Industry association Commercial & Asset Finance Brokers Association’s (CAFBA) says the commercial broking space reflects the demographics of banks 30 years ago – which means men still dominate the industry.
Only 10% of its members are women, which it admits is a confronting statistic in today’s society.
CAFBA president David Gandolfo said the commercial broking space is dealing with legacy issues associated with its creation.
“Since the majority of commercial finance brokers are former bank employees, the demographics of the profession reflect the demographics of the banks… 30 years ago,” he said.
But as the profession is handed from one generation to the next, he said it needs to transform.
“It needs to shed its image as largely dominated by males and begin to look like the customers that it is serving. Given that women and migrants are among the most likely to start small businesses, it makes sense that the association needs to play a role in helping the profession become more diverse.”
The association believes women can help lead this cultural change by taking more leadership roles in the industry.
To encourage this and to assist women in taking up leadership roles in commercial broking, CAFBA started a scholarship program three years ago with the assistance of Women & Leadership Australia.
The scholarship sends female CAFBA members to study Accelerated Leadership Performance Program and Executive Ready Program by the Australian School of Applied Management. The courses are part of the Women in Leadership Industry Partnership Program, which aims to work with industry associations to promote the importance of increasing women’s representation in senior leadership positions.
From awarding only five scholarships three years ago, CAFBA gave out 15 this year – bringing the total to 29.
“The first-year graduates became our ambassadors in encouraging more women to become involved. They spoke at our functions on their experiences, and wrote blogs and articles which we shared with members and the wider community,” said CAFBA CEO David Gill.
Gill said the association relies on the support of its affiliate members to fund the scholarships. This year’s scholarship donors include Westpac, Macquarie Leasing, TL Rentals, NAB, and Bank of Queensland.
Besides the scholarship program, the association is launching a new curriculum this this month – Certificate IV in Financial Services: Commercial and Asset Finance.
It expects the course, which is designed to train new entrants, to provide an opportunity for more women to join the commercial broking space.