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How these leading ladies overcame challenges to succeed

amp adrienne evelyn clark amp adrienne evelyn clark
Annie Kane 9 minute read

WOMEN IN FINANCE MONTH: AMP Bank’s Adrienne Smith and Accession Finance’s Evelyn Clark reveal how they overcame the challenges they faced when they first started out and what they think could be done to encourage more women in the industry.

Speaking to The Adviser’s In Focus podcast, partnered by AMP Bank, the lender’s director of distribution, Adrienne Smith, and the recently named Mortgage and Finance Broker of the Year at the Women in Finance Awards, Accession Finance’s Evelyn Clark, revealed how they overcame challenges to get to where they are now.

According to Ms Smith, having a mentor that doesn’t challenge you can eventually hold you back from growing as much as you could.

The director of distribution explained: “It’s very easy, in the early days, to have somebody who you consider a mentor that you feel incredibly comfortable with. [While that’s] great because you really enjoy seeing them [and] you walk away feeling wonderful [but] that actually might not do you a great deal of good. 

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“I think, personally, any mentors that I’ve had over the years have been very different to me, have made me feel quite uncomfortable [professionally]... maybe with [different] views. Sometimes we have biases, unconscious bias and blind spots, and you need people to challenge you on those and break the mould.

“Certainly, sometimes at the beginning of the relationship, I wondered what I’d done. But I think growth doesn’t come with comfort. Growth comes, sometimes, with that awkwardness and getting right out of your comfort zone. And that’s hard.  And it doesn’t... get any easier either. But that’s something that I learned.”

Meanwhile, Accession Finance’s Evelyn Clark outlined how self-belief and self-confidence was one of her main challenges when she first started her broking career.

She said: “Probably some of the biggest challenges that I had to overcome personally were my own self-esteem and building my confidence and being able to speak to people that were experts in their own industries and their own businesses. [They] might’ve been far older than me, and yet I was the one that they were pouring out their personal and financial information to. 

“I think I took a lot of that responsibility on my shoulders, as well. [T]here were definitely times, early on, when I was petrified of making mistakes. 

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“I have a friend who’s just starting up a new job in a completely different field, but it will be her first full-time job in that industry. And she’s very, very excited, but very nervous about it. And I said to her: ‘If I can give you one piece of advice, it’s that you have to expect that you are going to make mistakes because no one is perfect. The best thing that you can do is to, obviously, learn from those’.

“It sounds so cliche, but it is one of the biggest realisations and lessons that I had to learn.

“When I’d made a mistake, I really had to sit down and problem-solve my way through it. Then, once I’d come up with an appropriate solution, I was able to then be quite assertive and say to the client or the person that I was speaking to, that I had a solution and that I knew exactly what was going to fix this. That just grew my confidence further…. but definitely right at the beginning, I was quite shy and quite nervous.”

Noting that less than a third of brokers in the industry are women (and that the number of female brokers has been dropping recently), Ms Smith and Ms Clark were asked what could be done to encourage more women into the industry.

Ms Smith suggested that new entrants could be provided with hands-on assistance and best practice guidance in the form of shadowing others.

She told the In Focus podcast: “[O]ne of the things that I’ve always found amazing about this industry (and, in particular the third-party space) is the sharing. There actually isn’t huge competition between organisations, and they are very happy to invite each other into their offices and share best practices.

“So, I think we just need to just put some more formality around something like that,” she said.

Ms Smith outlined that she once called up a brokerage in North Sydney and asked if she could bring someone in for a day to shadow them and “they were just over the moon to welcome that”.

She continued: “If we see there are opportunities to bring more women into the industry, some who might be completely inexperienced, let’s make sure that we open up and go to all those people who are continually saying: ‘Yes, come to our office. Yes, you can spend a day walking in the shoes of a broker’, and we actually take up those offers. Because I know they’re out there.

“The assistance is out there. I think with it... whether it’s yourself, or somebody else, or an industry body, [there could be] a bit more of a framework over it to [highlight] these opportunities that are here for, in particular, young women coming through… to actually get a taste of what this is.”

Ms Clark agreed, stating that she had learned by learning from shadowing and “being thrown in the deep end”.

“Watching someone else that is experienced that you can learn from, I think, is the best way to learn,” she said.

Tune in to the In Focus podcast, partnered by AMP Bank, to find out more from director of distribution, Adrienne Smith, and Accession Finance’s Evelyn Clark, the Women in Finance Awards’ Mortgage and Finance Broker of the Year. 

Make sure you are subscribed to The Adviser’s Elite Broker podcast to find out more about Evelyn Clark – and check out our interview with her in the November edition of The Adviser magazine, too – out now!

The month of November marks The Adviser’s Women in Finance month, as we profile some of the leading women in this industry. As well as the themed magazine, we’ll also be having female-centric podcasts and running profiles and content in the daily bulletin, too.

[Related: In Focus: Celebrating women in finance]

How these leading ladies overcame challenges to succeed
amp adrienne evelyn clark
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Annie Kane

Annie Kane

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. 

Email Annie at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

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