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WOMEN IN FINANCE BLAZE A TRAIL Female brokers and finance professionals are continuing to climb the corporate ladder – and they’re building successful careers along the way. We chat to a number of women in the running for top AMA awards about their experiences in the finance industry today

there is still some way

THOUGH to go in boosting the

participation of women in the mortgage industry – only around 25% of its workforce is comprised of females (according to MFAA figures) – there’s no denying that a growing number of high-profile women in finance are blazing their own paths forward. At Australian Broker, we’re always keen to celebrate those in the industry who are kicking goals in their careers and helping others get ahead along the way. In fact, for this year’s Australian Mortgage Awards in October, dozens of women have been nominated across categories such as Young Gun of the Year, Broker of the Year and Brokerage of the Year, to name a few. More than mere multitaskers with a knack for numbers, females in finance bring their own unique qualities to an industry that can be known for being ‘black and white’. Empathetic, generous and creative, with a predisposition to problemsolving and strategic thinking, women can bring that personal element to the broking process. One such woman taking great strides in the industry is Melissa Ashcroft, general manager of the ‘AAA’ Financial Group, which has finance broking, planning and wholesale fund management arms. AAA Mortgages has been in business for 35 years and offers both residential and commercial lending; as a mortgage manager it has over 1,100 accredited brokers. 20

“As well as being general manager of AAA, I work on commercial development finance, so I mainly do commercial brokerage. I love my job because it’s intellectually challenging while being fulfilling. I get to work with so many different people, from small business owners to big developers – and ultimately my job is to help make their dreams come true,” says Ashcroft, who is a finalist for the AMA’s Broker of the Year – Commercial award. “There’s nothing better than

how far we’ve come in the last few years, with undoubtedly more women in mortgage broking than ever before, but there still remain broader societal obstacles that dissuade some women from entering the finance industry,” she says. “As a woman in the industry today, I feel incredibly supported and that I have the tools to succeed, but I am very privileged to feel this way. Improvement will come from making sure every woman, no matter her cultural or social background, feels the same

“I see my role as a broker as one that financially empowers people and gives them the tools to change their circumstances” Melissa Ashcroft, general manager, ‘AAA’ Financial Group knowing you’ve helped someone finance a project that has been in the works for years, or you’ve helped a small business owner get their first loan. I see my role as a broker as one that financially empowers people and gives them the tools to change their circumstances in any way they want.” While Ashcroft believes there are “some great initiatives to support and encourage women in our industry”, she says there is “always room for improvement”. “It’s important to acknowledge

way. I hope we can further diversify the broking industry, which will serve only to strengthen the ideas, voices and industry standards we have today.” Ashcroft adds that females in finance are at a unique advantage in that they “have a natural ability and desire to offer help and solve problems – and that puts us in the ideal position to be a highly respected adviser to our clients”. “If you have a passion for this industry, then just be yourself and strive to provide the best service

you can. What you give to the industry and your clients will be paid back to you by way of a strong sense of respect, ability and job satisfaction,” she says. Kathy Dundas, mortgage broker at No Fuss Home Loans, agrees. When she started out in mortgage broking a little over 16 years ago, with two young sons to balance with her career, she stepped into the broking world to see if it would allow her the freedom to build her career and spend as much time with her children as possible. Since then, she’s seen plenty of change in the broking industry but says she can’t imagine another career or sector that offers the same benefits as the finance world. “Given my background in finance and conveyancing, I thought mortgage broking would be a good fit for me as I have always loved dealing directly with clients. Back then, I had the luxury of my husband working in a goodpaying role, so I was able to slowly build up my business without the pressure of having a strong income from day one. But my business has grown over the years into a very profitable and strong position, with an excellent trail income and a strong customer base – and with a reasonable amount of freedom that comes with being your own boss,” Dundas explains. “What I love about being a mortgage broker is the ability to assist clients to achieve their dreams, from the thrill of their first home purchase to building

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