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

3 Comments 2016 – Here We Go!

Article written by on the 15 Jan 2016 in Canada,Current Events,Merix Financial,Music,Sports

It’s the start of a new year. 

Sure, many were back to work on the 4th of January, but in our industry things get back to “normal” the second week of January.  So, here we are.  Like most people, I believe that what’s ahead will be better than the journey just travelled.  However, to be totally candid, 2015 was a very good year for me.  On all fronts, be it personal or professional.  Having a better year will be a challenge, but that’s life.  You push, you strive, and you never settle.  Frame of mind is critical, and over the last six months I’ve been working on just that.

Not to get all Tony Robbins on you, “awake the giant within…love yourself…blah, blah, blah”, your state of mind plays an import part of all your outcomes.  We all have to fight against a self-fulfilling prophecy.  If you think it sucks, it may not actually suck, but it will eventually suck.  In this day and age it can be challenge to stay positive.  We are constantly bombarded with predictions of doom and gloom.  Take this week for an example, the Canadian dollar dipped below 70 cents U.S., and a very respected economist is predicting it could drop to 59 cents U.S.  And as every info-commercial says, “but wait, there’s more”.  It’s now being suggested that oil could drop to $20 USD a barrel.  All this in the second week of January.  So, how does one pushback against all the white noise?

Here’s what I did.  Firstly, I was finally honest with myself, and I admitted that I was an information and news junkie.  I became obsessed, and needed my daily fix of bad news.  Trust me; it’s not hard to find bad news.  In today’s world it’s everywhere.  It takes a lot more work today to dodge the bad news assault.  Given the reality that we all live in an information world, I came to the conclusion that I had to change my information gathering habits. So no more Fox News, no CNN, and no MSNBC.  I would actually turn to MSNBC, knowing full well that within minutes I would want to throw something at the screen.   Like I said, I was addicted.  Here’s another thing, no more talk radio in the car.  Doesn’t matter if it’s sports or news.  I came to the conclusions that on too many occasions I would arrive at work with a less than pleasant disposition.  Why?  Because I invited mindless babbling into my car, which more often than not would just piss me off.  So things had to change.  There’s no excuse for waltzing through life being willfully ignorant, but given that news is readily available everywhere, I decided that I would control when and where I received my news.  The first real sign that my new approach was working was when someone asked me, “what do you think about David Price signing with the Boston Red Sox, and not the Toronto Blue Jays?”  I was relieved that I didn’t even know it happened. Me, not knowing about something that happened in sports?  That was big!

Here’s what else I did, I replaced information with music.  I know that may sound schmaltzy, but it works.  Truth be told my car played a major role in my musical listening pleasures.  The car has a feature that when you push a button, and say play “artist and song”, it searches the net and finds the song.  It also creates a custom radio station for me.  For example, Rolling Stones Start Me Up radio station.  From there it searches for songs from the same genre.  If I don’t like the song it found, I press next.  The cool thing about this is that it’s taken me out of my 70’s and 80’s musical time machine.  I didn’t know there were so many new artists out there, well, at least new to me.   Bands like O.A.R., James Morrison (not the old guy who sings like he’s got a mouth full of marbles) and Augustana.  Really talented bands and I love the fact that our 14 year old is shocked that I know who they are. 

This may not work for everyone, but I find that I’m in a better mood more often because I’m listening to more music, and not mindless chatter.  I still get my fill of information, but in a much more condensed fashion. More importantly, I decide when I’m ready for the info download.  My new approach doesn’t change the facts, and what’s happening around me.  But it will no longer control me.  Based on what’s happening in the real world, and how the year is starting off, I got my music cranked.  I also customized a new radio station in my car, David Bowie Ashes to Ashes.  Seemed appropriate.

Until next time.

Cheers!

 

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0 Comments World Business Forum in NYC

Article written by on the 06 Nov 2015 in Merix Financial,World Business Forum

One of my highlights of the year takes place next week. We have the privilege of hosting our top supporters at the World Business Forum in New York City.  This is will be the third year in a row that MERIX along with a number of our loyal supporters, gather to listen to successful people speak of their personal and business knowledge. My experience at this event is that there is always a “ah-ha” moment for me.  There’s always a pearl that either provides me with clarity on a matter that I have struggled to properly articulate or a viewpoint that I never considered before. It’s funny what happens when you allow yourself to be a sponge and enjoy the process of being mentally stimulated.

After the first year of hosting our loyal supporters at this event, we surveyed them to gauge their satisfaction and value of attending. One of the questions we asked was, and I’m paraphrasing, “would you like MERIX to change events and location for their recognition awards trip?” The answer was a resounding NO! We were blown away by the response, but in retrospect we shouldn’t have been. For over a decade, Merix has gone to great efforts to establish that it is not the “party” brand. There’s nothing wrong that and I’m not passing judgement on what others do. It’s just not us. MERIX has always held onto the belief that the greatest gift we can give to our supporters is the gift of knowledge. Therefore, everything we do is based on that principal. This mind set clearly appeals to a number of our supporters, and they dispel the old theory that opposites attract. (more…)

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2 Comments Trailer Fees: Defending the Obvious

Article written by on the 19 Jun 2015 in Merix Financial

Over the last few weeks there’s been chatter in the industry about a lender in the mortgage space deciding to no longer offer trailer fees. The lender in question articulated their rationale for doing so, and it’s not for me to question their decision or pass judgement. Over the last two weeks I’ve been asked the following two questions, on a number of occasions.  Firstly, what do I think about their decision? Secondly, are we contemplating the same?  The answer to the first question is “Interesting, but I don’t really care”.  The answer the second question, “Absolutely not”.

The notion that Merix might consider revisiting its core value proposition, and no longer offer trailer fees to mortgage brokers, would only come to pass if Merix decided to rip the soul out of the company. Trailer fees are a part of the Merix DNA.  Trailer fees are what set Merix apart from its competitors. Merix is the pioneer of trailer fees. We can debate the economic merits of trailer fees versus being paid up front. But one thing that is not up for debate is the commitment Merix has to trailer fees. I’m not one to say “never”, but as I sit here today, in the role that I occupy, trailers are here to stay. (more…)

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0 Comments Alive & Well!

Article written by on the 29 May 2015 in Business,Customer Service,Merix Financial,Mortgage

It’s been a few weeks since my last post and I thought it might be time to at least check in.  It has been rather hectic over the last few weeks.  Upon arriving home from our vacation, we were back on another plane in less than 24 hours for business purposes.  There’s been a lot of hotels, managing dirty laundry on the road and embedding really bad eating habits.  If I’m not careful, I’ll have to change the spelling of my name from Boris, to Borises. 

I headed back to my old stomping grounds this week – Vancouver.  DLC, Dominion Lending Centres, asked me to speak at their Owner’s Conference.  When asked if I would participate, the answer was quick – absolutely!  It’s a wonderful opportunity for me to meet with our customers and garner some insight into the cool and innovative things that DLC is doing.  Gary Mauris, Chris Kayat and Jay Seabrook of DLC have been very supportive of Merix, and if I can make even a small contribution to the success of their conference, I do so with pleasure. 

While in Vancouver, I was also pleased to be able to attend the 25th Anniversary Celebration of TMG, The Mortgage Group.  Wow!  I can’t believe how quickly time flies!  This is a homecoming of sorts for me.  Many, many moons ago, Grant and Debbie Thomas, Principal Owners of TMG, asked me to join their organization. I worked for Grant and Debbie for a number of years and upon reflection,  my time with TMG played a very important role in my career development and career path. I will be forever grateful for the opportunity they gave me and even more grateful for the enduring friendship which ensued.  Congratulations on your 25th Anniversary milestone!

Until next time.

Cheers,

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0 Comments Talent Is Overrated

Article written by on the 10 Apr 2015 in Book Review,Business,Merix Financial,Sports,World Events

That’s the title of a book I came across while wandering around an airport a few years ago.  The title of the book was such a contradiction of my own personal belief that I was left with no choice but to pick up the book and read the overview inside the book jacket.  I’m not sure if the author, Geoff Colvin, came up with the tittle or not.  Whoever it was, kudos.  It made me pick up the book, and eventually buy it.  It’s an interesting and fairly simple read.  The book is based on research, and Colvin’s interpretation of the data.  His findings and conclusions are based on empirical data, and there is not a single suggestion that to be great at what you do is easy.  On the contrary, Colvin concludes that to be great requires painstaking work and dedication. 

 The reason the book came to mind was because of the Masters Golf Tournament.  Golf enthusiasts know that the Masters is being played this weekend, actually, Thursday through Sunday.  The Masters is a unique tournament.  Its mystique is unparalleled.    Augusta National, where the Masters is played, is sacred soil for golfers.  Golfers would pay a “stupid” sum of money for the privilege of playing that course, just once in a lifetime.  It would be the ultimate bucket list experience.  I’ve had the privilege of attending the Master’s on a few occasions.  The first time I walked on the grounds I was mesmerized.   It was one of those rare moments where you can say the experience was better than what you anticipated it would be.  So, what does this have to do with a book entitled Talent Is Overrated?  The author dedicated a chapter to Tiger Woods, who just happens to be playing at this year’s Masters golf tournament.

Tiger Woods is one of those rare athletes who transcends a sport.  People who don’t even like golf know who Tiger Woods is.  He is one of the most recognizable athletes in the world.  Many people adore him, and many people dislike him.  But there’s no denying that everyone has heard of him, and can recognize Tiger Woods.    That’s a result of being a generational athlete, who is responsible for a transformational change of a sport.  Some know him more for his personal shortcomings, which I could care less about, but everyone knows him because he was that damn good at his chosen profession.  Colvin posed the question, “why was Tiger Woods that good?”  Is it a God given talent?  Does he possess a golf gene that no others have?  How many times have we explained extraordinary results by simply  saying, “he/she was born that way”.  Colvin debunks that myth, and I think he’s on to something.

SPOILER ALERT –  I’m going to share some of his findings so stop reading if you want to pick up the book and be surprised.  Tiger Woods was programmed to be a golfer, specifically by his father.  Earl Woods, Tigers father, served in the military.  He did two tours in Vietnam, the second tour as a member of the United States Army Special Forces.  In other words, a bad ass you didn’t want to mess with.  He knew all about structure and discipline.  He also had a teaching background.  His background was the perfect for molding and programming his son to become one of the greatest golfers of all time.  Example, when Tiger was an infant, his father would take him into the garage, put him in a high chair, and make him watch his golf swing for hours on end.  Tiger’s father loved golf, and he was determined to make his son love the game even more.  At four years of age Tiger and his father appeared on the Mike Douglas Show, a well-known TV Talk Show back in the day, to demonstrate his golfing prowess at such an early age.  Tiger’s entire life was golf and school. Apparently the focus on education was his mother’s doing.  Tiger was programmed to think, eat, drink and practice golf.  Thousands and thousands of hours dedicated to hitting a little white ball.  The dedication to practice, to sacrifice “normal” child experiences, created a golfing virtuoso.   So is Tiger’s mastery of the sport nature or nurture?  After reading Talent Is Overrated, I lean more towards nurture.

Everyone knows about Tiger’s personal challenges.  Golf fans know that Tiger’s body is breaking down, and his age is becoming a factor.  The hundreds of thousands of violent swings, which is the only I can describe Tiger’s golf swing, has to eventually take a toll.  The golf world so badly wants Tiger to be Tiger of old.  Everyone was surprised to see Tiger embracing other golfers  on the practice range at this year’s Masters.  Tiger joking around with the media, spending time with his children.  Everyone is saying it’s a new Tiger Woods.  The Tiger of old had little time for comradery, kibitzing with the press, and family was used as a prop.  Can he ever win again with this new found attitude?  I think it might be a matter of too little, too late.    As the old saying goes, “practice makes perfect”.  But perfect has a price. 

Until Next Time.

Cheers,

 

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1 Comments Bright Lights

Article written by on the 10 Oct 2014 in Business,Canada,Current Events,Merix Financial,New York City,US Politics,World Business Forum,World Events

Just coming back from New York, and I’ll spare you the cliché.  New York – bright lights, the city that never sleeps, blah, blah.  All true, but the bright lights I’m referring to is a select group of loyal supporters of Merix Financial.  We  had the pleasure of hosting a number of mortgage brokers in New York to attend the World Business Forum.  The event is held over  two days and attendees at the conference are leaders and executives from around the world.  The lineup of speakers have diverse backgrounds and experiences.  It’s the diversity of the speakers which provoke thought and critical thinking.  The two day event allowed all of us to exit the echo chamber that we all find ourselves occupying.  That is a critical element of professional development.  Thought provocation forces you out of your comfort zone.

Our invited guests embraced the opportunity to listen and learn from speakers whose subject matter expertise may have appeared to have only a subtle correlation to their daily actives.  But, they came open minded and prepared to see where the experience takes them.  I got a big kick watching our guests as the event evolved.  Here was a small group of people who for the most part were strangers to each other or know by name only.  However, in a short period of time small micro groups were formed to talk about issues that each individual faces each and every day at work.  It’s remarkable how quickly trust was built among the group, and it was a safe environment to say “I got a work problem, and I don’t have an answer”. Assistance and suggestions from peers was immediate, and no one held back for competitive reasons.  I can’t tell you how cool it is to watch a team come together. Make no mistake, this is a team.  As of today they know they can pick up the phone and reach out to one of their peers from across the country to help them solve a problem.  Sometimes business can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be lonely.

In my humble estimation, the event was a success, and here’s why.  First and foremost, our guests wanted to be there.  That was demonstrated by their support of Merix to ensure they were invited. Also, our guests are all focused on building a business, and not just a job. That’s an important distinction. Secondly, Merix set the right expectations.  It was learning first, party second.  Don’t get me wrong, there was time to have fun.  Like the night we all went to Madison Square Gardens for a Fleetwood Mac concert.  Our seats we on the floors and we were swept up by the music and the New York audience.  Even though there was bit of a “generational” gap for some of our guests, all danced, had a few libations, and allowed themselves to be swept up by the event and the masses.  But come 8:30 am the next morning, all were ready to begin a new day.

An extraordinary amount of time and effort is put into planning one of these events.  I can never really be sure if our guests will find a benefit in attending, while leaving their business for a few days.  After the wrap up dinner we hosted on the final night, one of our guests sat next to me and gave me a book.  She wanted me to have the book because she thought I would enjoy the read.  She mentioned that she wrote a note on the inside of the cover but asked me not to read it at the table.  She said she didn’t want to become emotional.  I smiled and said I would respect her wishes.  After three hours of the book being by my side, I finally made it back to my hotel and I read her note on the inside of the cover.  It was heartfelt, genuine and so sincere.  It was right then that I knew the effort in putting this event together was worth it.

So to Gerry, Tim, Scott, Shawn, Karen, Richard, Brenda, Tracey, Sandy, Paul, Sarah, and Elisseos, if you don’t mind…let’s do it again.

Until next time.

Cheers,

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0 Comments MERIX Sales Rally – Professional Development

Article written by on the 30 Sep 2014 in Business,Merix Financial

At MERIX we always try to come up with creative ways to enhance our employee’s professional development.  We believe that our employees can learn from each other. But it’s also important not to fall into the echo chamber trap. External experiences and business models are great way to learn. It’s for that reason we chose to hold the MERIX Sales and Planning Session this year at Disney, in Orlando Florida.

While Disney may seem like an unusual place to take employees for personal development and business planning, I beg to differ. I can’t think of any organization which is more committed to the customer experience than Disney. Their business purpose is to create happiness. That’s not my choice of words but rather Disney’s. As a group we learned about Disney’s business purpose when we attended a full day training course facilitated by Disney, I am always eager to learn from others, and we can all learn from some of Disney’s business practices. Their attention to detail and commitment to “creating happiness” is remarkable. They live it, they breath it, they believe it. Maybe I’ll share some of my learning’s in future blogs.

The second reason I didn’t think it was unusual to come Disney is because I believe learning should be fun. It’s rare for adults to go to Disney without children in tow. Every once in a while it’s fun for adults to be kids again. So go on Space Mountain as many times as you like..eat all the cotton candy or gigantic turkey legs you want…beam when getting your picture taken with Mickey or Snow White.  Reality waits when we get home.

I want to thank Genworth Financial and D+H for sharing and being a part of our event at Disney.  Creating positive employee memories is a unique challenge. Having Mickey and Minnie join us at our welcome reception, followed by two days of learning, and ending with a day at the theme park, well, we just may have overcome the challenge.

 Until next time,

 Cheers.


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2 Comments Cranial Cramps

Article written by on the 05 Sep 2014 in Book Review,Business,Current Events,Merix Financial

The week after Labour Day weekend is not unlike the first week after New Year’s.  It is almost like play time is over, and it’s time to get back to work.  Just driving into work on Tuesday I could feel a difference.  Traffic is always brutal in Toronto, so using traffic as any sort of bench mark is futile.  It’s hard to pinpoint or accurately describe what it is, and without sounding esoteric, there’s an energy level that just seems to be heightened.  Not something you can see, but it’s something you can feel. One place where the heightened energy level manifests itself is between the ears.  The brain goes back to work. 

A great way for me to exercise a lethargic brain is to start reading,  Not just skimming, but actually taking the time to comprehend what’s written.  At times that can be painful.  As an example I’m reading a book now that will probably take me another two years to finish.  The book in question? “War and Peace.”  My God it is a difficult read!  The list of characters is endless, and trying to remember them all is next to impossible.  It doesn’t help that I pick up the book every three months, and plow through another 100 pages.  The main characters are Bezukhov, Bolonsky, Rostova, and the  Kurigan clan, more specifically Natasha and Nikola.  The secondary characters are but a mere 1,000, well, it seems that way to me.  And there’s not a “Smith” in the bunch. So why am I reading” War and Peace?”  Because it’s a challenge, and I can say to myself I finished reading a book which is considered a literary classic.

If you’re looking for a good read, and I can assure you that it’s a quick read, I would recommend the book “David and Goliath”, by Malcolm Gladwell.  I came across the book courtesy of an inspiring entrepreneur,  Sarah Schiess.  Ms. Schiess  works and resides in Saskatchewan, and from my vantage point I see great things for her in the future.  To Sarah, thank you for your thoughtfulness, and for sharing the gift of knowledge.  I won’t get into the details of the book, suffice to say that after reading the book you will challenge conventional wisdom and thinking.  Gladwell is a renowned author, and his books are worth the investment.  Below is a review of the book I found on-line.  A tad wordy, but very well written.

Review: Malcom and Goliath

Until next time.

Cheers,

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0 Comments Interpreting The Numbers

Article written by on the 16 May 2014 in Business,Canada,Current Events,Economy,Merix Financial,US Politics,World Events

Is the glass half full or half empty?  Are the measures that we’re taken to modify the real estate market balanced or have policy makers over reached?  Numbers are supposed to be black and white.  Shades of grey come into play depending on the side of the argument you’re on.

The Canadian Real Estate Association, (CREA) released data this week which will make all sides of the Canadian real estate market argument happy.  Example, according to the MLS Home Price Index, home prices have increased by 7.6% from a year ago.  Now if you take Vancouver and Toronto out of the equation, the increase was 4.6% on a year over year basis.  So are we on the cusp of a potential real estate bubble or is it simple supply side economics?  The number of homes sold came in slightly lower than a year ago.  So is demand outpacing supply, causing prices to increase?  And oh my god, condo sales increased in Toronto as well. Red Rover, Red Rover, Doom Sayers come on over.  There’s a little something for everyone. The teeth nashers and those predicting Armageddon are fist bumping each other.  Others, justifiably so, are saying it’s a balanced market.  Should the price of a real estate never rise? If that we’re the case we would all be squatters, living in tents.  The commentators I love are the ones that sit firmly on the fence.  An economist for one major bank said their analysis suggests that we all experience a 10% decrease in home values, and there could be further risk if sales activity was to increase. They were so concerned with the “risk” that they matched the 2.99% five year rate that one of their competitors came out with.  That fence post must really be uncomfortable to sit on.

Sifting through all the commentary can be confusing, and let’s be honest, depending on the amount of skin you have in the game will influence the argument and opinion you support.  To combat human nature it’s important to seek contrary opinions, and I force myself do that, almost daily.  It takes some effort to find commentary which is not self-serving, like those selling newspapers, hedge funds that are shorting the Canadian economy or politicians playing politics.  Here’s a couple names to look out for when you want broader viewpoint, economists Nouriel Roubini and David Rosenberg.  What’s their bona fide? They predicted the financial collapse of 2008. So what are they saying today?  According to Rosenberg, “Nattering nabobs of negativity – stop knocking yourself out. First, there are a host of reasons why I see inflation rising moderately, and the wage process is but one of them. There is a very interesting development taking place that is not garnering a lot of attention. The U.S. commercial banks are loosening their purse strings. As for the U.S. economy, it is looking as though Q2 real GDP growth will come in close to a 4% annual rate. Why I turned bullish on the U.S. consumer.”  Clearly he’s refereeing to the U.S. Economy, but like it or not, when America sneezes we look for a tissue.  In good times and bad.

Until next time!

Cheers,

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0 Comments The Importance of the Face-to-Face Meeting

Article written by on the 28 Feb 2014 in Business

I believe if you want to get a reading on the pulse of your business, you do so by sitting across from your customer and have a candid conversation.

I’m a little frazzled as I write this blog.  I’m now waiting to take off for Winnipeg. It was a bit off an adventure making my flight because the airport was jammed packed.  Maybe the number of planes taking off and landing today came as surprise to the folks Toronto’s Pearson International Airport.  Maybe someone should provide this information to the airport in advance because keeping it a secret is not fair to those working at the airport.  The delightful lady checking me on at the Air Canada counter mentioned to me that I was very lucky to make the flight because they were mere moments away to closing the flight.  Maybe I wouldn’t have had to cut it so close if I didn’t have to wait in line long enough to be able to consummate a relationship and actually witness the birth.  Whew, thank god for priority check in.  After asking me three times where I was going I decided to play Pictionary. Out comes a pen and a piece of paper…I drew a picture of Canada…and the Provinces going west…a stick plane…a stick man (that would be me) appearing to be sitting on the plane…and then I pointed to where I was going.  She yelled out, Manitoba!  I touched my nose with my finger to indicate she was right.  I’ll let you guess which I finger I used.

 You know what makes you forget about a crappy experience at Pearson airport?  Going to visit great customers in Winnipeg!  Seriously, this isn’t pandering or blowing smoke.  How can you not marvel and appreciate a community who can deal with the fact that it was colder in parts Manitoba this winter than on Mars.  Not kidding.  Evidently the temps in parts of Manitoba reached minus 45 with the wind-chill this winter – Its  minus 42 on Mars. That’s why they giggle at us Ontario when we say it’s so cold here, like minus a gazillion, which translates to minus 20.  In Manitoba the weather is a “so what”. They deal with it and move on.  Impressively, for a number of years, the broker market in Manitoba has moved forward.  For someone like me, who’s been in this business for a few years, it’s fascinating to watch an emerging broker market in Canada.  The broker space is still fairly new to Manitoba.  One of the things that I am really proud of was we, Merix Financial, were the first lender in the broker space to have boots on the ground in Manitoba on a full-time basis.  The common practice used to be to fly over Manitoba and then pop into Winnipeg once every six weeks.  We recognized that things were changing in Manitoba, and the market warranted a full time presence.  Most of the lenders in the broker space now have followed suit.  Sometimes it’s hard to be humble. 

The purpose of the visit is to sit across the table from some of our customers to get a reading on how we’re doing.  I believe if you want to get a reading on the pulse of your business, you do so by sitting across from your customer and have a candid conversation.  You look them straight in the eye and ask them to tell you the truth.  Surveys are important, and they have value.  But a leader of any organization has to take the time to meet with their loyal customers.  It’s impossible to meet every customer but it’s negligent not to meet any.  I promised myself 2014 was the year of customer engagement for me.  I was going to get my ass out of the office because we were spending too much time having meetings about having meetings.  I instructed my Senior Leadership Team to cut back on their meetings this year, and let’s get out in the field and work on enhancing our employees skill set – let’s find out what our customers are thinking.  I know – a novel concept.  That’s why I’m looking forward to meeting a few of our loyal customers like Buzz Grant, Naseer Chaudhry, Victor Schaefer, Jeff Moore and Jeff Sparrow.  What makes them great customers is that they understand businesses can have a hiccups, that sometimes circumstances are beyond your control, and they don’t flip you for a nickel.  That’s why their opinion matters.

 Until next time,

 Cheers.

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0 Comments New Year – Plan Ahead and Evaluate the Past

Article written by on the 17 Jan 2014 in Business

This is time of year, specifically for companies with a calendar fiscal year end, where housekeeping issues have to be completed.   For most companies it’s the time to close the books on the previous year, and ensure that T’s” are being crossed and the “I’s” are being dotted for the upcoming year.  Try as we might, but we have never been able to fully complete our budget, our plan, and our strategy prior to the New Year.  Revisions are required, and taking into account seasonality, mid-January is the time where we can exhale, for about a nanosecond.  Once everything is finalized, then the heavy lifting begins.

One thing that you cannot plan for is luck, good or bad, karma, fate, good fortunate or misfortune.  Irrespective of the comprehensive analysis, the business plan and budget, the organization goes about its business knowing that variables beyond your direct control will determine if you had a good year or not.  Luck plays a part in success, and anyone who suggests otherwise, well, eventually the hubris will catch up to them.

But just for a moment imagine if you could stack the deck in your favour to ensure you had a good year.  I’m talking about results beyond your ability or intellectual capacity to achieve your desired results.  I think we would all jump at the opportunity to be able have that type of influence. That’s why it is difficult for me to criticize the actions of the government when the do exactly that.

Loonie

Take the performance of our Loonie.  You’re probably aware the market has taken our Loonie to the woodshed and given it a good whooping.  Is something going on in shadows? According to the Globe, “To some observers, the currency’s recent sharp decline suggests the Bank of Canada is stealthily engineering devaluation – a gift to beleaguered manufacturers, exporters and domestic tourist operators, and a tonic for an economy suddenly grappling with disinflation“.  Poloz has an affinity for manufacturing, his previous gig was CEO/President for Export Development Canada, Carney’s comfort zone one was Bay St., as in mortgages. Is it a coincidence that we’re hearing less about mortgages and more about our dollar, inflation and manufacturing?  You be the judge.

Outlook on Real Estate

As for the real estate sector, some must be very satisfied with most recent trend. Real estate sales in Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver are skewing the numbers.  The reality is that over 60% of Canadian market place has seen a drop in the number of homes sold for three consecutive months.  At the highest levels of government, household debt is still being spoken of but in cautious terms.  Here’s what Prime Minister Harper had to say about house hold debt this week, “So look, it’s not a reason to panic; in fact, we’ve actually seen Canadian debt beginning to level off. But we would obviously encourage people to look at their debt levels carefully. Eventually, it may not be for two, three years, but eventually interest rates will start to rise. And Canadians should ask themselves serious questions about if interest rates came up significantly, would I still be able to afford my debt payments?“.  Interest rates will rise in about two to three years?  We should thank the PM for the specificity. I have to assume he’s in the know.  It might be time to dust off the variable mortgage pitch. In my case I may have to alter the distribution of volume between fixed and variable mortgages in our projections.  So maybe I’m farther away than I thought from being able to lock up the 2014 business plan and budget in the corporate vault.

 

One final note about the PM, he really is one of us.  Here’s what he had to say about his own personal mortgage, “in our case, my wife and I have never been big borrowers, but we have borrowed some money in the last few years because of the low rates, but we also know if the rates went up significantly we could still afford to carry that debt”.  It’s heartening that our Prime Minister is so connected to millions of home owners, who did exactly what he did, and just as responsibly.  One last thing about the Prime Ministers mortgage, I wonder if he got in before the changes to amortizations, and did he have to use rental offset to qualify?”.

Until next time

Cheers.

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0 Comments Big Deal: Virtual Currency Changing our Economy

Article written by on the 15 Nov 2013 in Business

The mortgage industry adapted to a form of virtual currency long ago, before we knew what virtual currency was.

I came across an interesting article in the Globe this week about virtual cash, and the possibility that it may get some traction.  The opening sentence in the article was an eye grabber, “Imagine a day when virtual cash gives central banks a run for their money – literally“.  The digital revolution that we’re witnessing, and experiencing first hand, has changed our lives significantly.  The most profound effect is that very impossible seems possible today.  For example, I’m not shocked or surprised that the gatekeepers of all things monetary are worried about competition.

The Bank of Canada just released a paper saying that central banks are unlikely to stand aside and let the new industrialists such as Amazon and Facebook cut into their action.  I’m not going to pretend to understand the nuances and business models of companies such as Bitcoin, a software company who’s niche is virtual currency, but clearly they’ve grabbed the attention of the Bank of Canada, given the fact that they’ve responded by releasing the paper.  The central banks position that is that virtual currency will never become fully convertible into real cash, thus limiting virtual currency to just the internet.  Hm… anyone want to bet against Amazon or Facebook figuring out a way to make it work? 

There isn’t a day that goes that by that I don’t read something about our changing world or economy, and immediately wonder how can this make us obsolete?  Is the thought of virtual currency a threat to our industry?  Don’t think so. Why? Because the mortgage industry is miles ahead in this regard.  A broker, a lender, a lawyer and the borrower never see the product we provide as an industry.  It’s not as if I show up at a brokers office with a wheelbarrow full of cash, our average balance at Merix Financial is just north of $280k, and dump it on the broker’s desk and say, “here you go”. Then the broker wheels it over to the lawyer’s office, and he in turn takes it to the lawyer for the other side, and so on and so forth.  Magically someone along the line gets to actually keep some of the cash, but we never know how the final balance works out.  What an interesting concept.  We sell something you can’t see, and can’t touch.  Can you imagine if we did?  Imagine the cash in the wheelbarrow scenario, after I dump the cash on the brokers desk I say, “I’d like you to count it, and sign off stating all the information you provided is correct”.  And if the borrower happens to be there, we say “take a good look at this pile; this is what you owe me, plus more”.   Thankfully we don’t do business this way, for if we did we would all be curled up in the fetal position, sucking our thumbs, paralyzed with fear.

Virtual currency doesn’t pose a threat to us.  Could it change how we do things?  Possibly, but we long ago adapted to a form of virtual currency, even when we didn’t know what virtual currency was.  If virtual currency becomes the norm it will elicit a collective industry yawn.  Now, what won’t surprise me is if one day we pull out a twenty dollar bill and on the back of the bill is a picture of Mark Zuckerberg.

Until next time,

Cheers.

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