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Diversity is ‘good for culture’: MFAA head

by Kate Aubrey11 minute read
Diversity is ‘good for culture’: MFAA head

MFAA’s chief executive Anja Pannek wants to encourage more diversity and inclusion within the mortgage broking industry.

New Mortgage & Finance Association of Australia MFAA CEO Anja Pannek said alongside her priorities to support members and properly address the issue of clawbacks, encouraging diversity and inclusion in the mortgage broking sector was important.

Ms Pannek replaced retiring CEO Mike Felton earlier this month (5 September) and brings extensive experience in leadership roles in the broker and mortgage distribution space.

In an exclusive interview with The Adviser, Ms Pannek said it was an “absolute privilege” and an incredible responsibility to be a female CEO to lead the MFAA going forward, recognising the significant work of her predecessor.


“I do expect it is going to cause us to have a conversation around diversity and then inclusion because it is such a public position in our industry,” Ms Pannek said.

The comments come ahead of The Adviser’s Women in Finance Awards in November, which has returned for the sixth consecutive year to recognise the women leading the charge across the finance industry.

Ms Pannek said recognising and shining a light on women in leadership roles was important to encourage more diversity in the workplace.

“It’s my belief that broking, like every other industry, should strive to be representative of the community that it serves,” she said.

“Its just good for business… and at the end of the day, its good for culture.”

However, according to the 13th edition of the MFAA’s Industry Intelligence Service Report (IIS) — just over 25 per cent of brokers were women, the lowest proportion observed in the past six years.

She explained one factor for the decline in the proportion of women in the industry could be the pandemic that disrupted many families and small-business owners and saw women taking up the primary caregiver role.

“I think women often and in particular, in COVID stepped into a lot of homeschooling, and all the rest — that could have been a factor in terms of what we’ve seen more recently,” Ms Pannek said.

However, it was part of the MFAA’s role to encourage more “gender diversity” and “broader diversity” of businesses to support higher retention rates, adding the MFAA can continue to do research and “shine a light” on activity in the industry and lead initiatives.

“We need to actively promote this is a really great industry to work in and there are no barriers to people if it’s female, or any other ethnic backgrounds. Or through whatever lens you work at in terms of diversity,” she said.

“This is a great industry and we actively encourage people to be curious about it.”

More broadly, she said shifting metrics in any industry when it comes to diversity was a “really hard thing” and often comes down to unconscious bias and actively questioning why decisions are being made.

“I think it’s a question for all of us in industry around what decisions are we taking and what decision should we take to promote diversity?” Ms Pannek said.

“How do we open up avenues and opportunities to help brokers open up avenues and opportunities in their own business, to attract great talent and promote them?

“Who do we promote? Who do we hire? How do we reward as an association?”

She said having good role models was another “really important” aspect of success: I know weve got some amazing role models in this industry, the businesses they lead and how successful theyve been. I think we absolutely need to keep shining a light on them, as well.

“If I think about me personally, some of the success factors in being a woman succeeding in business, a lot of it comes down to personal decisions around the people that you work with and are surrounded by.”

The Adviser’s Women in Finance awards will be held on Thursday, 3 November at The Star in Sydney and set the benchmark for excellence while celebrating the outstanding contribution made by women to propel the industry.

[Related: Clawbacks vs cashbacks: New MFAA CEO speaks]

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