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Leadership Connect – A Chat With Trevor Appleton

By May 12, 2021May 13th, 2022Leadership Connect

Leadership Connect - Trevor AppletonAt Teranet, we are proud to work with an inspiring group of leaders that bring talent and passion to their jobs every day. Through the Leadership Connect series, we hope to highlight some of our amazing leaders and the interesting work they do for the organization.

We recently spoke to Trevor Appleton to discuss what great leadership means to him. Trevor also gave us some insight into a few current economic trends that he recently shared with our executive team.

Q1: Can you tell us a bit about your role at Teranet?

A1: As the Senior Director of Finance & Corporate Controller for Teranet my role is to lead the accounting, external reporting and financial planning functions.  We have an amazing Finance team at Teranet and my role is to enable the group to meet its goals by guiding the strategy for the group, assisting them with the execution and developing the team.  I also ensure that complete and accurate financial information is communicated with the various stakeholders including the Executive Team, the Board, banking partners and investors.

Q2: As this is a part of our Leadership Connect series, can you tell us some qualities you think great leaders possess?

A2: I think that while there are lots of different traits that leaders have, the key ones that make people successful in my environment are decisiveness, accountability and consistency. These qualities can differentiate a leader and drive results with both internal and external stakeholders.

Decisiveness is important so that you can keep the team moving forward, even without access to perfect information. In the face of uncertainty, the ability to make a decision that takes into consideration business fundamentals, impact on employees and other stakeholders, precedent, and long-term strategy is crucially important.

A leader needs to demonstrate accountability as it can set the tone for the entire team. Taking ownership of decisions, deliverables and mistakes of yourself and your team are essential to maintain the support of other leaders and the team.

Finally, consistency in a leader’s approach to situations and decision-making is also important. If your team cannot rely on how you will react to a situation or approach an important decision, it will be much harder for them to produce results. Team members will also be more likely to come to a leader for assistance if they can anticipate how the leader is going to handle the situation.

Q3: You play a key role in keeping our organization up-to-date on the pulse of the Canadian economy. What are some key real estate trends you’re seeing that you share with us?

A3: As I’m sure everyone knows, real estate has been red hot in both Ontario and Manitoba, where Teranet has significant operations. In the first quarter of 2021, RBC, CREA and TD all released revised 2021 forecasts that predict year-over-year Ontario resales in 2021 to be in excess of 20%. Currently, the dynamics of the market are driven by low supply, high demand and low interest rates. The Government of Ontario instituted a stay-at-home order in April that has continued into May, and this does not appear to have slowed down the market at all. The most pressing question on everyone’s minds right now is how long can this hot real estate market last? This is not an easy question to answer, especially when we consider the recent announcement of government interventions.

Q4: Can you dig a bit deeper into the impact of these government interventions you’ve mentioned?

A4: Yes absolutely. Firstly, the window for stakeholders to provide submissions to the OSFI superintendent with respect to raising the mortgage interest rate stress test to 5.25% or two points above the market rate, closed last week. This would be an increase from the current rate of 4.79%. A similar change was proposed last year but was shelved once the COVID-19 pandemic started. This stress test means that it will be harder to qualify for a home loan and shrink the pool of qualified borrowers. Ultimately the hope is to bring down some of the upward pressure on home prices. Stakeholders had until May 7, 2021 to voice their opinions, with the new rules scheduled to be implemented on June 1, 2021 – so stay tuned for further information in the next few weeks.

Secondly, in the recent Federal Budget announcement, the government proposed the introduction of a new national 1% annual tax on the value of Canadian residential real estate owned by non-residents of Canada that are considered vacant or underused. This tax would begin in 2023 and would seek to tax owners of residential properties in Canada that are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents.

These two announcements make it clear that the real estate market’s current conditions are under close watch from regulators, although as RBC’s economist Robert Hogue said in his report from earlier in April ‘there is no silver bullet for this.’

Q5: You mentioned previously that it’s hard to predict what will happen to the real estate market in 2021, but do you have any predictions generally about what economic trends we’ll see occur by the end of the year?

A5: What I hope for is some consistency in economic conditions as we proceed through 2021. The restrictions due to the third wave have increased unemployment once again (although not close to last year’s levels) however the Federal government programs for COVID-19 are in place until at least through September and will continue to provide assistance to those that are impacted by the pandemic. With the current pace of vaccinations in Canada, I am hopeful that by the fall restrictions are loosened and we can return to some sense of normalcy as we have seen in the United Kingdom and the United States.  Interest rates are expected to remain low into 2022, which bodes well for the real estate market, however we need to be wary of inflation through the latter half of the year that may expedite an increase in interest rates.

Q6: Thank you very much for that insight! One last question for you, what is some advice you’d give to future leaders?

A6: It is never too early to start acting like a leader, even if you do not formally lead people. Take ownership of work, demonstrate your commitment to your work and be aware of your role in influencing both your colleagues and your manager. I do not like the term, but everyone does have a ‘personal brand’ and it’s never too early to start to build it. Leadership starts with how you conduct yourself every day in your interactions with others and the quality of your work product.

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