Broking a great place for women to lead and thrive

Industry leaders reflect on International Women's Day

Broking a great place for women to lead and thrive



The broking industry faces challenges with diversity and women’s participation, but the incredible achievements of others set it up for a more sustainable future, according to three industry leaders.

MFAA CEO Anja Pannek (pictured above left), NextGen head of broker partnerships Renee Blethyn (pictured above centre) and MoneyPlace CEO Kylie Waldock have all said there is huge potential to benefit from more women in the industry.

However the MFAA’s Opportunities for Women survey has found the number of female brokers dropped to 25.5% in the six months to March 2022, the lowest since the research began.

This is despite 65.1% of respondents in the survey agreeing businesses that support greater diversity will have a business advantage in regard to customers, employee engagements and referral partners.

“The MFAA’s research has shown its members – male and female – believe that unconscious bias is the biggest barrier for women entering our industry – and staying in our industry,” Pannek said.

“We’ve made tools available on our MFAA website to help people understand what unconscious bias is and how they can more aware of their own biases. We need to keep the conversation alive. The more women share their stories, the more we’ll learn about how we can do better as an industry.”

Blethyn said the research conducted by the MFAA indicated there was a variety of reasons why the industry was not seeing participation increase in the way that many would hope for. However, she said that over the long-term trailblazers were changing the industry for women.

“I’m grateful for the women who have paved the way for the industry as it is today,” said Blethyn. “When I first entered the industry it was definitely a different place, and you didn’t see as many women in leadership roles. There is a variety of people who have paved that path.”

“There’ve been some incredible advocates – who are not always women. I’m inspired by those with solid values around truth, honesty, integrity, courage and bravery and a strong work ethic, who have not been afraid to stand alone and have a voice when they want to see and inspire change.”

Women proving broking a great industry in which to lead

March 8 is International Women’s Day, a day designed to celebrate women’s achievements and drive change towards a world that is more diverse, equitable and inclusive, including for women.

Pannek said the mortgage and finance broking industry already contains so many examples of outstanding female leadership, with amazing women leading from the front in their businesses.

“What inspires me most is their customer centricity, their tenacity and entrepreneurial drive,” Pannek said. “I’m also inspired by the community I see so many of these great women creating - how they work together to provide support to each other.”

“There’ve been some fantastic leaders in our industry,” Blethyn said. “I’m really excited about some of the young leaders coming through, some of whom are not just building incredible businesses helping customers navigate financial complexity but giving back to the community as well.”

Waldock said there was so many women in the industry who know and believe in themselves.

“What inspires me is when I see women staying true to themselves without feeling the need to conform or ‘fit in’,” said Waldock. “Being proud of being a woman. I think we should be past feeling that we must prove ourselves, it has already been done. So, let’s keep going!”

The industry offers a range of choices for women in terms of the type of career and job roles, as well as a great amount of flexibility in the way they can structure their work, Blethyn said.

“For brokers, once you get past the first couple of years you can set your hours of work and structure a business so you have a team that supports you,” she said. “That enables women to do the array of things women tend to do like run a family and a whole range of other things.”

Blethyn added a unique advantage for the industry was less of an issue with a gender pay gap.

“A good thing about broking for women is that, depending on the business model, there is not a gender pay gap when it comes to commissions paid for lending – it’s all the same for a lender.

“I really hope that as an industry we can become a business community that does attract really good people, women or any gender, because it is just a fantastic industry to work in.”

Pannek said there was there so much opportunity in broking for all people, including women. She said broking was an “incredibly rewarding career”, and that people in the industry were usually satisfied by helping their clients reach their goals.

“I also see the satisfaction women get being able to run their own business and lead their teams. You can do this on your own terms and what we see from great businesses across Australia – do this very successfully,” she said.

“Many of our female members also go above and beyond and are able to combine an issue they are deeply passionate about in their community – if that’s financial literacy, or a charity – with their business value proposition as well.”

The future of the industry contains great opportunities for women

Pannek said more Australians than ever were choosing a broker for important decisions like financing a house or funding a business, and what was important over the long-term would be sustainability.

“Sustainability is about attracting great diverse talent into the industry and importantly ensuring diversity is front and centre. We need a diverse industry – in particular greater female participation to service and support the needs of the Australian community,” she said.

Women who want to forge a future for themselves in mortgage broking or finance have been advised to be themselves first, but also to reach out and connect with the industry community.

“In my opinion, it comes down to believing and backing yourself. Instead of looking for or seeing the obstacles, look for the opportunities it presents and where you can add value,” Waldock said. “Do it but be yourself. Trying to please others by being someone you're not can be both exhausting and limiting. However, it’s important to remember you’re not in this alone.”

“Find the people that resonate with you in terms of values, and if what they have achieved is something you are aspiring to, seek them out and ask them your burning questions,” Blethyn said.

“The thing about this industry is everybody is so willing to share and wanting to help each other, because it only helps all of us if we all have great businesses. Don’t be shy about asking for help, a lot of women want to give back and make it easier for the person who comes after them.”

Pannek said women should stay connected and get involved with a close and supportive community, including other brokers and business owners, and focus on getting the right team around them.

After that, it was about focusing on the value proposition that only they can bring to their business. “And of course – make sure you take care of yourself, so you can be the best you can,” said Pannek.

Related Stories

Keep up with the latest news and events

Join our mailing list, it’s free!