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Q&A: Mhairi Macleod, broker and principal, Astute Ability Group

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Annie Kane 7 minute read

WOMEN IN FINANCE MONTHEarlier this year, Astute Ability Group broker and principal Mhairi Macleod was named the Asset Finance Broker of the Year at the Australian Broking Awards, and has taken home several other industry awards this year, too. We find out what she thinks is the mark of a good business leader in finance.

What do you think is the mark of a good business leader? 

There’s so many factors that make a good business leader. I think one particular factor that stands out, in light of 2020, is that good businesses need to move with change rapidly.

As a business leader, I’ve learnt that it’s important to lead with fluidity and a positive mindset for change, just as much as it’s important to help your team work through it.


I’ve found that you’ll need to have a healthy balance of giving your team opportunities for professional development in a changing period and also other ways to grow/innovate for my business.

While I see myself as a business leader, I am also an advocate for positive innovation.

Who inspires you in business, and why? 

From my own experiences, I’ve been humbled to work with industry leaders and role models like:

  • Simone Tilley from ANZ (who I worked with on the Doyenne program the last three years);
  • Renee Blethyn from Suncorp (on the MFAA initiative of diversification and inclusion);
  • Andrea McNaughton from Loan Market (on forums and industry initiatives that drive greater diversity and inclusion); and
  • Anja Pannek from PLAN (on driving industry forums and greater diversity inclusion).

I’ve also been equally inspired by the people who support my business and my peers in the wider industry.


I believe we’re in an impressive industry that embraces all females to be champions of their own business and their own finance subject matter experts.

I believe it’s important to find people (no matter the gender) in your own corner that inspires you, encourages you to learn and helps you to grow to be your own role model one day, too.

What’s the hardest thing you’ve had to do as a business lead/principal – and what did you learn from that experience? 

One of the key lessons I’ve learnt is that you can never be good at everything in your business.

At 24 years old, I just started my business and was managing nine staff. I learnt instantly that the hardest barrier to growth was finding and building the right team for your business. I learnt to wear different hats all the time and enhance my interpersonal people skills – from learning how to manage your business to managing your team and different working styles to bring it all together.

The hardest thing is not generating leads or doing the work, but finding the right team and getting them on the right path to grow your business. 

What advice would you give to other female business leaders looking to succeed in the finance/broking industry?

  1. Stop being too hard on yourself. Your business evolves and innovates when you make mistakes. You’ll always be learning in the industry, but that’s where the biggest opportunities are.  
  2. Be sure to have a plan, and know where you want to go with your career and your business in this industry.
  3. Be open to sharing and voicing your ideas – not exclusively to men and women – but to all your connections (industry association, aggregators, lenders and service providers). Your opinion matters, be open to ideas and connect with people that inspire you. 

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 Women in Finance themed magazine, we’ll also be having female-centric podcasts and running profiles and content in the daily bulletin, too.

Make sure you’re subscribed to The Adviser’s bulletin to ensure you never miss a beat and never miss a podcast episode by subscribing to us now on your preferred podcast provider!

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Q&A: Mhairi Macleod, broker and principal, Astute Ability Group
mhairi macleod close up
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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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