Helping people achieve dreams drives new broker

Roy Fleming relishes career switch from media to broking

Helping people achieve dreams drives new broker

It takes plenty of self-confidence and a willingness to back yourself to make a career change in your 50s, but Roy Fleming has it in spades.

After a 35-year career in media and communications, working in senior newsroom roles at News Corp and Fairfax (now Nine) where he was the founding editor at WA Today, Fleming has made the leap into mortgage broking.

He has been a fully fledged broker for about three months, working in partnership with Melbourne-based brokerage MortgageBuzz and is loving the opportunity to help people achieve their homeownership dreams.

Fleming (pictured above), who lives and works in Korumburra, a small rural town in Victoria’s South Gippsland region, said he was just starting to write loans for customers.

“These are people that do not have loans, do not have much equity, haven't owned homes and just want to get in [to the market] and you can feel their desire,” said Fleming.

“It’s just so important that they start building that financial path. I get real joy out of that. I didn’t realise mortgage broking would have that element but seeing people happy and achieving what they need to achieve, there’s something beautiful about that which I really like.”

Fleming’s first bunch of customers have so far included a client refinancing a personal loan, and others seeking refinances with cashout to upgrade their homes.

“There’s a man in his 50s who’s about to buy his first home, which is a great feeling.”

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Fleming said the lending landscape had changed so much from when he was younger and the only way to get a home loan was “to go to your bank and fill out the forms”.

He said broking had reached a new crescendo with brokers writing a lot of the home loan deals.

“Banks love working with brokers and the mortgage broking industry has a very good reputation,” he said

Roy Fleming’s career change

So what prompted Fleming to make such a major career change at the age of 53?

Fleming said he stepped out of mainstream media in 2018, leaving Sydney to head back to head back to Melbourne because of all the major changes in media and the dwindling career opportunities.

He moved into PR and communications and then set up his own PR business when COVID-19 hit “which just stopped all of that marketing spend”.

“I worked in the entrepreneurial space, launching products – and I really loved that but I felt there was one really good stage of my career left,” Fleming said.

That stage turned out to be mortgage broking, after a friend of Fleming’s who worked in real estate helping people to build their investment portfolios told him he would make a good broker.

“What they see in me and what they like is my ability to connect nicely with other people. I’ve been able to throughout my career maintain a lot of friendships and connections … and I feel like I needed a change.”

Fleming has completed his Cert IV in Finance and Mortgage Broking and is studying for his diploma.

He said his friend Maria Aceto, the owner of MortgageBuzz, was bringing on more brokers and asked him to join the team. MortgageBuzz aggregates through LMG.

Aceto has more than 30 years’ experience in the finance industry, and is well respected, while the brokerage’s other director – Maria’s son Dennis Aceto – has a strong focus on compliance.

Fleming said the pair had been highly supportive. “Maria has a vision of what she wants her business to be and she’s super-connected across the industry … she’s a really good relationship manager and she cares about people.”

He was also impressed by their plans to offer clients access to other financial support services, such as financial planning and counselling and credit repair “to help people get into the right shape for borrowing.”

Transferable skills

While broking and journalism are very different industries, Fleming said there were traits that were shared such as communication skills, an ability to relate to people, integrity and trust and an eye for detail.

“It’s really important to have integrity, when they talk to you they’ve got to be able to trust what you say and you’ve got to actually follow through … that’s how you build trust with people.”

“One of the key transferable skills from being a journalist or an editor, is the detail in curating all of the information. When you publish newspapers or magazines and make a mistake, you never hear the end of it.”

Fleming said the consequences of making a mistake on a loan were much greater.

First impressions of broking

As a new industry broker, Fleming said there were a few things which surprised him, including the size of the industry, how many loans brokers wrote, and the number of non-conforming lenders.

“My first impressions are that it’s a fantastic market. Brokers provide a great service and I’m finding that people I speak with do not realise that brokers don’t get paid by the customer.

“As soon as you talk to people and say ‘you don’t pay me, I get paid by the lender eventually’, I think that’s a really good trust builder as well.”

Fleming said the level of compliance and detail required of brokers when writing loans was also surprising but these requirements were a good thing.

“When I was young and getting loans for the first time, you could have a relationship with your bank manager and if they knew you were a hard worker and you're a good person and good at paying your bills, you could get a loan.

“Now, all these years later, those loyalties don't exist anymore. It's about … what your balance sheet looks like, what your credit score looks like.”

Fleming said another challenge when becoming a broker was getting accustomed to the fact that unlike other jobs, your first lot of pay could be months away.

“But if you plan for this like I did it’s fine. I made sure I had the money to support the time to build it [the business] … when you run your own business that’s what it looks like.”

In terms of what improvements could be made to broking, Fleming said lending could be simpler.

“People that have had a good credit history throughout their careers – I just think that there could be a little bit more flexibility to support those people.”

Older people who had a divorce or a change in circumstances also needed more support from lenders and the government.

“We’ve got first-home buyers grants and the homebuyers guarantee but I think something that is directed at middle-aged workers would be beneficial. There’s a lot of people that can’t get loans that want them,” Fleming said.

“Homeownership to me is the number-one thing that gives you relief, support and stability in life – the more we can create there for people, it would be better.”

What surprised you about broking when you first joined the industry? Share your comments below