International Women’s Day

At AFG, we’re celebrating this year’s International Women’s Day theme of #ChooseToChallenge by highlighting the achievements and challenges overcome by women in finance. 

Get to know some of our industry’s best and brightest and how they started building their careers in finance – their wisdom and advice is sure to inspire you.

IWD 2021

Katrina Rowlands – Owner and Managing Director, Mortgage Success
Shirley Elliot – National Compliance Manager, AFG
Gill McLean – Director, Dream Freedom Financial


Meet Katrina Rowlands – Owner and Managing Director of Mortgage Success.

There is a saying on a magnet I have in my home – “Well behaved women rarely change history”. Do I want to be well behaved, or do I want to change history?

Katrina Rowlands

With 36 years’ experience in finance, Katrina is a leader, mentor, and stalwart to her industry with a generous spirit that gives back at every opportunity.

Here’s how Katrina answered our questions on this year’s theme for International Women’s Day, #ChooseToChallenge.  

What is one challenge you faced early in your career, and how did you overcome it?

At the beginning of my career as a broker, there was a lot of after-hours appointments in homes and this was non-negotiable. I felt guilty at times that I challenged my priorities and didn’t always get it right. I worried that my attention needed to be so focussed on my clients that I was neglecting my family.

I realised that I was so busy thinking of how I felt that I didn’t actually ask my family for their input or understanding of what I did and why.

I took time to explain to the whole family what I did and how they were benefiting from this career and life choice too, and they actually really understood. We decided we should ALL be more involved together with clearer communication – I have to say that my husband has always been my biggest proudest supporter.

What advice do you have for others in the finance industry?

Know you are a professional and act like it – intentionally. This covers a plethora of responsibilities and accountability in your career, as well as to your own education and industry involvement.

Challenge yourself from the front and head on and laugh a lot. Use “why not” instead of “why”. Say ” I don’t know yet, but I would love to learn”.


Shirley Elliot is our National Compliance Manager at AFG.

Compliance in our industry requires innovative thought to ensure that change is handled practically in a way that enables growth without compromising quality. I enjoy the challenge of regulatory change or reform.

Shirley Elliot

With 23 years’ experience in finance, Shirley is the Co-Stream lead for the CIF Mortgage Broking Industry Code and President of the MFAA Compliance and Regulatory Forum.

Her compliance experience has also given her the opportunity to sit on the WA Women’s Football Board for the last 5 years (she loves football and is the mother of an aspiring AFLW star!)

Here’s how Shirley answered our questions on this year’s theme for International Women’s Day, #ChooseToChallenge.

What is one challenge you faced early in your career, and how did you overcome it?

At the time when I was starting a family, I was worried about how I would juggle my career and be a good parent and role model for my daughter.

Since becoming a Mum and returning to work after maternity leave, I have learnt that achieving my career goals is still possible – I just need to find the right balance between my personal and professional commitments, so that I don’t spread myself too thin.

Having a good support network is also important, and I am grateful for the many people that have supported me over the years.

What advice do you have for others in the finance industry?

Pick a company that has leadership and values that resonate with your own – these will both play an important part in your career’s development.


Gill McLean has a passion for building new businesses.

Don’t be afraid to challenge the norm with respect, dignity, and an open mind.

Gill McLean

She was first introduced into the broking world after years of experience working in banking with the teams at Challenge Bank, Bank Of Melbourne, and Macquarie Bank.

Gill went on to lead Moneyquest Australia as Managing Director for 6 years and Capita Finance Solutions as General Manager, growing both of these businesses from the ground up.   Today, she runs her own business and has not looked back since!

Here’s how Gill answered our questions on this year’s theme for International Women’s Day, #ChooseToChallenge.

What is one challenge you faced early in your career, and how did you overcome it?

My biggest challenge in the early stages of my career was being taken seriously as someone who can contribute and make a difference. I realised that I needed a mentor to find the courage to stand up, be bold, and do things differently.

What advice do you have for others in the finance industry?

Believe in yourself, be true to your personal values, and always look for opportunities every day to improve yourself and contribute to other people’s lives.