2018-06-17 Clint Howen

The Heart of Hero Broker

The Heart of Hero Broker | Hero Broker

The Pillbara Desert, Western Australia. Where I got the idea for Hero Broker (and some sunburn).

 

It all kicked off with a hot summer’s day way back in February 2011.

I was in a beautiful but rough and tumble part of Australia called the Pillabara, hanging out around the isolated North-West coast of Australia.

I was really young, hard working, and doing everything I could to better myself in life. The great thing about being born Australian – or coming here from overseas to kickstart a new life – is adventure is not an optional accessory, it’s an essential. That’s more or less why a boy who grew up along the beaches of Central Coast, New South Wales found himself out in the desert.

 

I was working hard as a pipe fitter in the mining industry, and I’d just finished a hard 12 hour shift in 44°C degree heat (111°F for any of you Yankees reading who use Fahrenheit).

I was there grinding away, fitting pipe on a large oil and gas project under the hot Aussie sun. I returned at day’s end, totally exhausted. It was like that basically everyday, and I’d come to my room tired but prepared to do just one thing before I woofed down some food and collapsed into bed: follow up with my mortgage broker.

I know I know, that may sound odd. What about a call to your girlfriend? Your best mate? Even your mum!? I did those things regularly too. But it was my mortgage broker on my mind everyday.

 

You see I come from a good but regular Aussie family. My mum and dad we’re always looking to ensure me and my siblings understood the ‘Golden Rule’ of being Australian.  That if you work hard and play fair you can get ahead in life. That’s what makes Australia special.

That spirit is what found me out in the desert, and even though it was hot and hard work, I never questioned those values were true. That’s why I was out there, trying to work to get some extra cash so my family and I could get an investment property together. Something that would represent in brick and mortar the foundations my mum and dad had built throughout our family.

But dealing with a mortgage broker each and every day really tested me. More and more as the process went on, I found it was me doing the hard work. Me doing all the running around helping him manage the case. With it being a slow, vague, and mysterious process from start to finish.

 

The only time my broker really paid attention was when it came to sending the invoice. He was really sharp and on the money there. I tell you what, I might have been in the Outback and getting some jitters about the movie Wolf Creek when I walked home now and then – but the mortgage brokers fees were way more frightening.  My pay from working 12-hour days within the “lucrative” Oil & Gas industry was minuscule compared to commissions this broker was getting.

Ultimately, a deal was a deal, and I took these fees on the chin. I paid up, and my family and I got on with it. But I couldn’t let it go how terrible the whole process was. I’m an easygoing guy, I’m not one of those types who kick up a fuss if a barista needs a couple minutes more to make me a coffee  – love you people, you keep me and my team caffeine-infused! – so it’s rare that something like this impacts so much.

 

But really: the whole service experience was just terrible. The more I talked to other family members and my friends, the more I heard of similar stories.

Aussies were hiring mortgage brokers, doing the heavy lifting themselves, and then getting whacked with huge fees at the end of the process. I recognised there was a big problem here.

 

The Lightbulb Moment

 

I recognised, If Aussies are essentially sorting their own loans, why do they need a broker? They don’t! I mean really, if you want to sort your own loan and then blow a ton of money you may as well forget the broker and leg it to Bali for a holiday! Get some surfing lessons, 100 Bintang singlets, the works. But at the time there wasn’t really any other option.

I didn’t want to use a broker, but it was the only option to compare the market. I didn’t get to see all the loans available.  I had to take his word for it that he did the right thing and checked them all out for me. Lotta secrecy there, and also about how many loans he checked out for me. Even if you couldn’t say the specifics, you could say ‘yeah I looked into 15’, or 25, or 35 – whatever. I found out later most brokers only check out a couple before sending the client’s a bill.

After a while this really started to eat away at me. I thought about the lessons from my parents, and also about the great Australian dream. Buying a home can be tough these days, so nobody should be asked to spend $10,000 or a broker that gives them Buckley’s chance of a fair go.

I knew I had to do something about this, so I say adios to the desert and headed back to town.

 

The Heart of Hero Broker | Hero Broker

Pictured: Bali. Not pictured: A mortgage broker doing bugger all while he takes your hard-earned money.

 

Start your Engines

 

I began with some typically Aussie gusto. Stepping away from my trade, diving head first into the tech world. I sought out some of Australia’s most talented entrepreneurs. Looking to get my foot in the door, and then learn from them.

Learn from them on how to create, innovate, and deliver Aussies something they’d love.

It was an amazing time for me personally, all these talented professionals around, and trying to learn each and every day how they created businesses that really fulfilled a need.  It was also on the cutting edge, as my time with Sci.Aero saw us pioneering UAV technology that’d ultimately result in our team releasing the first ever multirotor drone to be approved for commercial flying by NASA.

I really enjoyed this stage of my life, and continue to treasure today the friendships I formed then, but not a day went by I wasn’t thinking about the unfinished business I had when it came to the mortgage process. So, in 2015 I finished up with my mates and turned my eyes towards the finance industry.

I knew it would be really hard going right away. There were no big investors waiting for me, no country club connections, and a whole ton of people keen to keep things cosy and cushy in the mortgage industry.

I knew I wouldn’t be embraced, but –  because I knew what I dreamed of could be a huge difference to a everyday Aussie family just looking to secure their first home – I was undeterred.

 

What I learned

 

For anyone who is yet to do it let me tell you: everybody’s perception of starting a business can really be hit for six once you start it! Sure there were a ton of those little moments of excitement along the way, getting a website sorted, setting up a Facebook, and all that good stuff.

But fittingly for someone starting a business to help people buy property, the early stages were very much a matter of brick by brick. For anybody who has heard that story about pigs and the wolf? Can confirm: a couple of pigs and some wolves in this story too.

First, I became a qualified broker. Learning the ins and outs of the business. Everything I needed to know, to make a start, and to begin offering an avenue for all Aussies to get a better deal.

But then? Backlash. Mortgage Broker, a group I had partnered with originally, pulled out.

They were with me at first, but I reckon they didn’t like the idea I’d be doing this in the long term.

‘This’ as in giving Aussies access to the same tools and rewards that mortgage brokers get.

I look back at it now and in my opinion they were most interested in just ensuring their system that saw paying “referral partners” big commissions was the focus.

 

So I copped a fair bit of heat from the industry.

But I was ready to deal with this heat, I’d  anticipated it.

Given I’d spend many days working 44 degree days back in the Pilbara – I wasn’t gotta the fact my team ruffled a few feathers down us.

 

And you know something? While this setback wasn’t ideal, it ultimately just added another tonne of cement on the road I knew I needed to go down. It confirmed to me once more that my team and I were onto something. That this had been a closed-off and cushy industry that needed to be broken open for everyone, not just kept in business for a select few.

So, I set to it once more. Hit the phones, knocked on doors, fired off emails. The heart of my pitch was straightforward and simple. No buzzwords, no jargon. Just a clear-cut question really: would you work with me to make the mortgage broking industry fairer for Aussies?

The whole process more complicated than that of course. Some good people who would’ve otherwise joined us couldn’t align the stars. And true, some folks had heard from others in the mortgage industry I was coming. They didn’t like the idea of that. But anyone who was fair dinkum – even if they couldn’t join us right now – loved the idea of giving regular folks a better deal.

 

So, we took that idea, we ran with it – and my team and I vowed we would never stop running. It’s good today. Hero Broker is live, and every day new Australians hear about it.

But let me tell you: we are all still here working just as hard. We will keep on, and at keep at it. Looking to make it better and better all along the way.

The Heart of Hero Broker | Hero Broker

Hero Broker’s mission is to make it easier for everyday Aussies to buy a home they love.

 

That vision and years of work is what you see today and every day I work to make it a better.

My only hope has been that this helps you on your journey to find a better mortgage, and you don’t experience the same despair I felt in the process all those years ago.

Everyone has their own story as to why they are here at Hero Broker doing it for themselves, doing it for their family and demanding a fairer banking systems.

 

Now Tell Me Your Story

 

Our hope is that Hero Broker gives you better power to be the Hero of your home loan and the Hero of your own story.

If you have a story about how you got here? I would love to hear it and share it to our community.