, I read the article again.  Then it dawned on me. The story was fair, balanced and looked at both sides of the story.  That’s something which is sorely lacking when it comes to stories about the real estate/mortgage industry in our country.

For far too long the doomsayers have dominated the airwaves and print media.  I get it, it sells.  Crash, bust or apocalyptic meltdown gets more attention than a stable and balanced market.  But shouldn’t someone hold the doomsayers accountable or at the very least ask the question, “you were way off, please explain?”

Pellegrini attempts to do just that.  There was a great quote in the article from Canada Mortgage Trends, Rob McLister.  With respect to where prices may be at some point in the future, Rob said the following: “Anyone that purports to tell people where prices are going to be in two, three, fours years down the road is a fraud. Housing is stable at this point and there’s nothing on the horizon that we can say with certainty is coming that would derail the market.”

Facts and trends can be debated, and that’s healthy. The problem today is there doesn’t appear to be much debate.  Rob’s viewpoint, along with many other in the article, is not only refreshing but necessary.  A balanced story, irrespective of the topic, requires work.  It’s time for some to stop being intellectually lazy.

Until next time


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1 Comments Canadian Wireless Oligopoly: Lessons to Be Learned

Article written by on the 06 Sep 2013 in Canada,Current Events

What I learned this week was that for some business entities a $19 billion market is just not worth the effort.  It’s been well documented that global wireless giant, Verizon, made a preliminary bid to purchase Wind (for an estimated $700 million).  Verizon was also kicking the tires of Mobilcity, and contemplating a takeover.  But alas, Verizon had a change of thought and announced this week that they are not considering entering the Canadian wireless space. I also learned that when the Canadian wireless oligopoly is threatened they don’t stand by idling and allow the chips to fall where they may.

Rogers Communication, BCE Inc. and Telus Corp went on a very impressive campaign to protect their piece of the pie; airways were saturated with ads by all three.  The theme of the ads ranged from job loss in Canada, to the ever popular saying mouthed by most 12 year olds, “it’s not fair”.  I spend a lot of time in the car and listen mostly to talk radio. I think every second ad on the radio was about the evil American wireless empire potentially coming to Canada, and changing the wireless landscape as we know it.  I was impressed how the wireless companies came together to fight off a potential business threat by trying to push every emotional hot button of Canadian wireless consumers.  They had no shame.  If it meant wrapping their issue in the Canadian flag, then so be it. The ads also produced humour.  Not sure if that was the intent but a few of the ads made me laugh out loud.  Like the one ad that suggested a recent survey showed that wireless customers in Canada would be willing to pay more in fees because of the great services provided by the big three wireless companies.   Ah, okay.  I’m not going to question of the integrity of their survey, and I’m sure a survey actually exists.  Like the survey I have, which indicates that 80% of Canadian mortgage consumers would be willing to pay a 50 bps interest rate premium from mono-lines because of the important role they play in the Canadian mortgage space.  Full disclosure, our survey respondents where myself, Kathy Gregory, Donald Zuill, Jill Paish and Jason Kay.  Sure, we all happen to work together at MERIX and Paradigm, but that in no way influenced our survey results.

Whatever the real reason was for Verizon’s decision not to enter this market place will never be truly known.  Maybe their $700 million dollar offer to Wind was nothing more than a trial ballot to see how their competitors, consumers and regulators would respond.  Verizon now has a clear picture of how the wireless oligopoly in Canada will respond if they decide in the future that entry into a $19 billion wireless marketplace is worth the effort.

There’s a lesson here for the mortgage industry as well.   BCE, Rogers and Telus are fierce competitors, but that didn’t stop them from putting their competitive nature aside to protect their pie.  Not just a slice but the entire pie. They took their fight directly to the Canadian wireless consumer, and for now, they won.  Now they can go back to divvying up their spoils.

Until next time,


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