Last, but by no means least, in our Women in Broking series, we interview Amber Linzner, Founding Director and Senior Mortgage Advisor of AKL Finance Group, in Melbourne, VIC.
What inspired you to pursue a career as a mortgage advisor?
When I started as a mortgage advisor’s personal assistant 11 years ago my aim was to learn about the industry, gain some experience and then become a business development manager for a major bank. But once I was working in the industry for six or so months, and gained some experience, I decided the mortgage advisor role had so many different aspects that excited me, that I would make this my long-term career.
What challenges did you face when starting out or along the way?
Being a commission-based industry, mortgage broking can be very hard when you first start.
Instead of going straight on to commission only, I spent my first two to three years working as an employee and increasing my knowledge. My then-employer changed the structure from having employee mortgage advisors to contracted mortgage advisors, so I if I wanted to stay I really had to back myself and become a contracted commission-only advisor. It was very scary but worth it.
I was also very young, working in an established area with high-net-worth clients. I found the easiest way to get past this was to upskill myself quickly on reading financials and structuring more complex loans.
I wasn’t deterred if I didn’t know something. I didn’t let it rock my confidence in front of clients. I would tell the client that I would need to clarify this with the lender and come back to them.
Which aspect of your role do you love the most?
I love checking in with my clients a month after settlement, when they are relaxed and enjoying their decision to purchase a home or investment property. I love hearing how happy they are that they made the decision to buy when they did.
I also love revaluing customer’s properties a couple of years later when their properties have increased in value.
Describe your career highlight to date and what it meant to you.
Early in my career, I worked as a mortgage broker with a real-estate-owned mortgage broking business. I was 28 and one of only two women. I approached our founding director and board members to express my desire to take on the general manager role and build the business. To their credit, they gave me a go and I ended up managing the business for two-and-a-half years. It meant a lot to me that the board, which was made up of six men – all established and successful real estate directors – saw something in me and gave me the opportunity. The relationships and opportunities that role provided me still serve me today.
Why should other women consider a career in the mortgage industry?
Being a mortgage broker provides you with so much opportunity. It gives you the knowledge that is invaluable in life and with your own financial situation.
You can choose to work within someone else’s business or be your own boss and create your own business. You also have the opportunity to create passive income by building your own trail book, which in turn can give you flexibility with working hours at different stages of life.
What makes a good mortgage broker?
You need to be able to listen to what your clients need and want, and you must be able to communicate clearly, with no jargon.
If I have learnt anything in 11 years it has been to follow up, follow up and follow up.
You must constantly learn. I have always spent time with other brokers who are more experienced than me and asked questions and asked for help
In your view, why is it important to have a mix of male and female mortgage brokers?
Men and women bring different skills and strengths. Clients have very different needs at different stages of life. For example, a woman going through a divorce probably requires a gentler, softer approach. Having a balance of male and female mortgage advisors helps cater to this, while also ensuring a diverse industry and business.