Romy Bowers named new CMHC CEO, as outgoing Evan Siddall responds to extraordinary forecasts
The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation has appointed its new CEO, closing what has been an extensive search to replace incumbent Evan Siddall.
Romy Bowers, current CMHC Vice President of Client Solutions, will succeed Siddall and officially begin her five-year term effective April 6.
“I believe my tenure at CMHC has given me a good understanding of our business and our culture and I am delighted to work closely with my colleagues across the company to help us pursue our aspiration for affordability. housing, ”Bowers said in a prepared statement. .
She joined CMHC in 2015 after a career in the Canadian banking industry, including 12 years at the Bank of Montreal. Bowers previously served as Chief Risk Officer and Chief Commercial Officer at CMHC prior to his current role.
“I have a lot of experience in change management, and CMHC’s ambitious change agenda really appealed to me,” Bowers added. “I also admired CMHC for the extraordinary work it did for Canadians during the global financial crisis. It is definitely a company that exceeds its weight in terms of influence. “
Siddall said Bowers was an “exceptional choice to succeed me”, and that “… it was the best job I have ever had and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to help transform CMHC into an institution that Canadians can admire.
Siddall admits CMHC’s pandemic forecast was wrong
Last May, as the pandemic began, CMHC made headlines with its overly pessimistic forecast, which predicted the worst-case economic scenario where:
- house prices have fallen 9% to 18% from their pre-pandemic peak
- mortgage deferrals went from 12% to 20%
- that 20% of peak mortgage deferrals expected to be in default
All of this could happen “if our economy hasn’t recovered enough,” Siddall said mentionned at the time. The agency even maintained these house price forecasts as recently as last fall.
But now, in a recent thread of tweets, Siddall admits that those predictions were wrong, in large part because the turn of events with the furious housing market in Canada over the year could not have been predicted.
“… We never claimed to have a crystal ball (sic),” he tweeted. “We don’t know everything about housing. We wanted to contribute to the speech, although it was difficult to be precise about the future. In hindsight, we could have clarified that. “
Here is a highlight of part of this thread …
He then addressed the unforeseen events / factors that prevented the agency’s worst-case scenarios from happening.
“Our recent work highlights composition / mix shifts, shifting preferences, high savings rates, declining immigration and reverse urbanization as unanticipated developments that help explain our forecasting errors,” he wrote. “Today, we remain very concerned about a reversal, even partial, of these factors …”
Siddall’s personal legacy is not without flaws. He didn’t win many friends among mortgage professionals, nor a segment of home buyers shut out of the housing market because of tighter mortgage rules Siddall had advocated.
He oversaw a number of key policy initiatives during his tenure that had the explicit objective of tightening mortgages and making it more difficult for new borrowers to qualify for a loan.
Despite intense opposition from the mortgage and real estate industries, Siddall has vigorously defended the stricter regulation, noting that the measures reduced the number of heavily indebted borrowers at federally regulated lenders.
“In my seven years of work, I’m proud that we’ve avoided a housing crisis, but in a way we failed,” he said last year in an online interview with Mortgage Professionals Canada President and CEO Paul Taylor.
“Prices which have no relation to the underlying economy and which increase faster than incomes cause an increase in inequalities in our country. And the solution is not to make buying a house even easier… ”