Women in Broking: Michelle Towner, Towner Finance in Western Australia
What inspired you to pursue a career as a mortgage advisor?
There was no one thing that inspired me and to be honest I almost fell into the industry. In 2000 we were buying a property and were referred to a local mortgage broker who came out for a chat. We had never dealt with a mortgage broker before and did not know what to expect but, as is required, we needed to give the broker a lot of supporting documentation and at the end of the meeting she was amazed at just how quickly I was able to produce whatever she needed.
This led to a conversation about organisation and efficiency and whether or not I would be interested in becoming a mortgage broker. Within two months I had joined the industry and quickly realised it was one of the best decisions I had ever made.
What challenges did you face when starting out or along the way?
I don’t remember ever feeling excluded or being treated differently because of my gender but can remember going to industry functions in the early days and being one of the very few females in the room.
I have never considered that being a female is a barrier to entry or impediment to success and have just been myself, which seems to have worked well.
Which aspect of your role do you love the most?
It might sound like a cliché but I can honestly say that there is nothing more rewarding than helping our clients achieve their financial objectives. Making that phone call to let them know their loan is approved, still gives me so much joy. It has never been about the money – in fact, I don’t think about what each lender pays for commission. The only thing that matters is arranging finance for our clients that truly works for them.
If you are doing it for the right reasons the money will come.
Describe your career highlight to date and what it meant to you.
It was a while ago now, being acknowledged by the MFAA as the best broker in Australia under 30 in 2006 was a proud moment for me – that was a tangible validation that the effort I had put in over those early years was worthwhile.
More recently is starting Towner Finance and seeing the amazing success I have received in such a short period of time and the number of referrals that are flowing in from new clients to Towner Finance.
Why should other women consider a career in the mortgage industry?
I don’t think it matters if you are male or female… if you have the right attributes, are organised and have the ability to keep things moving along on multiple fronts at once this is a very rewarding industry on so many levels.
What makes a good mortgage broker?
Organisation, empathy and an ability to multitask definitely helps. It is also important to be a people person because personal relationships matter not only when assisting clients and working to help them achieve their dreams but building and maintaining strong relationships with key people at each of the lenders can free up channels of communication and allow you to get things done quickly.
Keeping abreast of lender policy is also a critical aspect of being a great broker. We hear a lot of stories about brokers who do no more than punch some details into their software and offer the client only the options that are returned. Maintaining a thorough knowledge of lender policies can allow you to get deals, which may appear difficult at first glance, across the line.
In your view, why is it important to have a mix of male and female mortgage brokers?
As in any area of life, I believe it takes men and women working together to make the world go around.