WOMEN IN FINANCE MONTH: In September, Accession Finance broker Evelyn Clark was named the Mortgage and Finance Broker of the Year at the Women in Finance Awards 2020. We catch up with Evelyn to find out more about how she got to where she is today, and her plans for the future.
How did it feel to win the Mortgage and Finance Broker of the Year award?
I was extremely shocked, I just didn’t expect it, to be honest! I think it just shows that you don’t have to be the number one broker in terms of writing volumes; it’s far more about what you actually deliver to your clients now. For me, it really shows the way that broking can go in the future.
I [also felt it] consolidated the work that I’ve been putting in over the last couple of years and gives me a bit of an indication that I’m on the right track and I’m obviously doing things that are producing fantastic outcomes for clients. So, overall I’m just really excited about it.
How and why did you become a broker in the first place?
Everyone always says that they fall into particular areas and I did, too. While I was studying full time at uni (I was studying commerce and I was majoring in finance and management), I was working in a golf shop, Drummond Golf in Cheltenham.
My boss's wife was starting up her own broking business and he said: 'I know you're interested in finance. Why don't you go and have a chat to her?' And I did, and I was offered a job, almost on the spot!
I was thrown in the deep end and literally didn't even know what a mortgage was at this stage! But I was able to work for her on a part-time basis while I was still finishing up my studies. I was doing some of the admin and processing as a loan processor.
It wasn't until i started working directly with the clients and started to get that reward helping them that i realised that client-facing was where i wanted to be and then I became a broker. So, it took a couple of years in itself before I was a fully accredited broker.
I then joined Accession Finance and I've been with them now for about two and a half years. I've really enjoyed that I’ve been able to build my own personal brand under their umbrella and paint the picture of the mortgage journey with my clients in the way that I've always wanted to.
What was your experience of the broking industry when you first started?
When I started in the industry, I was completely surrounded by women. So, my situation probably wasn’t reflective of the entire industry at whole. I shadowed a female broker for the first 18 months to two years in my career in broking, and she was incredibly supportive and she also initiated a group of women from the broking industry who came together on a monthly basis. We were all in the broking industry, from various aggregators. It was largely business partners and friends that she had met on the way, and we sat down and discussed and workshopped ideas. So, I always felt very welcomed and supported.
It wasn’t until I started going to PD days or larger events that I would be one of only five women in the room. It’s funny how perspective changes.
What has been your biggest challenge as a mortgage broker? And how did you overcome it?
Right at the beginning of my career, I was quite nervous and quite shy. Some of the biggest challenges that I had to overcome personally was my own self-esteem and building my confidence. I was often speaking to people who were experts in their own industries and their own businesses who might have been far older than me, and yet I was the person that they poured out their personal and financial information to.
There were times early on where I was petrified of making mistakes. You have to expect that you are going to make mistakes, because no one is perfect, and the best thing you can do is learn from them. It sounds so cliché, but it is one of the biggest realisations and lessons that I had to learn. When I made a mistake, I had to sit down and problem-solve my way through it.
Once I had an appropriate solution, I could then be quite assertive and say to the client that I had a solution and knew exactly what I could do to fix it. That definitely grew my confidence further.
What do you think could be done to encourage more women into the broking industry?
I always felt very supported and never felt like I had any massive roadblocks being a woman in this industry, but I know from a larger perspective there is a much smaller proportion of women [in finance]. I think the proportion will increase over time, and I think it already is.
So, I think surrounding yourself with other powerful, sought-after women in the field is definitely a part of that process, and providing the environment for that.
What are your goals for the near future?
My business is definitely at the point now where it is really consistent and continually growing, and growing at quite a rapid pace. It's extremely exciting.
But it means I do need to be quite strategic in the way that I go forward. I'm always on a continual journey to look for better ways to serve my clients and really create that experience for them that is as seamless as possible whilst getting as much value from me, as possible. So I will definitely be looking at putting people on and refining my process and mapping that out, to the best of my ability.
Outside of the day-to-day runnings and operations, networking has always been really big for me… I've always done a lot of networking in business and making sure that I'm staying in contact with my referral partners and networking organisations, groups and friends. I will continue to do that ongoing.
I think this digital wave through COVID-19 has really allowed us to connect with more people on a regular basis, if we want to, so that is something that I will continue going forward, as well.
You can find out more about Evelyn Clark in this week’s episode of the Elite Broker podcast, below:
The month of November marks The Adviser’s Women in Finance month, as we profile some of the leading women in this industry.
[Related: How this broker ascended to the top]
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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