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

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.


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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!


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1 Comments All Tax, All the Time

Article written by on the 02 May 2014 in Canada,Current Events

Well, it certainly feels that way.  The deadline to file with Ottawa is Monday, and if it slipped your mind, go directly to the sin bin and hold your head down in shame.  Oh yeah, you should prepared to pay more in penalties if you’re late.  If you’re hoping the CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) won’t notice if you’ve filed or not, trust me, they’ll notice.   May 5th is the day for you to make good with the government.  If you feel this strange sensation of a number in hands in your pocket, it’s real.  Here in Toronto, we all feel like we’ve been groped this week.

A report was released this week about the impact to the Toronto economy due to implementation of the municipal land transfer tax.  For those of you not aware, real estate purchases in Toronto are subjected to a Provincial Land Transfer Tax, as well as a municipal land transfer tax.  The net result is that anyone buying a home in Toronto, will pay the highest land transfer tax in the country.  A study was commissioned by the Ontario Real Estate Association, and the findings are interesting.  According to the report, if the municipal land transfer tax was eliminated, Toronto could see a $2 billion boost to the local economy, and possibly create 12,000 new jobs.  The municipal land transfer tax came into effect in 2008, remember what happened to the global economy 2008?, and our elected officials at that time thought it would be wise to implement  further financial burden on home buyers.  The new study suggests that the city of Toronto has experienced a decline of 38,000 home sales due to the implementation of the municipal land transfer tax, and a $1.2 billion reduction in GDP.  Of course critics of the study say that the report is self-serving because it was commissioned by the Ontario Real Estate Association.  Okay, let’s assume there was some embellishment, and we cut the number in half.  A $1 billion dollar boost to the economy, and 6,000 new jobs created is not trivial or throw away numbers.  The focus should be on the message, and not the messenger.  If you’re of the mind that this is just a Toronto problem, and too bad for them, you may want to rethink that.  Do you think your municipal politicians will be able to resist the urge to go to the real estate trough and impose their own municipal land transfer tax?  If there’s no real backlash by voters in Toronto, and the municipal land transfer tax just slowly becomes the cost of doing business, why shouldn’t your municipal council get some?   If you think it could never happen, I admire your blind faith.  Speaking of faith, I have zero in our current mayor.  It’s not because of the crack smoking, drunken stupors and all round buffoonery.  Who amongst us hasn’t sinned?  I can forgive, but what I can’t forgive is that our rehabbing mayor promised to do away with the municipal land transfer tax, and he lied. Hey, it’s one thing to lie about smoking crack, but when you promised that we could keep more of hard earned money, and you lie, now you’ve gone too far.  Unlike the mayor, the vast majority of Torontonians would invest the extra money in our children’s education, home renovations, vacations and maybe something really outrageous, like increasing their down payment on a home purchase. 

 In fairness to our esteemed municipal politicians, the ability to impose the municipal land transfer tax was granted by the Provincial Liberal’s magic wand.  Granting permission is in keeping with their modus operandi.  Like the new Provincial budget they tabled this week.  The numbers are mind-boggling, and there’s no point getting into the details because it will probably never pass, and the voters in Ontario will be heading to the polls again.  However, the budget does give us a glimpse of the Liberal’s campaign platform.  If they’re looking for a campaign slogan, I can simplify it for them. “Vote Liberal, we’ll spend and tax more”.  It’s kind of catchy.  If you’re bored this weekend, and you feel like doing a slow burn, click on the link to the Fraser Institute Personal Tax Freedom Day Calculator.  It calculates when you stop working for the government, and you start keeping your hard earned dollars.  For all of in Canada, it’s sometime in June, your personal income and the province you reside in determines the actual day.  Wait, there’s one exception, Alberta.  Albertan’s personal tax freedom day falls in May.  I love Alberta, and I have thou$ands of reasons why.

Until Next Time,



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3 Comments Jim Flaherty – A Public Servant Who Actually Served

Article written by on the 11 Apr 2014 in Canada,Current Events

I think most of we’re shocked and surprised to hear about the passing of former Finance Minister, Jim Flaherty.  There was speculation he decided to leave the Finance Department for health reasons, he was afflicted by a rare skin disease.  He denied the claims, and simply said that it was time to pursue opportunities in the private sector.  Today, his reason for leaving and stepping aside is moot, and it’s sad he didn’t have an opportunity to share moments with his family, when they were so close to getting him back.

I think it’s safe to say the late Jim Flaherty made many sacrifices.  Being Finance Minister is not a part-time job.  When you’re responsible for managing the country’s economy and budget, you can probably say goodbye to the nine to five work days.  His efforts and dedication to public service will shape his legacy.  We can quibble about all the changes to mortgage rules under his stewardship, but I think we are all better off today because of his steady hand while steering us through the global financial crisis.  In the grand scheme of things our economy bounced back rather smoothly after 2008; Canada was able to avoid much of the pain other economies endured.  That did not happen by accident. 

 I had the opportunity to meet with Mr. Flaherty on a number of occasions.  I always found him to be engaging and attentive.  He reached out to many business sectors because he wanted to hear firsthand what the needs of the day were. He reached out to our industry and learned the importance of the mortgage broker industry.  He took the time to meet with stakeholders in our industry when it would have been easy for him to say no need, I know better.  He allowed our voice to be heard, and he appreciated the contribution we make to home ownership in Canada.  His approach was a first for our industry, and for that we should all be grateful.  I know I am.

 God speed.


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0 Comments The Winter That Will Never End

Article written by on the 14 Mar 2014 in Canada,Personal,Travel

It seems that everyone I talk to is suffering from winter fatigue, and looking for a respite.

Well, it sure as hell feels like that.  Canadians are known for their climate infatuation, and we spend a great deal of time talking about the weather.  “Is it hot/cold enough for you” etc.  Somehow, some way…it always gets back to the weather.

But this year, even the most pragmatic among us, those people who are always reminding you that extreme weather conditions are a part of living in this country, are spending time trying to book a vacation and escape.  It seems that everyone I talk to is suffering from winter fatigue, and looking for a respite.

I was talking to my travel agent this week and she indicated that she’s swamped.  With every new blast of sub-zero temperatures, with predictions of yet another snow storm, her phone ends up ringing off to hook because people want out.  It will be interesting to see the stats provided by the tourist bureaus in California, Arizona and Florida with respect to Canadians vacationing in their states this year.  Throw in Mexico and the Caribbean, and I would be willing to wager there’s a significant spike this year of Canadians looking for relief in warmer climates. This winter has been been brutal!

It’s March break in Ontario, and like thousands of others, we got out of Dodge for the week and headed to Florida.  Even with all its quirks and peculiarities, Florida is a great place to visit.  Sunshine, warmth, and all the amenities of home. What’s not to like?  Okay, so their beer is nothing more than flavored water, but it’s an easy hardship to put up with. If it comes down to shoveling the driveway, scraping ice of the car windshield, putting on twelve layers of clothing to go out and get a coffee, I’ll gladly inhale another American Coors Light…it’s refreshing and yummy.

Hopefully we’re in the last stages of the winter from hell. That’s a bit of oxymoron. If you’ve had the chance to get away,  good.  If you haven’t, what are you waiting for?  One final note, for all those who live in Ontario, and complain about the heat and humidity in the summer, remember: February is just around the corner.

Until next time


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0 Comments Federal Budget

Article written by on the 14 Feb 2014 in Canada

To the governments credit, they have invested time to learn about the “smaller” players in the financial space, and have committed to learn more about their needs and to balance the playing field.

The 2014 budget is a prologue to what really matters to the Fed’s – the 2015 Federal Budget.  Canadians are about 15 months away from the next federal election. Time flies when you’re having fun, and the 2015 budget will lay the groundwork for the next campaign.  When the next budget comes down we will all hear about a surplus rather than the deficit.  There will be a lot of chest bumping among the Conservatives about the estimated $6 billion surplus in 2015/2016, and over $10 billion by 2018/2019.  The message will be clear, “we’re the fiscally responsible ones, and the only party qualified to justify over taxation”. Maybe they’ll omit that last part, but please, I wish they would stop making it sound like the government is a corporation that went and earned a $6 billion profit… I feel better now.

Image Source: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean KilpatrickIf

The Federal Budget is first and foremost, politics.  It’s an extension of ideology, and in an election year, a party platform.  Early in a mandate, the governing party may deviate to do what’s right.  But the last budget going into an election year is about drawing lines in the sand, and establishing the battle ground.  The Federal Budget preceding the budget that really matters? Yawn. In that regard the 2014 budget did not disappoint.

There are some elements of the budget which we have all come to expect, especially if the government is looking for cover – example, smokers.  I don’t know why the government doesn’t amend our constitution that smokers must pay more, every year.  Smokers will now pay 24% more in taxes for a carton of cigarettes.  Another automatic is to take away some money from the evil wealthy people.   Loopholes are now plugged for wealthy Canadians and their family trusts.  Those are two safe groups to go after, and let’s face it, when was the last time you saw a headline which read, “Poor Smokers” or “Government takes too much from the wealthy?”  Nice and safe.

It was encouraging to hear comments made by the Minister of Finance about smaller banks and monolines in Canada.  To the governments credit they have invested time to learn about the “smaller” players in the financial space, and have committed to learn more about their needs and to balance the playing field. How that all shakes out? Time we’ll tell, but at least they know we’re here and we provide consumers choice, beyond the big banks.

For now, it’s steady as she goes, and we only have 364 more sleeps before we get a budget that we can sink our teeth into.  To help us pass the time we can visit the brewer’s retail and liquor store.  The government is removing some of the red tape to make it easier for more brands of beer to come to market.  This should help some of the smaller brewers in this country.  Maybe the Fed’s jumped the gun on this one and they should have waited until next year.  Think of the campaign slogan, “More Beer”…Um, nice and yummy.

Until next time,



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1 Comments Ford Nation: Liar, Liar pants on fire

Article written by on the 08 Nov 2013 in Canada,Current Events

And in the case of  Toronto’s Mayor, Rob Ford, we’re talking major inferno. I had no intention in commenting on the allegations, and now admission that has dogged the Mayor, and captured the imagination of the local populace and comedians worldwide.  The question of “did he or did he not” rendered every other issue irrelevant.  Now we all know.

Full disclosure, I supported Rob Ford, and encouraged family and friends to do the same.  Finally, there was a candidate I could support for policy reasons rather than packaging.  Let’s face it, central casting would never send a Rob Ford look alike to a movie set to play a mayor in a movie, Toronto voters learned a valuable lesson on voting for packaging rather than results (see Toronto’s previous mayor).  So, finally there was a candidate that spoke to the silent majority and who appeared not to be a part of the establishment and intelligentsia.  It worked; Ford got elected by a rather large margin. But his actions today amount to flipping the bird to all his supporters, including me.

From first day of the Ford administration, certain media outlets were determined to bring down the mayor.  Some of the media coverage was repugnant, they spoke in code.  They didn’t believe he looked the part, and they were vicious in their criticism.  But at the end of the day that wasn’t the reason for Fords eventual demise.  Was it because he FINALLY admitted to smoking crack? Don’t think so, and I’m basing that on the media coverage of other well know political drug users. Not much has been written about President Obama’s admission that he used cocaine while in college.  I guess the media gets a pass on that one because Obama’s cocaine use was in the past and not while in office.  Okay, what about the present?  What about Liberal Leader, Justin Trudeau, who admitted to sparking up and enjoying the odd joint while sitting as a member of parliament?  Where was the moral indignation from the press?  I don’t believe that Canada has legalized marijuana, yet. The press’s hypocrisy aside, Rob Ford’s eventual demise is not because of drug use; but the fact that he lied about it.

There are lessons to be learned by the Ford fiasco, like what not to do in a crisis. Ford’s struggle for political survival today can be traced to hubris.  If an individual or a business, believes they’re above the rules and arrogant enough to believe they’re immune from fallout,  might as well start writing their professional obituary.  When Ford stopped listening to his handlers and their recommendations, it was the beginning of the end.  When your inner circle jumps ship because you’re on a path of ruin, and you’re still adamant about doing it your way only, the inevitable results will follow.  In politics and business there’s a play book to follow in times of crisis. In politics when you get caught with your pants down, or in Fords case a crack pipe in his mouth, you follow the tried and true methods.  He holds a press conference, uses his family as props in the in the background, looks straight into the camera and admits he lied, and promises to get help. If he can muster up tears that really works well.  He comes back in sixty days and it’s all behind him, But if you lie about it for months, daring the police to release the video, and you only come clean because you realize there is no out, it’s too late.

My heart goes out to Ford’s family.  They’re the innocent victims in all of this, and I struggle to rationalize why politicians do this to their families. But we’ve seen it before, and we’ll see it again.  Here’s something to ponder, the guy who smoked crack and was inebriated many times while on the clock, brought fiscal responsibility to City Hall, eliminated wasteful spending and ensured there was a budget surplus.  His predecessor other hand had the right look and pedigree, nearly drove Toronto into bankruptcy.  Go figure.

Until next time,



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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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2 Comments Gone Fishing

Article written by on the 02 Aug 2013 in Canada,Family,Personal,Travel

Well, not really. I think I would rather watch eight hours of Degrassi reruns in a row than go fishing. My family, friends and acquaintances who enjoy fishing are rolling their eyes right now and thinking: “this coming from a guy who spends hour after hour trying to get a little white ball to fall into a ridiculously small hole. And all the while offering profanity-laced commentary.” To that I say, whatever! My aversion to fishing is that it’s too exhausting. You’ve got to cast the line, open a beer and take a seat. Whew! I’m fatigued just thinking about it.

 Not many can afford to drop $825 worth of coffee on total strangers but one cup of coffee every now and then? I think so. 

All kidding aside, I’m off for a family vacation for the next couple of weeks and I actually might go deep sea fishing. We’ll see. Therefore, blog posts may come sporadically or not at all over the next couple of weeks. It will all depend on whether something funny as hell happens while we’re on vacation. Which usually happens in our family.

I thought a fitting way to end the week was to comment on a recent phenomenon happening here in Ontario. Not sure if it’s making its way to other parts of the country but I hope it does. It’s about random acts of kindness and by all accounts, it appears to have started in Ottawa. For some reason it all centers around coffee. Last week a man walks into a Tim Horton’s coffee shop in Toronto and asks the cashier how much would it cost to buy 500 medium cups of coffee. The response was $825. He pulls out his wallet, plunks down $825 and says “I’m buying the next 500 cups of coffee.” He then walks out of the coffee shop without giving his name and he didn’t bother to wait for the people standing in line behind him to say thank you.

More of these stories are coming to light and I think it’s so cool. Not many can afford to drop $825 worth of coffee on total strangers but one cup of coffee every now and then? I think so. But what is really cool is how these random acts of kindness generate stories. The recipients of the free coffee will tell at least one person about what happened to them that day. How many of us can say that we did something so selfless and kind that at least 1000 people are talking about it? So I tried it this morning, on a very small scale. Every street in downtown Toronto is being dug up, resulting in brutal traffic congestion. I work at the corner of Bay and Richmond and a portion of Richmond is closed due to road work. There are two police officers monitoring the intersection and as I walked by them today I said, “gent’s, I’m just on my way to Tim’s, can I get you a coffee?” The police officers were most gracious but declined. And I walked away feeling a little better because I made the gesture and I also know that I just created 4 new stories about simple kindness.

Until next time,


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0 Comments I Don’t Want To Jinx It

Article written by on the 31 Jul 2013 in Canada,Economy,Ontario

Do my eyes deceive me? Is there a plethora of solid economic news? Let’s see, there aren’t any new weather disasters or heat waves to be concerned about which would impact housing. Well, that’s a start. Add that to some positive economic news and I’m almost afraid to continue on with the blog. What the hell, I’ll tempt fate. There’s some positive news coming out of Canada and also for our neighbors south of the 49th parallel.

Dear America, “spend for the love of your country and your most appreciative neighbors to the north.”

The results of the most recent Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan U.S. Consumer Sentiment Index has reached the highest level since 2007. Given what happened in 2008, the near collapse of the global economy, these results are significant. The strength and weakness of the U.S. economy is dependent on consumer spending. After 2008, American consumers did something awful – they stopped spending and started to save. Their levels of individual savings reached record highs, and it was a convenient statistic for doomsayers in this country to point too. The soapbox rhetoric sounded something like this: “look how responsible the Americans have become. We should learn from them.” Saving money is wise but we have also learned that if the U.S. consumer doesn’t spend, we feel it. Like right in the derriere. Our economies are intertwined so any good news south of the boarder, as it relates to consumer spending, is good news for us. We have lots to sell them and with the falling loonie our products and services are more affordable. So come on American consumers, be patriotic. Dip into your savings accounts and don’t be embarrassed about having a larger credit card balance. Spend for the love of your country and your most appreciative neighbors to the north.

The good news here at home is the average Canadian net worth is on the rise. For the first time ever we’ve topped the $400,000 barrier. Okay, most of that is real estate equity but I don’t think we should have to apologize for that. Having a balanced portfolio mitigates risk, but wealth is wealth. Kudos to the people living in Ontario. The province which proudly claims that it’s “Yours to Discover” has discovered that paying down debt is not a bad thing. Ontario was the only province to lower non-mortgage debt, resulting in Ontario having the largest percentage increase in average net worth in the country. Saskatchewan is climbing the net worth charts given their newfound riches, due in large part to natural resources and real estate value. B.C. still holds the distinction of having the highest net worth at $662k. When it comes to B.C. we all know that if you own a home, you’re a millionaire. Unfortunately, to realize any gain, British Columbians would have to sell their home and move to Nunavut. Sure, the average temperature in Nunavut in January is -48, but you would have all that cash to throw into the fireplace to keep yourself warm.

All in all some good news across the country. I don’t want to push the “good news” stories too far. The law of averages dictates restraint. I may have gone too far already. So I’ll apologize in advance if a meteor hit’s the earth (the apology only applies if the meteor actually lands in Canada) and ruins everyone’s week.

Until next time,


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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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