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Winners of the 2021 Women in Finance Awards unveiled

by Malavika Santhebennur14 minute read
2021 Women in Finance Awards

The Adviser is thrilled to announce the winners of the 2021 Women in Finance Awards, which was held in person with over 550 people in attendance.

Following the live-stream broadcast in 2020 to adhere to COVID-19-related restrictions, The Adviser was pleased to celebrate the achievements of the leading women in the finance industry at an in-person awards luncheon at The Star in Sydney on Friday (10 December).

Hosted by Momentum Media, the national Women in Finance Awards presents an opportunity to recognise the successes of these women, and help propel their careers and attract more clients.

Run in partnership with principal partner Intuit QuickBooks, a total of 254 finalists competed across 28 submission-based categories for the 2021 awards.


There was also considerable anticipation and enthusiasm around who would emerge as the recipient of the prestigious Women in Finance Excellence Award 2021, the highest-scoring winner from the individual award categories.

Australian journalist, author, television presenter, and Member of the Order of Australia Jessica Rowe hosted the glamorous and moving luncheon awards, which acknowledged and appreciated the diversity, strength, dedication, and innovation female leaders bring to the financial services sector.

The keynote speech was delivered by senator Jane Hume, the new Minister for Women’s Economic Security and the Minister for Superannuation, Financial Services, and the Digital Economy.

There were 29 winners this year, including several players from the mortgage broking space.

Broking industry winners

The Mortgage and Finance Broker of the Year award was conferred to Zippy Financial principal broker Louisa Sanghera, whose hands-on support to clients during the COVID-19 crisis generated considerable loyalty, referrals, and repeat business, as well as 22 per cent year-on-year growth in her brokerage.

She also increased her online presence through Zippy-owned community groups, which have amassed an audience of over 100,000 engaged members in the local area and generated 65 per cent of her new inquires, representing $40 million in loan settlements for the year.

It has been a year of triumphs for Ms Sanghera, whose brokerage won the trophy for Best Customer Service (Office) at the NSW/ACT Better Business Awards 2021 earlier this year.

Just a week after winning the Rising Star award at the Australian Broking Awards, EverLend director and mortgage broker Evelyn Clark took home the Young Leader of the Year award for 2021.

She was commended for her financial literacy and property purchasing workshops, which include a female property investor workshop called “Property, Planning and Prosecco”, designed in tandem with a female financial planner and buyer’s advocate.

Heather Gallagher, outsource Financial’s state manager for NSW/ACT/South Australia and national education coordinator, also won her second award in as many weeks, after being named Business Development Professional of the Year. She had also celebrated winning the Mentor of the Year award at the Australian Broking Awards earlier this month.

Ms Gallagher has been busy delivering virtual learning festivals, which included sessions around business continuity planning, compliance best practices and enhancing technical skills around the outsource CRM, as well as sessions around self-managed superannuation fund (SMSF) lending, commercial lending for beginners, and understanding self-employed financials.

Major brokerage Mortgage Choice chief executive Susan Mitchell won the title of Chief Executive Officer of the Year amid what has been a busy couple of years for the brokerage. Earlier this year it merged with and officially joined the REA Group, and is due to begin operating as one brand, effective in 2022.

Ms Mitchell also oversaw Mortgage Choice’s development and launch of the “Aspire Program”, designed to nurture female talent across the network and led the roll-out of the group’s best interests duty (BID) program for brokers. This involved new automated processes, coordination between compliance and the learning and development teams, and extensive training of staff and franchisees around new software changes, compliance tools, and how to best navigate client journeys to remain BID compliant.

Ms Mitchell also engaged a full-time change manager and recruited additional training professionals, who educated more than 500 loan writers to become “BID-ready”.

Loan Market Group chief marketing officer Lisa Jackson was presented with the Marketing Professional of the Year award for leading, developing, and implementing an automated marketing solution for broker clients over 2020, which focuses on each stage of the marketing funnel.

The major brokerage’s broker marketing suite now includes websites, a lead capture landing page, a social media solution, automated email sequences, and reviewr, which gather customer feedback and online reviews on Google My Business (review numbers increased by 13 per cent in the first two months after launching “reviewr” in 2020).

Rounding out the winners from the broker industry in the individual categories was Finsure Finance & Insurance executive assistant Rivka Louwen, who won the Executive/Personal Assistant of the Year award.

Ms Louwen has spent the recent past expanding her skill set and going above and beyond her own role to be trained as an auditor during the COVID-19 crisis. She helped audit 1,500 brokers within the company and helped create a step-by-step handbook of the process for newly recruited staff members.

In the group categories, non-bank lender Liberty Financial was crowned Employer of the Year for actively promoting the career progression of women. As at 31 December 2020, 46 per cent of all employees, 40 per cent of managers, and 47 per cent of team leaders and coaches were women. Women also comprised more than 60 per cent of all internal promotions at the company during 2020.

The stellar achievements of women in other finance sectors such as accounting, tax, law, financial advice, superannuation, and SMSF, were also recognised through the course of the afternoon.

Annie Kane, editor of mortgages at Momentum Media, commented: “Since its inception in 2017, the whole concept of the Women in Finance Awards has been to champion and profile the amazing women working in financial services – an industry that has been, and remains, typically male-dominated.

“This year, the feeling of support and joy in the room was truly extraordinary. From the keynote speeches and acceptance speeches, it was evident that the Australian financial services industry is more than ready to see more women take centre stage.

“This was also demonstrated in the fact that we had a record number of people nominate their friends, colleagues and peers for a Women in Finance Award 2021. It shows a groundswell in the movement to create more female role models in this space.

“Congratulations to all of the winners of the fifth annual Women in Finance Awards who are helping more Australians than ever to manage their financial situations, improve their financial literacy and grow their businesses.”

The Adviser and Momentum Media would like to thank all of its partners for their invaluable support, including principal partner Intuit QuickBooks, platinum partner ANZ, gold partners Act2 Solutions, Australian Finance Group (AFG), the Finance Brokers Association of Australia (FBAA), NextGen.Net, Mortgage Ezy, outsource Financial, Mortgage Choice, and Sparrow Loans, event partner Wealth Inspired, philanthropic partner So They Can, and charity partner Breast Cancer Network Australia.

To view the full Women in Finance Awards’ winners list and for more information about the awards, click here.

[Related: Finalists revealed for Women in Finance Awards 2021]

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Malavika Santhebennur


Malavika Santhebennur is a content specialist at Momentum Media, focusing on mortgages and finance writing.

Before joining Momentum Media in 2019, Malavika held roles with Money Management and Benchmark Media, where she was writing about financial services.


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