Broker's inspiration to help the homeless

The role of helping someone into a new home by getting them the right finance is not where it stops for one broker. Instead, he wants to help even more people struggling to find a home.

Stephen O’Reilly-Nugent, a broker at Loan Market, has developed a social enterprise where a proportion of his commissions go to a homeless charity.

Brokers for Change (B4C) went live at the end of February. Twenty percent of the commission paid to brokers from the bank goes to the charity StreetSmart.

O’Reilly-Nugent, who has been a broker for more than 20 years, began thinking about the enterprise as a result of his and Loan Market’s involvement with OzHarvest, where he and other brokers would volunteer to collect food, and would collect dry goods from clients when settling loans.

He questioned how he could find a steady income source for the charity, which not only helps them, but also adds a nice touch for his borrowers.

“I always recognised within myself how uncomfortable it was when people would knock on the door and I would turn people away saying I already do this and do that,” he said.

“So just imagine if you as normal consumers, when you’re paying your bills or mortgage, that a little bit was going to the homeless. For me that would feel pretty good.”

Personal experience
Not only inspired by his work with OzHarvest, O’Reilly-Nugent went through a period of his life where he had no place of his own to live and for a while slept in his car or had to rely on his family.

It brings a more personal touch to his experience of helping others move into their homes.

“What does it for me is, whether it’s homelessness or violence, we all have the right to feel secure,” he said. “We all have the right to call a place home. We are in the business in putting people into their homes and for me as a mortgage broker it gives me a big thrill watching a couple do this for the first time and getting a finance application underway.

“On the flip side of that there’s a lot that don’t have that opportunity.”

Royal commission
B4C means O’Reilly-Nugent and the other brokers now involved give up 20% of their upfront and trail commissions – a look very different to the one painted by the royal commission, where brokers were increasing loan amounts to line their own pockets.

“As a mortgage broker and business owner I’m really motivated for us to show that we provide an excellent service proposition for our customers and what our customers get out of it is nothing to part of the greater good,” he said.

O’Reilly-Nugent added that the way he looks at things is through being a consumer himself. He and his wife own property and he said his wife’s motivation is to make sure they have a really good rate of interest.

“If I want that as a consumer, I’m typically going to be going to the lenders that are supporting us and by and large they’re offering a smaller commission model,” he said. “If the royal commission is going to standardise the payment then I’m happy with that. I couldn’t care less. It’s not the thing that I look at, I want to provide a really good service to my clients.

“But there’s always going to be those people choosing to be skeptical and say I don’t believe you. But you don’t have to believe me. We have just got to go about our business the way we have always done it.”

The B4C program will primarily operate as an online system to match customers to B4C brokers and loan products; it will operate via the Loan Market panel of lenders.

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