One of the industry’s most influential thought leaders pulled no punches last Thursday when he was featured on the Canadian Mortgage Hangout (#cmhTV) – especially when talking about Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s recent threats to intervene in the housing market once again if necessary.
“I think he’s done a terrific job but it’s a tightrope act,” Merix President and CEO, Boris Bozic said about the finance minister’s past regulation changes. “Being prudent is a good thing for our overall business… my concern is overstepping.”
And while future regulation changes are always a hot topic, Bozic believes such postulations aren’t as common as they once were.
“One of the basic changes that we have seen over the last six months and I think it’s been critical to our business is that the decibel level has certainly dropped in terms of what we are hearing from Ottawa and also the regulators,” he said. “I think a lot of this has to do with some of the players shifting in terms of those who control the levers of power.
“This was a big problem for our industry was the decibel level and sort of the debate that was going back and forth between Carney and Minister Flaherty.”
Understandably, brokers have voiced concern about Flaherty’s constant threats to intervene further. It’s a frustration that is exacerbated by the media’s constant prodding and questioning about the minister’s future plans pertaining to the mortgage industry.
“It is unfortunate that there is a certain group of financial writers, including some mortgage brokers, who thrive on writing negative 'news' by predicting complete market collapses,” Jackson Middleton of First Foundation Residential Mortgages – and one of the hosts of #cmhTV -- told MortgageBrokerNews.ca. “The more severe their message, the more attention they draw to themselves.”
And while some may take umbrage to Flaherty’s constant threats, Bozic believes the blueprint for how to best handle media hypothesizing has already been set by the Governor of the Bank of Canada, Stephen Poloz.
“He is speaking only to monetary policy and not speaking in a broad-based sense in terms of what Canadians have to do in terms of fiscal responsibility, et cetera; so I think as much as we hear chatter today it’s not nearly as loud as it used to be and I think this is important because this all leads to consumer confidence,” Bozic said. “And it really is interesting that even with all the chatter and everything that was in the press, the consumer, I think has started to shut out all that noise. They make decisions based on their pocketbook and based on what they think is right.”
Perhaps the industry may be better served to consider the public’s opinion as well as Mr. Flaherty’s.
“The best arbiter, in terms of the health of the economy, is really the consumer, themselves,” Bozic said.