In late 2008 the TD Bank ‘called’ my company’s loan on a major development project in Edmonton, Alberta.
I want to highlight the irresponsible and unethical actions taken by TD Canada Trust in its handling of this company loan.
The loan was ‘called’ shortly after the collapse of Lehman Bros – even though all my company’s payments were current on every loan and line of credit.
The calling of the loan was completely unnecessary (and incredibly heavy handed).
The project was located in an area of wealth and rapid growth with an economy well equipped to weather any storm – and was well on its way to becoming a success.
It seemed to be driven by concerns about the Real Estate Market at that time and a simplistic bureaucratic response to ‘call’ development land loans in Alberta.
In addition to calling the developer loan, the bank also cancelled many builder-funding loans on lots we had sold.
Within weeks my company went from profitable with millions in booked profits to insolvent.
It became apparent how ‘connected’ the major Canadian banks are when I contacted (at that time) Jim Flaherty who was the then Finance Minister of Canada. His office did all it could to avoid my communications. The banking ombudsman was also useless.
I made a youtube video called Michael Lathigee Writes Letter of Complaint to TD Bank and to date it has had 4951 views.
With this as the background I am obviously delighted with the long overdue Financial Disrupter Industry. History aside – I am so keen on this Financial technology industry (Fintech) that I have invested heavily in it. I see it as the way of the future. These companies are providing a valuable service and I believe (as an investor) that the returns will be huge.
The leader I like in Canada isMogo Finance Technology Inc.(TSX : GO)
I was particularly heartened when in late March, Toronto Dominion Chief Executive Bharat Masrani called on TD (connected) policymakers and ‘suggested’ that there be more regulation around Fintechs. Another simplistic response by the TD minions, it would seem, prompted largely because these companies have begun to challenge their (big banks) profits.
I was delighted because it is an indicator of how these companies are beginning to create havoc for the traditional big banks.
I believe Masrani comments were an attempt to use the bank’s powerful lobby with policy makers – to continue its unabated big bank monopoly and bar legitimate lower costs and better consumer experience oriented companies from entering the marketplace. I say ‘no way and go away TD’.
What happened to my company has happened to countless other companies and they are finally getting some serious competition.
I look forward to seeing continued erosion of big bank market share due to, what is best described as their ‘dinosaur’, business practices.
Competition – against continued heavy handed and unnecessary actions (with a seeming agenda to soak every dime possible from consumers) coupled with sub par service – cannot be bad!
The new Fintechs are long overdue innovative challengers bringing banking services to Canadians more quickly and at lower costs. No longer does a borrower have to wait for weeks to obtain approval on a loan – it can now happen in minutes – online.
The TD’s Masrani response is predictable and it is likely he has more interest in the value of his options than what is best for Canadian consumers. Masrani represents everything that is outdated in the banking industry and in time I believe – he will loose more and more market share.
Fintech companies are providing services that consumers demand – and they cannot get from big banks. Lets, as Canadians, shout – No! – to the kind of regulation Masrani and his ilk ‘suggest”.
It is obviously a strategy of the big banks to drive out competition.
I give full credit to these new Fintech banking companies – some of which go so far as to extend unsecured lines of credit to small business. So Masrani sit in your corner and ‘shut up’ and allow the free arm of entrepreneurship to provide betterment for small business and consumers in Canada. You have lined your pockets and destroyed enough businesses.
It is time for you be overtaken by a more agile solution within the industry.
What is ironic is during the speech Masrani acknowledged the bank may have to enter into partnerships with Fintechs.
Masrani may spin his position from the angle of consumer protection and fair competition but the reality is – he is driven mainly by market share and if that means driving competitors out of business – so be it. He knows that it is unlikely Fintechs would ever get off the ground if they were required to adhere to the expensive regulations that governs the banks and that is why he is lobbying for regulation. Canadians stand up and say ‘No way, go away’ and support a new industry that is being so well received by small business and consumers in Canada.
With banking profit at $1 trillion worldwide – don’t expect the major banks to stop their deep pocketed lobby movement. In The USA, Capital Hill is run by lobbyists and special interest groups and the big bank industry in Canada is very close to this monopolistic agenda. Because the bottom line is – the banks, led by anti competition, old establishment fossils like Masrani, want to create costly barriers (through regulation) for Fintech companies and slow their pace of growth. In the end Masrani does not want change, he just wants protectionism, which historically Canadian politicians seem only too happy to grant the large banks. This is due to established ‘old school’ relationships –rather than doing the best for the interests of their constituents.
People are finally able to attain loans that were never available to them before and the rates are getting more and more competitive. These Fintechs, (through low overhead costs and an algorithm model – providing a quick approval process) bring loans to consumers and small businesses in minutes – providing more fluidity to the economy.
So I am hoping the Fintech industry ‘will stick it to big bank TD and its backward leadership’ in the same way TD ‘stuck it to my company’
GO FINTECH GO!!!
I suggest doing your own homework and give this industry serious consideration for investment enabling them to take on the battle to come.
You will be rewarded at both the consumer level and the investment level!