The number and proportion of female brokers have dropped to a record low, according to the MFAA.
The Mortgage and Finance Association of Australia (MFAA) has noted that, despite overall broker numbers increasing, the proportion and number of women working as brokers have dropped to a new low.
The findings come in the association’s 12th edition of its Intelligence Service Report (IIS), which draws on data supplied by 12 aggregators over the six months from 1 October 2020 to 31 March 2021.
The most recent IIS report has shown that over the October-March period, there was a record number of brokers writing commercial loans and that the channel settled the largest volume of residential mortgages ($121.8 billion) since its reporting began in 2015.
While the report found that the broker industry population operating under these 12 groups had continued to grow to reach 16,968 brokers (the second consecutive period of growth since September 2018), the number of women in the industry had dropped.
According to the gender-specific data provided by the aggregators, there was a decrease of 83 female brokers in the industry, taking the total number of female brokers to 3,209 (down 2.52 per cent period-on-period).
The proportion of female brokers in the industry has seen a significant decrease of 1.3 percentage points in the current period, to 25.8 per cent, the lowest proportion observed.
This represents a reduction of 58 female brokers (down 1.78 per cent) when compared year-on-year.
MFAA chief executive Mike Felton observed: “Disappointingly... the proportion of female brokers has seen a decline to the lowest observed level, even as the total broker population recovered and increased period-on-period.”
However, while the number and proportion of women in this industry continue to fall, more women are being recruited into industry.
The IIS report shows that there were 420 women recruited into industry during the six-month period, the largest number recorded since 2017. This represented around 30 per cent of all new recruits.
Year-on-year, the number of female recruits has grown by 43 or 11.41 per cent, whilst male recruits increased by 107 or 12.36 per cent.
Period-on-period, the number of female recruits grew by 8 or 1.94 per cent, whilst male recruits decreased by 19 or 1.92 per cent.
The MFAA has also been working to explore the reasons why women remain under-represented in the mortgage and finance broking industry, through its ongoing Opportunities for Women (OFW) initiative, which suggests that there is a growing recognition in industry that there may be barriers to women joining the industry.
When asked what the top barriers to participation in the industry last year, the top barrier cited by both male and female respondents was “unconscious beliefs about gender roles in the workplace”.
The federal government’s Assistant Minister for Women, senator Amanda Stoker, recently put forward her advice for bolstering female representation in the finance industry following a virtual dinner on “How Liberal values can deliver a fair go for Australian women”, hosted by the Aston 200 Club on 8 September.
In the interview – conducted by Paul Stone, the CEO of short-term business lender HomeSec Business Finance (which sponsored the Aston 200 Club dinner) – the Assistant Minister for Women suggested that a large part of increasing the profile of women in the finance space was increasing the confidence of women already in the space.
You can find out more tips on how to raise the profile of women in the finance industry through the new Women in Finance network hub, which includes commentary, insights, profiles and opinion pieces from some of Australia’s leading women in finance.
Momentum Media’s Women in Finance Awards 2021 will take place as an in-person awards ceremony on 10 December 2021.
Annie Kane is the editor of The Adviser and Mortgage Business.
As well as writing about the Australian broking industry, the mortgage market, financial regulation, fintechs and the wider lending landscape – Annie is also the host of the Elite Broker and In Focus podcasts and The Adviser Live webcasts.
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