A series of Women’s Commercial Finance Forum events have mobilised people from across the industry to increase the visibility of women and provide support within the growing sector. With a membership of more than 870, the WCFF is a community of finance brokers that connects women and peers from across the commercial finance landscape. WCFF series boosts visibility of women in commercial finance.
Each of the three events included a panel discussion and/or presentations, covering asset finance and business and industry insights.
To better understand the drivers of gender disparity within the finance broking industry, AFG commissioned market research company re:think to survey current and former AFG female brokers and other brokers with its key markets.
Shared at the Melbourne WCFF summit, among the key findings were that only 8% of men in the Australian mortgage broking and asset finance industry believed there was a gender imbalance, compared to 43% of women.
The events were attended and supported by talented, highly experienced commercial brokers, who shared their insights and best practice, she said.
Attendees commended the high level of energy at the events and the high level of participation from both women and men, she said. A show of hands indicated a significant portion of women recognised the support of men in their careers and businesses, and that men were integral to their success.
WCFF community lead for upskill and Pfitz Financial and Business Solutions director Sonja Pfitz (pictured above right) was MC at the Melbourne event (pictured below). Her role at WCFF, Pfitz mentors and coaches the upcoming generation of women, working with lenders and the broking community to draw out relevant practices, skills and techniques and closing perception gaps.
Having worked within the industry for 27 years, Pfitz told MPA that commercial finance can be a tough industry for people, including women, to enter. One of the key takeaways highlighted at the Melbourne summit was the need to “make the invisible more visible,” she said. “Women in finance (e.g. commercial or residential), are not very well publicised, which leads to unclear paths of entry into the industry, perception gaps around salary, and career options,” Pfitz said.
Provision of training programs, scholarships and e-books for women working at various levels, were among the other initiatives discussed.
Networking events, such as the WCFF event in Melbourne help to reidentify some of the key pillars the industry needs – such as connection, education, collaboration and innovation – and make them seen, felt and heard by attendees, Pfitz said.
“The networking events are a safe environment that allow women to be open and honest in the areas where they’d like to have more knowledge and find people who do have that experience,” Pfitz said.
Networking events also help to raise the bar for client experience, enabling the sharing of information around how to approach more complex deals, she said. Bringing the client into network events is a key focus for WCFF, as it helps the industry to deliver the best possible experience, Pfitz said.
Those attending the summits were reminded why they joined the industry, that they weren’t “flying solo” and that they’ve got people there to support, nurture and encourage them, she said.
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