The economy – maple icing or just thin ice

Travel has a way of broadening perspectives and this week I have been in Canada again, at the RMA conference in Niagara Falls, where I have been generally eating too many burgers, drinking too much coffee and wondering where the vegetables have gone from my diet… all this in addition to chatting about the Canadian economic landscape and what people think will happen in the new year. Of course, some things are different but what was surprising was just how familiar the whole conversation and themes felt too.

So here are my key takeaways and observations from the week.

  1. Economic Pressures Mirroring… well everywhere else: Just like elsewhere Canadian consumers are grappling with inflation and rising energy costs. This financial squeeze is starting to bite, with the burden heavier in some sectors.
  2. Resilience in the Face of Adversity: Despite these challenges, Canadians are absorbing these costs and persevering. However, there is a sense that the pressure is mounting, with an undercurrent of concern around sustainability.
  3. Digital Adoption – A Slow March: Interestingly, while consumers are enthusiastic about digital servicing, such as contactless payment and services like Uber, it feels like mainstream adoption in business processes is lagging behind. Canada’s pace feels like it is trailing behind Europe and is significantly slower than Asia.
  4. Somber Outlook for Credit Risk and Collections: Professionals in this sector aren’t exactly known for their optimism, and this conference was no exception. A significant majority anticipate a recession in the coming year… okay we have said this for the last 3 years, but this time it is really going to happen… although I do agree too.
  5. Unchanging Human Elements: Despite the buzz around digitalisation and automation, certain human needs still remain constant. The need for food, social interactions, and the pursuit of improvement of quality of life really haven’t fundamentally changed… ever. Some things never change I suppose… this will also be true in areas such as customer financial difficulty and vulnerability… and area also discussed.
  6. Pace of Change – A North American Snapshot: A comment from the conference also shed light on the varying speeds of business across North America. Silicon Valley leads, rapid decision-making apparently, followed by New York and with Toronto unfortunately trailing. It really made me think about the importance of this to foster growth and innovation. Speed of decision and action could be a proxy measure and an interesting objective in itself… one to think about.
  7. Rethinking Leadership: Also an interesting comment on the need for leaders to listen more and speak last. There is value in team discussions, feedback, and collaborative problem-solving… and by speaking last you get to let this conversation run enhancing creativity and the decision-making processes.

… and lastly I have quite a few really good cups of coffee too (not Tim’s… sorry)

So there is a little more on the economic outlook in my write-up here… but I also saw some cool tech too, so watch out for this soon.

Have a good week everyone.

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