One of Australia’s largest mortgage brokerages has revealed that it has set itself a target of having a 50:50 split between male and female brokers in the next two years.
Aussie Home Loans has said that it wanted to bridge the gender divide by increasing the amount of females in its brokerage, and has already started to see increases in the number of women joining the company.
Speaking to The Adviser, Aussie Home Loans’ general manager for people & culture, Lynda Harris, said that the company is increasingly seeing more women joining Aussie stores, which she attributes to the fact that “some women are more comfortable working in a store rather than going into people’s homes” and that “stores are introducing part-time roles with flexible hours enabling mothers to become brokers, which has substantially added to the numbers”.
Indeed, between the financial years 2015 and 2016, the proportion of new female mobile brokers increased by 10 per cent in South Australia (from 23 per cent to 33 per cent), by 3 per cent in Victoria (to 31 per cent), and by 4 per cent in Western Australia (to 35 per cent).
Likewise, the number of new female retail brokers rose in both South Australia and Victoria last year too, with the southern state seeing numbers rise 5 per cent (to 33 per cent), while Victoria’s numbers grew by 4 per cent to 42 per cent.
Overall, the number of all female mobile brokers have increased in Western Australia from 33 per cent to 35 per cent, and in South Australia from 20 per cent to 25 per cent, while Victoria has seen all female retail brokers rise from 28 per cent to 36 per cent.
Ms Harris said that the company has now set itself a target of having women make up half of all its brokers in the next two years.
She said this will be achieved in a number of ways, such as “ensuring we have female brokers speak at our Broker Information Nights, so women can talk directly to another woman to understand more about the role of a broker, running events targeted at female brokers, and encouraging our existing female brokers to refer others females to become a broker.”
Ms Harris added that the brand will also target women by “ensuring advertising and testimonials have a female focus”.
For example, Aussie’s new $25 million marketing campaign, will see the release of a television advert that will feature a female broker.
Richard Burns, Aussie’s general manager of customer, told The Adviser that the company’s new marketing strategy decided to move away from having John Symond (“Aussie John”) as the figurehead to having different people, in a bid to represent “the broad spectrum of Aussie brokers”.
Mr Burns commented: “It's almost mission impossible to replace someone like John. He is so unique and iconic and has done an amazing job, so we deliberately didn’t want to do that. That's why we're using different people to play different brokers in our advertising; to help people realise that what John has created is much bigger than a single person…
“Of the two more ads we have coming out, we’ll have the man who played Aussie in the last advert, but the other one will feature a female broker representing Aussie. That's because many of our brokers are women, and increasingly, many of our customers are women too. So, we really want to make sure that the customers and brokers in our advertising are reflective of who we are and who our customers are.”
The mortgage industry has historically been male-dominated in Australia, and has come under criticism for failing to employ more women, despite some stating that female brokers capture more business than their male counterparts
Further, there have been concerns that some players in the mortgage industry were not recruiting enough women, with a former executive manager at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia telling The Adviser earlier this year that, despite aggregation groups and industry bodies pushing to encourage more women to enter the broking industry, aggregators were failing to lead by example.
Kathy Cummings said: “The thing I’ve always found interesting is that there are no females heading up the big aggregation groups. As a matter of fact, they are very thin on the ground, as far as having senior women.”
[Related: FAST continues support for female brokers]