Updated: Oct 25
About the Episode
In this enlightening episode of the Rural Entrepreneur Podcast series, Mi6 founder Chris Herbert engages in a deep conversation with Gerard Buckley, an experienced entrepreneur, philanthropist, and investor.
They delve into various topics, from the intricacies of the housing market to the challenges and opportunities faced by rural entrepreneurs. Gerard shares his insights on the current state of the housing market, the impact of demographic shifts, and the potential of rural areas in the age of remote work.
The discussion also touches upon the role of financial institutions, government policies, and the importance of understanding one's customer in the entrepreneurial journey.
Key Themes and Takeaways
Housing Market Dynamics and Challenges
Understanding the Housing Market: Gerard provides a comprehensive overview of the current housing market, emphasizing the challenges of affordable housing and the influence of global economic shifts.
Demographic Impact on Housing: The discussion highlights the role of demographics, with people living longer and occupying homes for extended periods, affecting housing availability.
Rural Entrepreneurship: Strengths and Challenges
Self-Reliance in Rural Communities: Gerard points out that individuals in rural areas often grow up with a mindset of self-reliance, leading to a strong entrepreneurial spirit.
Diversification in Farming: The conversation underscores the evolution of farming, with farmers focusing on efficiency, diversification, and innovative methods to ensure sustainability.
COVID and the Remote Work Trend
Opportunities for Rural Areas: With the rise of remote work due to the pandemic, Gerard believes rural areas have a unique opportunity to attract businesses and talent. He emphasizes the role of technology in facilitating this shift.
Trust in Remote Work: The discussion touches upon the challenges of remote work, especially the trust factor between employers and employees.
Advice for Budding Entrepreneurs
Understanding the Customer: Gerard stresses the importance of knowing who the primary customer is and understanding their needs to ensure business success.
Perseverance and Adaptability: Gerard's advice to budding entrepreneurs revolves around the themes of perseverance, adaptability, and understanding one's customer.
This episode offers a wealth of knowledge for anyone interested in entrepreneurship, housing market dynamics, and the unique challenges and opportunities presented by rural settings.
Interview with entrepreneur and philanthropist: Gerard Buckley
00:00 - 08:22 | Introduction, Entrepreneurial Roots and Angel Investing Experience
Gerard introduces himself as the team leader and mortgage broker for Buckley Mortgage Broker, a subset of Mortgage Wellness.
Gerard's entrepreneurial spirit was ignited at a young age, with his first venture being a paper route he acquired at nine years old through a game of blackjack.
His professional journey led him to spend 25 years in capital markets, specifically dealing with interest rates and currency for Scotia Capital.
Post-Scotia, in 2008, Gerard transitioned into the angel investment realm with Maple Leaf Angels. Over nine years, he assessed hundreds of businesses, offering mentorship and gaining insights into the strengths and weaknesses of various ventures.
After dedicating over three decades to Toronto, Gerard relocated to Georgian Bay. Initially contemplating a wine business, a conversation with a real estate friend redirected him towards the mortgage industry, addressing a local need for ethical mortgage brokers.
By March 2017, Gerard was officially licensed, marking the inception of his current business venture, which has now spanned a little over seven years.
08:22 - 19:22 | Philanthropy
Gerard delves into his business philosophy and philanthropic endeavors.
Emphasizing the role of technology, Gerard aims to streamline his business operations, focusing on efficiency, paperless processes, and growth.
While larger markets like Toronto offer vast potential, Gerard's decision to establish his business in Georgian Bay stems from his belief in working and living in the same place.
His philanthropic journey is deeply influenced by his mother's pre-war era stories and his personal experiences with the Cadet Program.
Recognizing the importance of supporting youth and future leaders, Gerard strategically shifted from supporting numerous charities to concentrating on a few, particularly youth-centric initiatives.
He actively supports the YMCA's various programs, including the aquatic scholarship program, youth leadership, and an inclusive Halloween party for children with learning challenges. Additionally, he contributes to the Saugeen Memorial Hospital Foundation and the National Cadet program.
A testament to his commitment to giving back, Gerard donates 10% of his business's top-line revenue to philanthropic causes, underscoring his dedication to community betterment.
19:22 - 27:35 | What’s Going on with the Housing Market?
Gerard highlights that people today are living longer, thus occupying their homes for more extended periods. This trend, coupled with Canada's significant annual immigration influx of about 450,000 new residents, has created a supply-demand imbalance in housing.
Despite this influx, only around 225,000 to 240,000 new housing units are being constructed each year. The Canadian housing regulator, CMHC, anticipates a need for an additional 3.5 million homes by 2030.
This housing shortfall is further intensified by stagnant incomes that aren't keeping pace with the escalating costs of homes. This disparity makes homeownership increasingly challenging for many, especially the younger generation.
Gerard also expresses concerns about the future challenges the aging baby boomer population might face, especially in the context of societal priorities. He reflects on the pandemic's lessons, emphasizing the apparent societal inclination to prioritize certain freedoms over the well-being of seniors in residences.
This observation raises pressing questions about society's future approach to addressing the needs of its aging population.
27:35 - 29:24 | Accessible Housing
In the segment the discussion revolves around innovative solutions to address the immediate challenges of accessible housing.
Gerard points out an intriguing perspective: while there's a perceived shortage of housing, there's an abundance of available bedrooms in Canada. Specifically, there are 12 million available bedrooms, with 7 million of those located in the GTA (Golden Horseshoe Area).
These figures suggest that many homes are "over-housed," with couples living in residences that have five or more bedrooms. By connecting just 2.3 to 3.3 million of these available bedrooms with those in need, the housing crisis could be significantly alleviated.
However, the challenge lies in bridging the gap between those who have these available bedrooms and those who need them.
Gerard notes that while some families, particularly new multicultural Canadians and indigenous peoples, are open to multi-generational living arrangements, this isn't as common among Anglo-Saxon Canadians.
29:24 - 37:05 | The Opportunities and Challenges for Rural Entrepreneurs
In the discussion about the opportunities and challenges for rural entrepreneurs, Chris asks about the strengths and challenges of rural entrepreneurship compared to urban settings.
Gerard emphasized that people in rural areas grow up understanding the need to be self-reliant, often due to the lack of large employers.
He highlighted the significance of farming in rural communities, noting that farmers today focus on efficiency, using technology, and diversifying their product mix.
We talked about the role of financial institutions, investors, and policymakers in supporting rural entrepreneurship. Gerard expressed concerns about policymakers working in short cycles, often focused on re-election, and criticized their lack of foresight in addressing issues like housing and education.
Girard also mentioned that financial institutions are risk-averse and primarily focused on their shareholders, while individual investors seek opportunities with the fastest returns, often in communities with fewer regulatory burdens.
38:52 - 41:48 | COVID and Remote Work Trend
In the discussion about the impact of COVID and the remote work trend, Chris posed a question regarding the potential for rural areas to attract businesses and talent due to the rise of remote work and digital transformation.
Gerard responded affirmatively, emphasizing that the most significant impact is seen in the technology sector. He pointed out that computer programmers, especially those working for major tech companies, can work remotely from rural areas, provided there's decent internet connectivity.
He cited several Ontario communities, such as Markdale, Hanover, and Walkerton, as examples of places with more affordable housing and proximity to major airports, making them attractive for remote workers.
However, Gerard also highlighted a challenge for large organizations like banks. The issue isn't whether their employees can work from home, but whether middle management feels they can effectively manage their remote employees.
He contrasted this with smaller businesses, suggesting that individuals like Chris and himself might have more trust in their employees working remotely than large institutions like the Royal Bank.
41:48 - 44:29 | Parting Thoughts and Advice for Rural Entrepreneurs
In this concluding segment, Chris thanked Gerard for his insights and posed a final question, seeking advice for budding entrepreneurs based on Gerard's extensive experience.
Gerard emphasized the importance of perseverance and not limiting oneself. He believes that the only barriers to success are time and personal effort.
A crucial piece of advice he offered is the need to understand one's customer. Entrepreneurs should be clear about who is paying them and why.
In Gerard's business, while consumers might see themselves as the primary customers, it's the lenders who pay most of the fees.
However, it's essential to attract consumers to bring them to those lenders. Gerard's perspective underscores the importance of recognizing the primary source of revenue and catering to their needs.
Chris expressed his gratitude for Gerard's participation in the Rural Entrepreneur Podcast series, to which Gerard responded with appreciation for the opportunity and the engaging conversation they had.
About Gerard Bentley
Gerard has been working in the financial industry for over 40 years, helping individuals and companies strategically plan for accelerated levels of growth at Mortgage Wellness, Scotia Capital, Maple Leaf Angels and Jaguar Capital where he is Managing Director.
Gerard, is a Licenced Mortgage Broker, A Seniors Mortgage Professional, a Certified Luxury Mortgage Adviser and a Certified Reverse Mortgage Specialist who specializes in mortgages for Residential, Investment and Commercial Properties.
Gerard is an experienced professional with a long record of Integrity and Trust with his clients. Because of his service to customers Gerard has a history of receiving accolades and awards as a result of this service.
Besides being a Fellow of The Institute of Canadian Bankers he is also a Certified Corporate Director and Certified Management Consultant where his integrity and trust with clients are held in the highest order. In addition,
Gerard is a recipient if The Institute of Canadian Banker’s Gold Medal for Academic Excellence and a Member of Scotiabank’s Chairman’s Club Award.
Gerard has a passion for real estate and investment and he takes pride in providing financial education to his clients. He is a frequent speaker on subjects related to Real Estate Financing, Governance, Angel Investment, Growth Alternative Financing, Entrepreneurialism, and Corporate Social Responsibility and is a frequent published author in Private Capital Markets, itbusiness.ca, Entrevestor and other publications.
Gerard Buckley is Past - Chairperson of Maple Leaf Angels Corporation where he successfully set strategic direction and grew the organization over four years and in 2015 was named Angel Investor of the Year.
He served as a member on the Small and Medium Enterprise Committee of The Ontario Securities Commission and has served on the board of an Exempt Market Dealer. Gerard is currently Lead Director and founder of The General Partner of MLA48LP an angel invested fund.
About the Rural Entrepreneur Podcast Series
The Rural Entrepreneur Podcast Series delves into the stories of rural entrepreneurs, exploring their struggles, triumphs, and the driving force behind their perseverance. The conversations are profound and insightful. If you're interested in being a sponsor or guest, feel free to contact us or book some time with Chris.