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Proportion of female brokers drops to new low

by Annie Kane12 minute read

The proportion of brokers identifying as female dropped to 25.5 per cent in the six months to March, the lowest figure since records began.

Research published by the Mortgage & Finance Association of Australia (MFAA) has revealed that the number of mortgage and finance brokers identifying as female dropped to 25.5 per cent in the six months to March 2022, the lowest figure since the MFAA commenced its research.

According to statistics from the 14th 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 and breaking the previous record-low set in September 2021 (when 25.6 per cent of brokers were women).

The data continued to show a general trend of decline, with the proportion of female brokers having been at its peak six years ago (September 2016) when 28.3 per cent of brokers were women.


However, the figure has been steadily falling potentially exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the figures for the six months ended March showed female representation had dropped 0.3 percentage points year-on-year.

However, the number of female brokers rose slightly with 3,312 of the broker population being women. Period-on-period, there were 63 more female brokers or 1.94 per cent while the same figure was up 3.21 per cent year-on-year (representing 103 brokers).

Year-on-year, the number of female recruits has reduced by 33 or 7.86 per cent, while male recruits decreased by 134 or 13.77 per cent.

Period-on-period, the number of female recruits fell by 93 or 19.38 per cent while male recruits decreased by 257 (or 23.45 per cent).

The MFAA noted that the data suggests that the retention of existing female brokers is still an issue and continues to be exacerbated by the pandemic.

Speaking of the latest statistics, MFAA chief executive, Anja Pannek, commented: “This is an issue that the industry needs to understand and take action on to remain relevant and continue to grow sustainably.

“Indeed, not only has research shown that diversity is good for business, it is also something consumers are increasingly expecting from the businesses they purchase goods and services from.”

The association has been looking into the reasons why women remain under-represented in the mortgage and finance broking industry, including by working on a range of initiatives flagged in its annual Opportunities for Women report, which aims to generate broader industry discussion focused on the need and the actions required to improve the industry’s acquisition and retention of women and other diverse professionals.

According to the 2022 report, released this week (13 December), the perception gap is narrowing about the differences in the experiences of men and women in the industry.

For example, the top three barriers to women’s participation in the industry as cited by all respondents were:

  • Unconscious beliefs about gender roles in the workplace as the top barrier for women (29.28 per cent)
  • An industry culture that is not inclusive of women (20.58 per cent)
  • Conscious beliefs about gender roles in the workplace (15.36 per cent)

For the first time in recent years, ‘an industry culture that is not inclusive of women’ was cited by both women and men as the second biggest barrier to their participation in the industry after falling out of the top three reasons in 2021.

When broken down by gender, male respondents cited safety concerns (both physical safety and sexual harassment) as the third barrier to women working in the broking industry.

However, the Opportunities for Women 2022 report showed that 65.1 per cent of respondents agreed that businesses that support greater diversity and inclusion will have a business advantage in regard to customers, employee engagements, and referral partners.

The survey also found a greater willingness to promote the mortgage and finance industry to diverse individuals.

Speaking of the findings, Ms Pannek said: “To successfully increase the participation of women, and people from other diverse groups, as mortgage and finance brokers, we need to nurture an environment where they feel valued.

“Our members have told us that to do this, training, education and sharing best practice is critical [with 51 per cent of female brokers stating so].

“The MFAA has been actively providing resources and opportunities for brokers and other industry members to understand and be involved in sparking change.”

These resources include an Inclusive Community Hub on the MFAA website providing diversity, inclusion, mental health, and wellbeing learning resources, research, videos, and presentations.

The association said that a priority for the 2023 Opportunities for Women program will be turning the high engagement of industry leaders, especially male leaders, into “tangible actions”.

You can find out more about some of the leading women in finance in the Dec/Jan edition of The Adviser magazine, out now!

Check out the debriefs with the winner of the Residential Broker of the Year Award, Louisa Sanghera (page 14), advice on what we could be doing to encourage more women into this industry from the Women’s Community Engagement Program winner, F3 (page 12), and general career advice (page 22) to find out more about supporting female leadership.

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[Related: In Focus: Supporting the next generation of women in finance]

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