O'Leary keynote axed

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Brokers have spoken, and now CAAMP has listened, announcing Kevin O'Leary has withdrawn plans to address the Mortgage Forum.

"Kevin O'Leary was contracted last spring to speak at Mortgage Forum 2012 and recently announced the launch of O'Leary Mortgages," writes CAAMP in a release issued late Tuesday and following a MortgageBrokerNews.ca article outlining the depth of broker opposition to his planned appearance."It has been CAAMP's long standing policy that industry participants not be featured as keynote speakers. Kevin O'Leary is mindful of the situation and has withdrawn from participating in Mortgage Forum 2012."

CAAMP hasn't confirmed details about what if any speaking fees he will collect.

The move comes after Dominion Lending Centres told MortgageBrokerNews.ca that it had cancelled plans to sponsor the Dragon's session as well as a meet-and-greet with DLC professionals.

“Why would I spend $50K to sponsor any competitor, especially one who has little respect and appreciation for the commitment, expertise and great work that mortgage professionals do," said Gary Mauris Monday and on the heels of last week’s MortgageBrokerNews.ca story outlining O’Leary’s model. “We have notified CAAMP that we will not be participating in the sponsorship of Mr. O'Leary."

A torrent of broker comments followed on MortgageBrokerNews.ca, critical of CAAMP and O'Leary.

As MortgageBrokerNews.ca was the first to report last week, O’Leary plans to enter Ontario’s faltering mortgage industry as a direct-to-consumer originator, with his “O’Leary mortgages” focused on five-year loans. He will bypass brokers, although will use one of the channel’s biggest mortgage servicing companies to underwrite and service those mortgages.

CAAMP has now found a replacement for the venture capitalist.

"We are excited to announce that David Baxter, Demographer, Economist and Futurist will be joining the speaker lineup at Mortgage Forum 2012," reads the release. "David will be speaking on Monday at 2:30 pm, the original time slot for Kevin O'Leary."

Still, some mortgage professionals expressed frustration with the association's slow response to the O'Leary conflict of interest.

"They should have moved last week to oust him," wrote one MortgageBrokerNews.ca reader.
  • Joe the broker on 21/11/2012 10:08:20 AM

    Praise the Lord!

  • whatcha talkin bout willis on 21/11/2012 10:21:37 AM

    Well Done!!!

  • Centum on 21/11/2012 10:24:23 AM

    It would have been very disrepectful to all CAAMP members, I personally feel that there is more to this between the two

  • Kim D. on 21/11/2012 10:24:39 AM

    A few years ago, I had the displeasure of sitting through an MBABC conference luncheon that DLC sponsored. Prior to eating lunch, we had to sit though a tasteless advertizement for DLC stating why they were better than all the rest of our Brokerages. I don't understand why it was ok for DLC to promote their business at a mortgage conference, yet DLC is threatened by O'Leary promoting his? We don't even know what his business is all about, yet the rumours are flying.

  • Peter P on 21/11/2012 10:49:41 AM

    Ya Kim I can't imagine a company spending $50k to sponsor a guest speaker for a 2 hour presentation or similar money to provide lunch for all attendees and have the nerve to promote their company to those in attendance.
    CAAMP should have cancelled this speaker weeks ago, good on DLC for standing up for brokers.

  • Concerned Broker on 21/11/2012 11:15:02 AM

    I was eager to hear Kevin O'Leary speak in Vancouver but NOT under these circumstances. So well done to CAAMP for listening to us their paying customers and supporters, conversely poor managing by CAAMP for booking a speaker who knowingly was going to be a potential conflict of interest. Kevin O'Leary's team announced as far back as May of this year ( http://www.kevinoleary.com/posts/news/alex-kenjeev-talks-oleary-wines-oleary-mortgages-and-bags-of-cash/)that he was venturing into the Mortgage market in some shape or form. CAAMP did not do their due diligence.

  • Paul Therien - CENTUM on 21/11/2012 11:17:37 AM

    I cannot recall CAAMP ever not allowing industry participants to speak at events previously - in fact quite the opposite. That being said, I think that this whole situation poorly represents our industry. Mr. O'Leary has never publicly stated that he would never deal with brokers, nor has he outlined any concrete plans for O’Leary mortgages. In fact I cannot find anything that states he has even spoken to anyone to clarify what his plans are. All of the conjecture thus far has come from un-named sources, and in fact it is these “sources” that have ‘suggested’ he will bypass brokers. From the article:
    “Sources are telling MortgageBrokerNews.ca more about Kevin O’leary’s foray into the industry, suggesting he'll brand a white-label product offered by a leading mortgage servicing company then use his name and an advertising campaign to generate leads -- leads meant to bypass brokers.”
    No-where in this or other articles that I have read does it state that Mr. O’Leary has confirmed, or denied, any of the rumours. And that is all it is, speculation, and rumours. A shame we don’t actually give someone the opportunity to show us their mettle before we judge them.
    We, as brokers, openly support lenders that actively compete with us and have done so for many years - TD, Scotia, CIBC to name a few. If we really want Mr. O’Leary to have a mortgage company that values mortgage brokers as partners, then perhaps we need to welcome him with open arms, instead of treating him like a enemy. As it is now, he has been told that he is not welcome, locked out from our national conference, and for all intense purposes… shunned.
    I can’t help but wonder if this highly negative reaction, and public flaying, of Mr. O’Leary will only ensure that when he does launch he decides that a relationship with the very volatile mortgage broker community is simply not worth it. At a time when there is uncertainty, and when most brokers are lamenting the lack of lenders who value us as partners, this is not the first impression we should have given a potential partner.
    Mr. O’Leary, if you do happen to read this, I want you to know that CENTUM is always supportive of new lenders in Canada. Diversity and competition leads to innovative products for the consumer, and makes for a healthy Canadian housing and mortgage industry. If, despite this early reception, you do decide that you want to look at brokers as a viable originations channel, we would be pleased to enter into discussions with you.

  • BC Broker on 21/11/2012 11:18:02 AM

    Thank you CAAMP.

  • Arthur G on 21/11/2012 11:23:18 AM

    I have been in this industry for over 20 yrs and the unprofessional response to the O'Leary initiative to enter our market is the first time I have been embarrassed to be part of the industry. For anyone , particularly the leaders of our larger broker firms to consider O'Leary a threat, versus embracing O'Leary is nothing short of extremely short sighted and small picture. If anyone thinks that O'Leary is launch a mortgage business to simply become a broker firm, unprofitable and limited is naive,. He is a successful business man, who without question can bring mortgages to our industry. If I were him, following this unprofessional response ...I would seek alternative distribution options.
    And to suggest CAAMP knew O'Leary' was entering the market when they booked him as one of their many speakers is equally naive. Speakers for any event of his caliber are booked 6 months to a year in advance, I applaud CAAMPs professional response and taking it on the chin from brokers inexperienced and unprofessional response to something that was completely out of their control. It's time this industry grew up. I for one welcome new participants , and especially those who may present the opportunity for more lender choice for me and my customers. Maybe others will think big picture and reach out to O'Leary....I for one will be.

  • Paul Therien - CENTUM on 21/11/2012 11:29:55 AM

    Well said Arthur G. and just to be sure you know, not ALL of the leadership in our industry supports the shunning of Mr. O'Leary.

  • Arthur G on 21/11/2012 11:32:05 AM

    Peter Therian, you are a scholar and a gentleman. You depict true leadership in this industry, that is without a doubt lacking vision and conviction . I don't know you.....but I will be seeking you out for opportunities going forward

  • Joe Tomkins on 21/11/2012 11:32:45 AM

    In reply to Paul Therien whom I respect a lot, Paul you need to read CMT's article then comment.

    Joe Tomkins

  • Ryan Kirwan, HQ Mortgages Inc. on 21/11/2012 12:48:26 PM

    I don't get it... although Kevin expressed he didn't plan on using brokers to originate mortgages at this time, you think this bitching and whining will change his mind? If anything we should of embraced this chance to convince Kevin how brokers can actually benefit his mortgage business. We should of picked his brain as to where he thinks the mortgage industry is going and what he plans on offering that is sooooo much different than the rest of us. We should of done this to learn and possibly duplicate in our own business practices. Remember, we are losing lenders at a fast pace people; we need to make friends, not enemies -- "keep your friends close, your enemies closer and your inlaws as far away as possible".

  • Paul Therien - CENTUM on 21/11/2012 1:34:15 PM

    Hi Joe, I return the respect to you as well. I read the CMT article and it clearly said that when he expands he would work with brokers, which is reasonable. If he wants to do controlled measured growth to ensure a sustainable organization in the future the business plan makes sense. The article does not negate that the reception he has received does not reflect well on brokers. We need more lenders that provide choice to the consumer. Isn't it better that the business be proven and stable before opening the flood gates? It is done all the time in business for good reason. Why would anyone attack someone who is offering an alternative to the banks? Doesn't this further demonstrate to the consumer that there are viable options?

    Lets think beyond the now and look to the future of our industry so that we can remain a viable option for the consumer.

  • Greg Williamson on 21/11/2012 5:36:28 PM

    I think through all this flurry of comments we may have lost our way a little. DLC made a business decision about not wanting to spend $50,000 on a speaker that they felt was not a good investment of sponsorship dollars. I think they have that right, they are the sponsors. Clearly, the mortgage broker community agrees with them.

    CAAMP had an equal decision to seek alternative sponsorship for the event or drop the speaker. Of course given the backlash CAAMP may have decided to drop the speaker instead of seeking alternative sponsor of O'Leary.

    Paul, I think that if you are so passionate that we should embrace Mr. O'Leary then of course CENTUM could have chosen to put up the $50,000 to sponsor him?

  • Nick Hamblin on 22/11/2012 2:02:29 AM

    Perhaps Brokers should consider boycotting the servicing group O'Leary intends to use as well !
    Oh and Kudos to Gary Mauris for standing up for brokers!

  • Terry on 22/11/2012 3:30:37 AM

    Paul. First off. I do have a couple of the 5 big banks as one of my lenders. So, what do you mean by your comment. Let's face it, a few of our Broker channel lenders outside of the big banks have either closed their doors altogether or been sold out. Anyway, great that DLC stood up for what they believe was in the best interest of us all, but until you heard the guy speak, let's not jump the gun here. Besides, DLC themselves came with their big tag line Mascott, Don Cherry backing them up. Does it take all that to sell your team? Quite possibly the same was to happen with O'leary. I would sooner have him back me up , a guy that made it on his own without a hockey team.

  • Ron Butler on 22/11/2012 5:53:19 AM

    I am with Greg and Glenn.

    This is a policy matter. CAAMP states that keynote speakers must be from outside our industry, panels are different, they are made up of insiders. Very straight forward. Since the O'Leary mortgage project was likely developing for many months it seems CAAMP would have a right to say there should have been better disclosure about taking the engagement.

    I also don't think mortgage brokers are required to embrace all new lenders especially if they are clearly direct to consumer lenders that totally by pass our channel.

  • Paul Therien - CENTUM on 22/11/2012 5:58:07 AM

    Terry, I think that I am seeing the big picture more so than you might believe. Supporting a new lender in our industry is not to the detriment of my own brokers and agents, in fact my network has communicated overwhelming support for the position I have taken. Instead of opening a channel of communication with a potential new lender, we have shut them down and made it clear that there is no interest in doing business with them unless they do what we think they should do.

    Actually, Mr. O’Leary has stated quite clearly that it would be measured growth – starting small and then expanding. Once the stability and demand for the product was ascertained he clearly stated that he would be interested in using the broker channel to originate mortgages. In a flux market, such as we are currently experiencing, that is a sound business strategy. One that in fact many of our existing lender partners took when they launched (ICICI to name just one) and a strategy that is used by almost every successful business in every industry.

    I was referring to the chief economists from several of the banks that have been speakers.

    I am not questioning DLC’s choice to terminate their sponsorship of him as a speaker, that is their business decision to make. As I am not privy to the internal discussions, minds or thoughts of the people at DLC, I am not in a position to comment. I have a great amount of respect for Gary Mauris and the crew at Dominion, they have done very well building a highly successful brand. I am certain that the decision made was best for the brand, and knowing Gary it was not a decision made on a whim.
    I was however commenting on the general reaction of the broker community to this news, which degraded to personal insults and attacks on Mr. O’Leary. A highly unprofessional reaction that is not representative of the professionalism this industry claims to have. Certainly not representative of CENTUM network members. We do not engage in personal attacks.

    I am not suggesting that people remove the passion for the profession, what I am however suggesting is that we take a reasonable approach. The fact that he was cancelled as a speaker, or lost sponsorship is not what I consider to be worth comment. What I am suggesting however is that instead of extending an invitation to enter into talks with the channel to use us as an origination source, we have shunned and insulted him. This does not make logical business sense to me, even when factoring in emotional responses.

    Would I prefer that he used brokers as a source of origination, of course. Do I resort to personal insult and attacks as some have done because I wish it were so, no I do not. Do I understand from a business perspective the need to build a sustainable business prior to doing a full launch, yes I do. Would I engage in discussions with him now or in the future to utilize mortgage brokers, specifically CENTUM, as a source of origination. Yes I would.

    You may consider this to be pandering, and that is your perception (of which I have no interest in changing). We do not “prostate” ourselves to anyone, but what we do is engage businesses and people in fair and balanced discussions to ascertain the potential value of a partnership, be that now or in the future. I am not in the habit of closing doors on people, nor do I intend to do so in the future. I made an effort to let Mr. O’Leary know that should he choose to engage a network in discussions, that CENTUM is one that would be interested in having that discussion. Would I do it to the sacrifice or the detriment of my network? Never.

  • Concerned Broker on 23/11/2012 6:51:12 AM

    Whether you agree with Kevin O'Leary or not is your call. On his web site he announced on May 28th he was getting into the mortgage business. Why is CAAMP or any of you surprised by this. CAAMP did not do their due diligence in advance of signing Kevin, it's not his fault unless he was asked to disclose.

  • Keith on 23/11/2012 8:15:41 AM

    Of all the comments on here Paul from Centum is by far the most reasonable and he appears to be the only one who has actually put some thought into the situation instead of delivering a knee jerk reaction. It is a shame we do not have more people who are vocal like him in our industry, instead of those that are always quick to judge and slam others.

  • Paul Therien - CENTUM on 23/11/2012 8:54:39 AM

    Thanks Keith! Appreciate the positive feedback.

  • Glenn May-Anderson, Dominion Lending Centres on 22/11/2012 4:22:51 AM

    Paul – I don’t know you personally, or by reputation, but I must respectfully disagree with your comments above. While you (and your company) are certainly entitled to your opinion, I don’t believe you are seeing the big picture here, and it frankly shocks me that you would publicly state a position that is contrary to the best interests of your own brokers and agents.

    First, all evidence available to us indicates Mr. O’Leary will be in direct competition with our channel. True, there are no hard facts at this point, but the simple truth that Mr. O’Leary withdrew from speaking at the conference speaks volumes. Mr. O’Leary is not exactly a wallflower, and uses his public brand to his business benefit wherever possible. He has chosen not to comment on any of these “rumours,” which is completely contradictory to his public persona. If he truly intends to work with the broker channel, I am certain he would have stated so; Mr. O’Leary’s silence on these rumours is, for all intents and purposes, deafening.

    You also state that you do not recall CAAMP “not allowing industry participants to speak at events previously - in fact quite the opposite.” While it is true that event sponsors, along with other industry participants, have spoken prior to a keynote address or participated in expert panels, none have been a keynote speaker. Those industry members who speak at conferences do on a volunteer basis; keynote speakers, on the other hand, are paid. Regardless of the subject of the speech, allowing Mr. O’Leary to participate would be equivalent to allowing the Vice-President of RBC’s mobile mortgage sales force to do the same. Even if it was John Webster or Michael Beckette, it would not be allowed as per CAAMP’s policy, and would most likely be viewed by the broker community with some disdain.

    If Mr. O’Leary is in negotiations with “one of the channel’s biggest mortgage servicing companies to underwrite and service those mortgages,” you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out who that is. Whether that company risks losing support from the broker channel should they choose to work with him remains to be seen.

    With a roughly 30% share of originations across the country, we have much work to do in order to promote the expertise and benefits of using an independent mortgage professional to the Canadian public. It is work that we must do together, diligently, both as our own brokerages or networks, and across company lines. Paying and promoting someone who may be in direct competition with us is short-sighted and not an intelligent business decision.

    It’s difficult to remove the passion many brokers have from such an emotionally-charged issue. But our reaction is soundly in support of our businesses. Mr. O’Leary, I am certain, is just as passionate about his business lines (or about making money – take your pick), and therefore certainly makes decisions based on sound business principals, not emotions. His willingness to withdraw shows understanding on his part (either that, or he doesn’t care because he’s being paid regardless of whether he speaks). This entire episode will be soon forgotten, and if he determines that our channel can provide adequate distribution to help increase his lender’s profitability, he will reach out to us at that time.

    Finally, I doubt Mr. O’Leary would be swayed by such obvious pandering as that contained in your last paragraph. I certainly hope you don’t prostrate yourself or your company in that manner to all potential lenders or business partners. I support Greg Williamson’s earlier comment – If you feel so strongly that the rest of us are tarnishing this industry’s reputation with our responses, you can certainly pay the $50,000 to sponsor him at the conference. I’m certain he still has the date available. The number of attendees at his speech would certainly tell you whether that was money well-spent.

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