Why is that we have to make things so difficult. Sometimes the answer is simple, and the solution stares you in the face. Yet for many in our society the obvious is too easy and they would rather debate and bludgeon us with theory. The poppy is now being debated. Should we wear one or not? Does it glorify war? Should we wear a white poppy which denotes peace? I guess we’ve solved all the world’s problem that it’s time now to debate the poppy. (more…)Read More Add a Comment
As the Greek economic tragedy unfolds before our very eyes, you may have missed that a Canadian has been asked to come in and help clean up the mess. Mark Carney, Bank of Canada Governor, was appointed head of the G20 Financial Stability Board. The FSB will be responsible to bring in more regulations and oversight to world markets. (more…)Read More Add a Comment
Normally when you think of politicians the word brilliant does not come to mind. There’s an appreciable difference between being a brilliant politician and an effective legislator. You can be a brilliant politician and do nothing for the people you serve. Brilliant politicians know how to play the game. One of the best game players was President Bill Clinton. Think of the scandals he faced, as well impeachment proceedings, and he walked away from it all, unscathed. Some might suggest that his reputation have forever been tarnished. (more…)Read More Add a Comment
There’s little doubt today that digital advertising is here to stay. This is no fad, and if you fight or attempt to resist digital advertising you do so at your own peril. The challenge is how do you measure the effectiveness of digital advertising, and how can you monetize it? Calculating what your ROI is on advertising is critical, and given that digital advertising is still relatively new, a leap of faith is required. That’s somewhat risky but to not get in the game at all poses even greater risks to your business. (more…)Read More Add a Comment
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For years now I suspected that I suffered from a malady known as MADD, Mortgage Attention Deficit Disorder. Thankfully no medication is required but it’s an ailment I have to monitor closely. What brings on this terrible affliction?
A few of the symptoms are boredom, “doing the same old same”‘; if everybody else is doing it a certain way, why are we?; if it’s not working, fix it now, and a multitude of other symptoms. This is a personal demon I battle with, and clearly, I say this in jest. (more…)
Ah, but this time it’s not about casting a vote in a federal, provincial or municipal campaign. We here in Ontario will exercise our democratic right in early October, the pre-set date for the Provincial election in Ontario, the election I’m referring to is the upcoming CAAMP Board election. As someone who has campaigned twice I can assure you the process of getting elected is as political as any other election. It takes organization and a commitment of time and resources to get elected. To all the individuals that have put their names forward to run this year, I commend them for their courage and willingness to volunteer their time for the greater good. (more…)Read More Add a Comment
Is an awareness campaign necessary?
Few people really know what a mortgage broker does.- Some facts are indisputable; broker market share is trending in the wrong direction.
We must create a stable industry. This requires us to make this industry known and to attract the brightest so they can become the next generation of brokers, lenders and insurers.Read More Add a Comment
No…my apologies…it could still be a train. Just when we start to believe that maybe, just maybe, we can get through a couple of days without some pending crisis, BAM, there’s more talk of a double dip recession. I know the press subscribes to the adage, “if it bleeds it leads”‘. The truth is the global economy has taken more bullets than James Caan did in that famous scene in The Godfather, when Sonny was gunned down at a toll booth in New Jersey. Unlike Sonny in the Godfather, the global economy keeps getting up for more.
Here in Canada we got the news that housing starts are down. Job creation has been flat now for two consecutive months. Our unemployment rate inched up to 7.3%. The uptick was ever so slight, but the fractional increase represents real people without jobs. Furthermore, CMHC reported that refinances were down by 40% since the new rules came into effect. When I visit a mortgage broker I always ask them what percentage of their business is refinance versus purchase. One individual stated it was at least a 50/50 split. If that was reflective of all broker business we would be trending to a 20% decrease on year over basis. The picture will become clearer when the Q3 numbers are released, but suffice to say no one should be expecting increase on a year over year basis. As a matter of fact, being flat year over year means you’re gaining share. The BOC stated, the overnight lending rate would remain at 1% until the middle of 2012. Some analysts are suggesting there be no changes until 2013. That’s a clear sign of how fragile our economy is. When rates increase it will be a clear signal that our GDP numbers are headed in the right direction, more Canadian’s are being employed and the markets have stabilized.
President O-Blah-ma was at his oratory best when he spoke to Congress about the new “Jobs Bill”. It was reminiscent of the speeches he gave on the campaign trail, you remember, “Yes We Can!”. I think we’ve all come to the realization that means, Yes We Can…talk a lot…and do very little. The President introduced a “Jobs Bill”, with an omission, how will it be funded? He’s going to get back to Congress on that in a couple of weeks. No rush, all the time in the world. I see there was a $44 billion trade surplus in the U.S. last month. A lower valued U.S. Dollar helps their exports, but when investors look for a safe haven they still flock to the U.S. Dollar. This makes it tough for the U.S. to manipulate their currency (not that they would ever do that). According to the American’s it’s only the Chinese who do that. Bottom line is the U.S. will remain in a quagmire until they fix their housing crisis. It’s a drag on their entire economy.
Some good news is that some austerity measures are taking hold in Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Italy. They still have plenty of work to do but at least those countries are taking some positives steps. Greece? It appears that representatives of the Greek Government are still more concerned about holding onto power, rather than introduce real austerity measures which could put them back on the right course. It’s going to get a lot worse in Europe before it gets better.
Finding silver linings today is a bit of a challenge. But every once in a while we find that nugget. Vancouver, Toronto and Calgary made the top 10 cities in the world to live in. From where I sit Canada is THE best country in the world to live in. I wouldn’t trade our problems for any other countries problems. We’ll do our part, but damn it, they got to do theirs.
Until next time
CheersRead More Add a Comment
There are historical events that take place in everyone’s lifetime which are seared in our memory. Every generation has their moment. I thought about what historical events do I remember vividly as we approach the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Three events immediately came to mind…
The 72 Summit Series. Canada versus Russia…. good versus evil… democracy versus communism. This was more than a hockey series. I was 12 years old back in 72. Like the rest of the country I so desperately wanted the good guys to win. Back then I didn’t get political nuances, all that mattered to me was that my heroes were playing against this team from far away. I remember when the series moved to Moscow for the final four games, my first thought was, oh-oh, school’s going to get in the way of me being able to watch the games.
All the games would be broadcast in the afternoon. I really didn’t get differences in time zones back then. Alas, there was no need to worry. My grade 7 teacher wheeled a TV into the classroom, and there we watched game five, six and seven. Then the unthinkable happened. After game 7 our teacher reminded us that were going on a field trip, and unfortunately we wouldn’t be able to watch the eighth and deciding game. Clearly she was joking, and I believed that up until the moment I was getting on a school bus to go on the field trip. I was furious, I couldn’t believe we would miss the deciding game because we were going to a nature preserve, to look at plants and bugs. As game time approached I made a decision, I had to find a way to watch the game. When we drove up in the school bus I noticed there was a building on the property. I decided to have a look. The building was empty and I went for a walk about until I found a room that looked like a cafeteria. I walked in, and is if my prayers were answered, there was a TV. I went to turn it on, promising god that if the TV worked I would be really good. He heard my prayers, its minutes to game time. Then my teacher walked in…arms folded across her chest…she asked me, “and what do you think you’re doing Mr. Bozic”. Back then I didn’t understand rhetorical questions, was so I answered “I’m watching the game”. She gave me my marching orders but I responded with, “I can look at bugs and plants any day of the week, but this hockey game is history”. She walked out and I thought this game better be worth it because my old man is going to kill me. You see back then you didn’t defy teachers, at least not in our house. As I contemplated that my life will probably end in four hours, I figured that’s what would happen when I get home from school, my teacher and fellow classmates walked into the room. We all sat there together and watched this amazing hockey game. When Paul Henderson scored the winning goal, with less than a minute to go in the game, the room went nuts. I remember walking up to my teacher and hugging her, and to say thank you. I remember her looking down on me, with a smile on her face, and she said, “you were right”. Some teachers are amazing.
I remember the night John Lennon was murdered because I just started working at a radio station. Many moons ago I worked on air, and my first gig was an overnight jock at a radio station in Orillia, CFOR. During my 45 minutes of training, I was told keep an eye on the news wire. It’s a service radio stations subscribed too, and the newsmen would use the copy to read on air. So there I am, a rookie announcer, all by myself at the station, nervous as hell and the wire service is going crazy. I heard some beeping coming from the wire service machine, so I figured something big must be happening. I walked into the newsroom, I looked at the copy which was being printed, and there it read, BULLETIN…JOHN LENNON GUN-DOWNED IN NEW YORK. Holy &@!?…what do I do now? So I went into the music library and pulled out every Beatles album the station had. I played Beatles music for rest of my shift, and went on the air every 15 minutes with updates about John Lennon’s murder. There was no protocol to follow so I winged it. Thankfully the program director was on side the next day, and I’m sure all my listeners that night – the overnight gas station attendant and the two cab drivers – appreciated the music.
I was supposed to be on a plane on 9/11. I was at the Fairmont Hotel at the Vancouver airport on the morning of 9/11. I had a plane to catch back to Toronto. I woke up that morning, made some coffee, and started to read the newspaper. I’m reading yesterday’s news so I’m completely oblivious to what’s going on. I then get a phone call from my cousin, who lives in Vancouver, and he asks me if I’m watching the news? I said no, and he said turn it on, I think we’re at war. I thought what the hell? Did he fall out of bed and bump his head? Okay, I’ll play along. I turned the TV on, and I watched in stunned disbelief for about twenty minutes. For some reason a voice in my head said, “get away from the airport”. I packed up my clothes and made my way to my cousins place. I had to stay there for 5 days before I could get a flight out. I’ve never wanted to come home so badly. I just wanted to be around family and friends. It’s been 10 years since 9/11, and our world changed dramatically that day. Especially for the 27 Canadian families who lost loved one’s on 9/11.
Godspeed.Read More Add a Comment
We all have some ground to make up, and the good news is we have fewer distractions. The summer is unofficially over.
I don’t know about you but Labour Day Weekend feels like the end of summer for me. I know the official date to bid farewell to summer is September 22, but Labour Day Weekend reminds me of things to come. As a kid I hated to see the CNE in Toronto close for another year. Why? The day after it closed it was back to school. No kid looks forward to going back to school, unless it’s that kid that always sits in the front row, raises their hand to answer every question, and their goal is to be on the honour role and not to get stuffed into a locker. Back to school also means traffic will be a mess, especially the first week after Labour Day Weekend. Everyone is back from summer vacation, but while people were away enjoying summer, they all seemed to have forgotten how to drive. Drive…neutral…reverse, no different from July 1st, but some folks need a week to adjust.
Another adjustment we have to make after Labour Day is the weather. Right on cue we reached a high of 17 in Toronto, on Labour Day Monday. On Saturday it was 34, and on Monday I was looking for a jacket. The only people happy to see the temperatures fluctuate to that degree, pardon the pun, is Al Gore and the Enviro-Nazis. You see they don’t call it global warming anymore, now it’s called “Climate Change”. If the earth gets warmer or colder…they’re always right. I’m always leery of a zealot or a fanatic. When you identify fanaticism, usually the motivation is money. It’s been widely reported that since Al Gore took up the environment as his cause for being, his net worth has grown to $100 million. For that kind of money people will say and believe in just about anything. I know one thing for sure, Al Gore won’t have to turn down the thermostat this winter to pay the bills. If the truth be told neither will we. We’re Canadian’s…winter is around the corner…we deal with it.
As the temperature starts to drop, and the kids have re-acquainted themselves with old friends back at school, our business refocuses to the tasks at hand. The banks year-end is October 31st, and for the rest of us we have another four months to make our year. We actually only have three months to work with because December is, well, December. If you’re not working on anything by December 15th, you might as well shut her down. Before we get to December we all have an opportunity to make up for lost ground. Statistics suggest that our industry Q3 numbers will be sluggish. That’s code for down on a year over year basis. The numbers will probably indicate that we’ve had further overall market share erosion. I don’t believe the numbers will be alarming but further decrease in market share will create a certain amount angst, and a lot of chatter. The good thing about our industry is we don’t just babble, we do. We’ve all been extraordinarily resilient over the last few years. We have to draw on the lessons we’ve learned from the past, and put that wisdom to good use as we enter Q4. We all have some ground to make up, and the good news is we have fewer distractions. The summer is unofficially over.
Until next time.
Cheers,Read More Add a Comment
I want to share with you a retention strategy I just experienced, and I after I got off the phone I couldn’t help but wonder if we applied said companies retention strategy at Merix, would it help us to retain more customers?
Every company today has a customer retention strategy. Be it in the communication field, insurance industry, grocery stores, mail order, lending and mortgage brokering, Irrespective of the market sector…there’s a retention strategy in place. Some companies are good at it, and very aggressive. Retaining customers is critical to a company’s growth. Our industry is only now talking about this issue but the reality is it’s been a part of our work environment for many years, and the practice will become more prevalent going forward. The purpose of this blog is not to debate the “who owns the customer” question. I want to share with you a retention strategy that I just experienced, and I after I got off the phone I couldn’t help but wonder if I applied said companies retention strategy at Merix, would it help us to retain more customers?
The story goes like this. I decided to discontinue the services of an alarm company. If there’s any would-be break and enter specialists reading this blog, I didn’t say I wasn’t changing companies; I was just discontinuing to do business with a certain company. When all is said and done, I’ll have security numbers to enter, loud alarms that will go off, and a snipers nest on the second floor. What, that’s too much? Before I lose my train of thought, where was I? Oh yeah, saying goodbye to Joel. I’m not going to name the alarm company but they FORCED me to do it. The customer service rep said the following to me; “We’re sorry to see you leave Mr. Bozic, but I understand totally. Cancelling your service will not be a problem. We’re going to forward to you a list of instructions; we can send that to you by email or mail. The instructions are easy to follow, and we’ll also include a box with a courier slip from UPS. You have to send back all hardware by the 15th of the month. The hardware must in good working order, and in the same condition that you received them in. If we don’t receive hardware by the 15th of the month, you service will continue for another 30 days. Should you change your mind and wish to continue to use our services, we’ll gladly take care of that. We’ll forward another list of instructions”. Well, that’s easy, and very clever on their part. Clearly their strategy is to make it difficult for me to leave. So I couldn’t help but wonder what if Merix was to apply the same strategy?
“Hello Mr. Borrower. Yes, we did receive your discharge statement. May I ask why you have decided to take your mortgage business elsewhere? I see, the bank offered you 150 bp’s below our rate, a free chequing account, and a weekend at the banks CEO’s cottage in the Muskoka’s. I totally understand. The discharge process is very easy. We’re going to send you instructions…we can do that by email or mail. We will include a box, a plastic cup, as well as a courier slip from UPS. In the box you will include all the original documentation which was provided to you by your solicitor on closing, including the actual pen that you used to sign all the documents at the solicitor’s office. You will also include all the original documentation that the mortgage broker provided to Merix. Furthermore, a urine sample from the broker is required as well. That’s why we included the plastic cup. Please note that we have to receive the entire package by the 15th of the month. Once we’re in receipt of the complete package, your actual discharge date we’ll be set. To help you with that process, and to schedule accordingly, our discharge dates are set for next solar eclipse. Should you decide to change your mind, and stay with us, we will gladly forward a new set of instructions”.
In fairness to the alarm company, the customer service rep was very courteous and professional. He was doing his job, and he did it well. The reality is, my experience is happening every day in our industry. Lenders are investing money and resources with respect to their retention departments. Some lenders today require that they have to speak to the borrower prior to processing the discharge request. Trust me, it’s not to say “we’ll miss you Mr. Borrower, and we wish you well”. The lender will do everything possible to retain the borrower, and if reasoning fails…they’ll beg.
Ah, who am I kidding? I’m not removing the security code pad, filling holes in the wall, and removing all the wires around the windows and doors. I’m staying with the same alarm company. Joel, please take me back.
Until next time,
Cheers.Read More Add a Comment
The summer of 2011 will be remembered for the loss, and stepping aside, of two iconic leaders. One dedicated his life to public service, and the other individual is a cultural icon. One lived off the public’s dime, while the other individual created massive wealth for himself and shareholders. Both individuals stepped aside for health reasons. One individual lost his battle with cancer, while the other individual is stepping aside to fight the horrible disease. The name Jack Layton and Steve Jobs are synonymous with their respective brands, the NDP and Apple. Their respective brands today face the difficult task of determining…now what? Who will fill the shoes of these iconic leaders, and what fate awaits the two brands?
Upon learning that Jack Layton had passed, I was struck by the fact that so many people stated that they were shocked to hear the news. If you watched his press conference in July, when he announced that he was stepping aside for health reasons, he looked like a man who has been told he should get his personal affairs in order. Not to sound morbid but I have to wonder if the same doesn’t hold true for Steve Jobs. It’s been widely reported that Jobs has been fighting cancer for last seven years, and his health today required that he step aside as CEO. It was announced that Jobs will take on the role as Chairman of Apple, but that role is diametrically opposed to what Jobs role was as CEO. The Chairman of the board is responsible for corporate governance, and ensuring the company adheres to corporate strategy. The CEO role is responsible for creating the strategy, and being responsible for the overall business. When you’re a CEO, you’re in the middle of all the action. As Chairman your responsibilities are to the board, which customarily meets four times a year. I suspect that neither Layton or Jobs would be happy unless they were in the trenches, making things happen.
Apple has already determined who their next CEO will be, Tim Cook. The NDP will have a leadership convention to determine who will sit on the throne. Both individuals will have an impressive CV, but I can assure that it will never be the same. Quickly, name me two individuals that were a part of Layton’s cabinet, not including his wife? Or who is Tim Cook, and what revolutionary technology was he directly responsible for creating? You’ll have to google the answers. Yet when it comes to Jobs and Layton we can rhyme off a number of their accomplishments. The NDP would never be the official opposition without Layton, and Apple would never have left every other technology company in the rearview mirror without Jobs. There’s plenty of examples where companies have thrived with the departure of an irreplaceable” leaders, Walt Disney, Southwest Airlines, Wal-Mart, IBM etc. But all these companies lost some of their mojo when their iconic leaders were no longer at the helm, and they all spent time in the business wilderness before making a comeback. That’s the problem when brands are associated with one individual. It’s inevitable that brand will take a step back before it finds its footing again. I have a certain amount of empathy for the two individuals who will be saddled with the responsibility of making the electorate and markets forget about the past. Joseph Bower, author of The CEO Within, captured it accurately when he said, “acorns seldom flourish in the shade of a great oak”.
Upon reflection I realized that we have a lot of “great oaks” in our industry. Could that pose a challenge for these companies in the future? Possibly. But the reality is these companies would never have reached the levels of success they are enjoying today without their leadership. The one common trait they have is they are founders of their respective companies. These individuals cast a very wide shadow. I’ll prove it to you. Let’s play name association. I’ll mention four brands in our industry, and what name immediately comes to mind? VERICO, DLC, TMG and MCAP. Without a doubt you said Dreyer, Mauris, Thomas and Swift. I don’t care what kind of credentials one has, filling their shoes would be a difficult task. Business acumen alone will never trump business street smarts, and emotional attachment.
Until next time.
CheersRead More Add a Comment