AdviseHer attended the FAST Women in Broking High Tea in Sydney and discovered that a little planning and self-promotion can go a long way
Ten years ago, when people thought about mortgage brokers, a lot of them probably pictured a man in his late 40s or 50s sitting behind a sturdy, mahogany desk with a financial services diploma hanging in a picture frame on the wall.
“Things have changed a lot,” says FAST partnership manager Michelle Southern.
Ms Southern told women at the FAST Women in Broking High Tea in Sydney recently that women have changed – and are in fact now shaping – the third party distribution channel.
The number of women in the industry is climbing, and she says it’s not hard to understand why.
“According to the MFAA [Mortgage & Finance Association of Australia], women now account for 31 per cent of mortgage brokers, which is up by 10 per cent over the last 10 years,” she says.
“For women, the reasons for being a mortgage broker are clear. Mortgage broking allows women to lead a lifestyle that suits their business and family. In this way, women can be the financial provider and also the primary carer for the family.”
FAST’s chief executive, Brendan Wright, says he has personally and professionally benefited from women’s involvement in the mortgage and finance industry.
“I’ve seen throughout my career the positive impact women can make to businesses and industries,” he says. “Diversity makes a big difference.
“I personally have the view that to be a leader in business, you don’t have to come up with all the answers yourself. The best way you can be successful in any business is to empower your people and have a diverse group of people who will come up with all the answers.
“Women can bring a different view and that can help you come up with more holistic answers.”
Yet, even though things are moving in the right direction, there is still more women can do to promote themselves in the third party channel and ensure their businesses continue to succeed.
Kim Payne, managing director of 9Rok Consulting, says women have unique opportunities in the third party distribution channel, but they don’t always know how to take advantage of them.
Speaking at the FAST High Tea, Ms Payne said women often don’t know how to really capitalise on and promote their value proposition.
“We’re great talkers. We’re great listeners. We see things that the blokes don’t see. We’re quite empathetic. We understand the emotive reasons behind people’s decision making,” she says.
“This is an industry with so much opportunity, if for no other reason than what you are blessed with biologically. What we need to do is make the most of it.”
Ms Payne says many women are too humble to go out and aggressively promote themselves and their value proposition to potential and existing clients – something she believes needs to change.
“You might be really good at what you do. You might be a great mortgage broker. You might be great at talking to people and uncovering their problems and providing a solution,” she says. “But if you’re running a business and you’re not deliberate about going out there and catching and keeping more of the types of clients you want, then you’re going to find it harder to stay afloat.”
Ms Payne says women in broking can begin to overcome this roadblock by simply communicating with their clients more and having more confidence in their own value proposition.
“Most female brokers know they deliver value to their prospects and their clients. But who is really great at explaining what exactly their value is? That is really, really hard. You need to be able to articulate very clearly what the value is,” she advises.
“You need to almost be lying next to your clients at night, getting into their minds and working out what keeps them up at night. What worries them? What are the problems or challenges in their lives that you can actually help them with?
“If you can articulate this to a client, they’re also going to credit you with hopefully solving these issues.”
Ms Payne says women in business are so used to balancing their work and family lives and thinking of others first that they often forget the primary question people are asking themselves: ‘What’s in it for me?’
“People like to talk about themselves,” she says. “It’s important that we recognise people will be thinking ‘What’s in it for me?’ Brokers need to think about that from the very beginning of the process.
“Such few providers of any sort of product focus on the ‘What’s in it for me?’ And if you do this, as a woman in a male-dominated industry, you can really set yourself apart.”
Ms Payne says women, and indeed men, are more likely to find success in business if they have a plan in place.
“Successful business owners are those who do what they do deliberately. It’s not down to chance. They know what they want and they go out there and they get it,” she says.
“And that is something this industry is enabling women to do far more than we were ever able to do in the past.”
Success, however, has to be planned for.
“If there’s something that I’ve learned over the years, it’s that money is made in the planning. You’ve got to have a plan in place,” she urges.
Ms Payne says she often stumbles across business owners who say they don’t have a plan in place because they’ve “tried it before and it didn’t work”.
This, she says, is no excuse. You need to keep trying.
“What happens when you go to the supermarket without a shopping list?” she asks. “What happens? You buy everything.
“So if you really, genuinely want to put your business on the path to success, you’ve got to put a plan in place.
“Research consistently proves that those businesses that not only have a plan but execute it, review it, monitor it and change course when different opportunities pop up, really become successful.”
She says implementing a business plan need not be an onerous and excessive task. Instead, keep it simple.
“Keep it down to a one-page summary with the details housed elsewhere,” she explains. “Have a plan, even a simple plan. It’s one of the key ingredients for success. I know it, you know it, but not many people do it.
“It will set you apart.”
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