Hilliard MacBeth isn't only criticizing the country's real estate markets but banks as well, specifically their growing emphasis on wealth management.
The controversial author whose new book calls for a big crash in real estate prices
, also believes that the big banks will soon face their own day of reckoning when they must decide where their bread is truly buttered.
Since the beginning of March every one of the big six banks has commented on Canadians’ high consumer debt load
yet none has sounded the alarm with most analysts suggesting low interest rates make these debt loads manageable — at least for the moment.
MacBeth sees the move by banks into wealth management, which started in the 1980s with the acquisition of independent brokerage firms such as Dominion Securities, as a turning point in the Canadian financial services industry, that up until then had kept the four pillars relatively separate.
“The banks didn’t use to be in the brokerage industry,” says MacBeth. “When I started in the industry  they weren’t allowed to be but then in 1987 they started buying firms such as Pit field, MacKay, Ross; after that you couldn’t avoid working for the banks at some point.”
The problem with this scenario is that should the “housing bubble” burst, the banks will be ones most affected by the fallout. First, similar to what happened in the U.S., they’ll be left holding paper on properties severely under water. Second, the big advisor networks of those banks will suffer considerable damage to their assets under management as clients sell assets to shore up their real estate.
MacBeth points out the obvious.