Ethically thinking--Thoughts from a general, a mayor and a good friendGary Oppermorals and ethics, best practices, code of ethics
As mortgage originators and members of the mortgage industry, we
should strive to hold ourselves to a high standard. Many good and
honest people are tempted by money and power to lie, cheat and
steal. Perhaps the following thoughts will help you to stay on the
What would the folks shopping at 7-11
Lt. Gen. Robert Milligan, the former Florida comptroller, regulated
mortgage brokers in Florida and signed the checks to pay the
state's bills. As a public official, he set a high example.
After being elected, Milligan bought a coach airline ticket to
fly to a meeting. Florida law allowed him to fly first class but
Milligan declined the upgrade. According to Milligan, it didn't
pass the "7-11 test." That is, how would the people down at the
7-11 convenience store view what you were about to do?
The story stems from an incident that occurred in the late
1980s. President George Bush Sr. needed to know the militarys
position on a treaty. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,
Adm. William J. Crowe Jr., called the top ranking military officers
Gen. Al Gray, commandant of the Marine Corps, exclaimed, "They
don't think much of the treaty at the 7-11." After an incredulous
stare from Crowe, Gray explained that he went down to the 7-11 each
Sunday to buy the newspaper. While at the 7-11, he discussed
current affairs, including the treaty, with the folks at the store.
Subsequently, when questioned by the president regarding the
treaty, Crowe gave the president the 7-11 answer.
Milligan asks the employees of the Comptroller's Office to apply
the "7-11 test" when making a decision. Applying this to you, would
the folks at 7-11 think that you are treating your clients fairly?
Would the folks at 7-11 think that you are acting honorably and
that you have done the right thing?
Could 60 Minutes twist your actions into a
If the camera operators and crew from 60 Minutes followed you
around, would they find your life boring and dull? If 60 Minutes
could find a story in any of your actions or transactions, then you
should re-evaluate your actions.
What would the newspaper headline say?
Former Weston, Fla. Mayor Harry Rosen stays on the ethical course
by asking, What would tomorrow's newspaper headline read? Would my
actions create a sizzling headline? Or, would the newspaper pass on
reporting my dull and boring life?"
Newspapers are interested in controversy. Boy Scouts dont make
headlines. Your dull, honest, ethical and boring transactions
should not interest any newspaper.
What would the good guys do?
Since our first day at Orlando, Fla.'s Boone High School, Jeff
McKinney has been my best friend. Besides being honest, I believe
he is fair and considerate. In knowing what Jeff would do, I know
the correct, ethical path.
Hopefully, you have a Jeff McKinney with whom you can compare
yourself. If you dont, you may want to think about what a friend,
mentor, historical religious figure, relative or your cleric would
Special attention for mortgage brokers
As mortgage originators, we have a special responsibility to deal
ethically and honestly with our customers. Half-truths are not
whole truths; they are hole truths. You and your employees should
not tolerate partial, incomplete or misleading disclosures.
Business owners and managers establish an offices ethics. Owners
and managers should be extraordinarily ethical and honest.
Employees should only associate themselves with owners, managers
and colleagues who have good reputations in the industry.
Fraudulent verifications and altered documents are never right.
It is not fair to a customer to jeopardize their loan. It certainly
isn't fair to the lender. Encouraging an appraiser to "push" a real
estate value is not fair to you, your customer, the appraiser or
High ethics are not corny. Living ethically will allow you to
achieve a better life with less stress. Think about your actions
and try each day with every transaction to live a little more
ethically today than you did yesterday. You may be surprised at how
much better you feel about yourself and the world! You will enjoy
more professional success by thinking ethically!
Gary Opper is president of Weston, Fla.-based Approved
Financial Corporation. He may be reached at (954) 384-4557 or