Speaking to The Adviser, the director of Calculated Lending, Bianca Patterson, said: “People had explained to me that [being a woman in this industry] could be a disadvantage, but I really see it as my biggest advantage. I know that I am the minority and I have a really niche market.
“There are a lot of women that are the sole income earners in their household and that's happening more and more. So, the people that are willing to take advice from another strong independent woman [is] a growing market and I see it as probably, along with my age, one of my greatest opportunities.
While the mortgage broking industry has historically been patriarchal, there has been increasing focus on boosting the number of women working in the profession. For example, in November, Aussie Home Loans said it wanted to bridge the gender divide in its business and set itself a target of having a 50:50 split between male and female brokers by 2018.
According to Ms Patterson, having strong female role models in the industry is key, and she credits her mother as being her own inspiration.
She explained: “We grew up in a little bit of a non-traditional family. Growing up, my mum worked full time and my dad didn't, so, it really meant that with one income and three young children, we had to really budget well and use the money in the best way possible. I learned [that] from my mum and I feel she was able to do with probably a smaller amount of money than other families, and we were always looked after and we always had everything we needed.
“So, I grew up knowing a lot about money and seeing someone manage it very well… but there isn't anything in schools that teaches children about how to manage money or the best way to use it, so it's really important to me now, the education side.”
Brokers v online lenders
The sole operator, who specialises in investment mortgages, said that educating clients on finance was one of the reasons why she decided to start her own business in the first place.
She said: “I really wanted the opportunity to be able to give back and do more in the education space. While [my last employer] really supported that, it's a lot easier to do that when you run your own business and you can run your own diary and your own time, because then you're responsible for what revenue you bring in, but also what you can give back.”
According to Ms Patterson, education is a crucial part of a broker’s job. She said: “I think brokers need to sell themselves on the fact that they can give advice, not on the fact that they can get the best loan rate. The interest rate is really the last thing that I talk to my clients about, and a lot of them are trying to find it before you even discuss it… I'll always try to do the best deal for my clients, but if they're really that specific on [an] absolute fixed rate, we're just not the right fit.
“So much of what I do in the investment space is getting them the right structure and choosing the right lender so it doesn't affect their property journey. A lot of my clients want to buy five to 10 properties over the next 10 years and going to an online lender and making the wrong decision just on rates can actually set them back quite a few years in their property purchase journey.
“That's why advice is so critical and why I am one of the investment specialists here in Western Australia; because online lenders don't understand that. They're looking at PAYG 80 per cent — and that's just not my client base.”
While Ms Patterson concedes that “there is still room in the market for online lenders”, she believes that they should work with, rather than against, brokers.
“I think in the future they’re going to make our jobs so much easier… when they come to the broker space,” she told The Adviser. “It will give me more time to sit in front of my clients and educate them, more time to give advice and less time sitting in front of the computer trying to get a deal into the system. So, I don't see them as my competition at all.
“I don't think we need to worry, we need to embrace change because that technology will one day be available to us in a different form and it will just make all of our lives easier.”
[Related: Mortgage giant targets female brokers]