A discussion with Brian Hogben, of Mission35 Mortgages, about the role financial literacy played in his road to financial freedom, and how he hopes to share that knowledge with the homeowners of tomorrow.

After achieving his goal of becoming mortgage-free before the age of 35, Hamilton, Ont., mortgage broker Brian Hogben turned his focus to helping others achieve their own financial success.

He and his team at Mission35 Mortgages do that by hosting a number of charitable events and giving back in a multitude of ways. Hogben spends considerable time speaking to local students about financial literacy, providing them with insight into how he paid off his first house so quickly and how they, too, can achieve the dream of homeownership.

Hogben attributes much of his early success to the financial lessons instilled in him by his late father.

We had a chance to sit down with Hogben to discuss the origins of Mission35, how financial literacy was at the core of his drive and how he hopes to assist the next generation of homebuyers.

 

In what ways did your dad influence your drive to be financially responsible?

Ever since I was a young kid, my dad was teaching me about financial literacy. Pretty simple stuff about spending less than what you make and putting the rest away.

His mindset was always to save today for tomorrow, so it just really resonated with me. My parents did not go on big vacations, didn’t drive extravagant cars, didn’t do things like that. My dad had ingrained fiscal responsibility in me.

 

How did that foundation in financial literacy affect your career path in mortgages and real estate?

I did a co-op through high school as a bank teller and really became interested in banking and mortgages. Fast-forwarding, I ended up full time with Scotiabank where I was able to go from a bank teller to a customer service rep, to a personal banking officer to one of their mobile mortgage reps.

That’s when I really got into mortgages, as I started learning more about them. Following university, I bought a duplex, where I lived in half and rented out the other half.

It was an interesting thing because soon after, I wanted to buy another property. And I remember I had to borrow money off my dad, and I knew that he loved his Canada Savings Bonds paying two percent or three percent at the time. So, I promised him a whopping five percent return on his investment, even though I’m certain he was happy to invest in his son.

 

You dedicate much of your time to speaking to students about homeownership and the options they have. Tell us about that.

I go to Mohawk College, where I went to school, twice a year and I talk to students about things like co-habitation or co-ownership, and how I had to borrow money from my dad. These are options that typically a bank won’t take the time to explain to you. You’re just approved or you’re not. But giving people alternative scenarios to get into homeownership, I think, is the biggest wealth builder the average person can pursue.

 

It seems much of your charity work revolves around the local school and helping to assist students.

That’s right. One of our big fundraisers is the Mohawk City School program, which helps inner-city kids from lower-incomes families in Hamilton—who would not otherwise think of even applying for college—get a post-secondary education. Last year we raised a total of $5,000 for them. Helping people to have a foundation in education paves the way for them to make change in our community as well.

I also have an annual scholarship for the school’s business administration program. Each year, the college will pick someone who they determine could use the funds to continue through the program. In the past, it has been given to single parents trying to make ends meet as well as younger students with no support at all.

 

What other charitable work is Mission35 involved with?

Each Thanksgiving, we also team up with Dr. J. E. Davey Elementary School. This is a school that has quite a few underprivileged kids, so we will donate eight to 10 Thanksgiving dinners, where the team and I go out and do the shopping, which is quite a fun time.

And at Christmas, we get the whole team together to help feed the homeless with Mission Services in Hamilton. When you see how many volunteers there are and how much food is donated on a daily basis, it really fills me up with gratitude to realize how privileged we truly are to have what we have.

 

How did Mission35 take form from your own goals and what do you hope to communicate via your business to homeowners and consumers?

Since I was a kid, my goal was always Freedom 55, but that eventually changed to Freedom 35: I wanted to be financially secure by the time I was 35 years old. I wanted to make sure that my mortgage was paid and, basically, that I’d be able to take care of my family no matter what happened, just like my dad. I sold one of my investment properties just before my 35th birthday, which was enough to pay off the house I live in today.

I achieved that goal, but my dad wasn’t there to see it. He died a couple of years prior due to Acute Myeloid Leukemia. Once I achieved that goal, I said, “Okay, what’s another reason to keep doing things?”

I thought a lot about how my dad gave me a good foundation and I wanted to find a way to give other people a good foundation. That’s when we opened up the brokerage Mission35 Mortgages in 2016.

As a team, we joke that we’re happy to get you into debt, but we’re just as happy to get you out of it, too. One of the focuses at Mission35 is to introduce clients to the potential of investment properties, but it’s also just about getting people into the idea of homeownership. I think there’s a big segment of the population right now that doesn’t think homeownership is a possibility.

I think the most rewarding aspect of this is when someone says thank you. Particularly when we offer an idea or a solution that they may never have thought about. It’s when someone’s light bulb goes on and they say, “Wow, I never thought this was possible for me. I never thought of myself as being able to invest in real estate.” Or “I never thought of myself as being able to be a homeowner.”

This article first appeared in 2020, Issue 2 of Perspectives magazine, first published in August 2020 by Mortgage Professionals Canada.

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