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Feature July 20, 2024

Inaugural Women in Finance Network Lunch


Momentum Media hosted its inaugural Women in Finance Network Lunch, partnered by Mortgage Choice, in March – bringing together nearly 200 women at a harbourside lunch at Pier One, Sydney.

At the event, women from across lending, broking, accounting, financial planning, SMSF advice, and law heard from previous winners of the Women in Finance Awards program to find out more about how they got to where they are now and what we can be doing to support more female leaders in the finance space find their voice – and encourage more women to join the industry.

Annie Kane, Momentum’s managing editor, mortgages and the master of ceremonies (MC) for the lunch, told delegates that the lunch was a result of “people power”, as it was brought to life by Momentum and the event partners following strong demand.

“After we received so much lovely feedback from the Women in Finance Summit and Awards 2023, many of the attendees asked us for more opportunities to network with the like-minded individuals they met that day – and hear more from the winners of the awards, too,” Kane said.

“While we all love a fancy lunch – we wanted this to be productive too – so we were keen to provide some food for thought on how we can forge a better financial services industry into the future.

“Our incredible line-up of speakers outlined how women in financial services can continue to raise their voice, amplify their success and overcome imposter syndrome – which I hope left attendees inspired. I know I was!”

Joanna James – the chief development officer at the Finance Brokers Association of Australasia (and winner of the Principal of the Year at the Women in Finance Awards 2020) – shared how she’s evolved over her career, her top tips for finding and using your voice, and why believing that it’s never too late for a change is crucial.

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Following this, panellists Trenna Probert from Super Fierce (Women in Finance Excellence Award winner 2023 and Thought Leader of the Year 2023) and Pascale Helyar-Moray OAM from Grow My Money (Women in Finance Excellence Award winner 2020 and Entrepreneur of the Year 2020) shared how they’ve built their financial empowerment platforms, why they love this industry, and why women are best placed to help Australians take control of their financial futures.

The Women in Finance Network Lunch 2024 was made possible through the support of our partners:

Our principal partner:

Mortgage Choice

Our event partners:

ANZ
FBAA
Liberty Financial
Loan Options and
NAB

And the amazing events team from Captivate Events & Communications

Key lessons from the Women in Finance Network Lunch 2024

Reflecting on the event, Sally Chadwick, executive manager, corporate communications, events and franchise marketing at Mortgage Choice, said: “My team agreed that the biggest takeaway from Joanna James’ keynote was to not let fear stop you from changing your world.
In sharing how her self-belief propelled her in male-dominated industries, Joanna really highlighted why facing your fear head-on and building the confidence to overcome the fear can pay dividends.

“The sobering facts shared by panellists Trenna Probert and Pascale Helyar-Moray, OAM, about the economic inequality experienced by women was a timely reminder to all attendees that we have a responsibility to support the women around us by continuing to advocate for change and to ensure our workplaces better represent the communities we live and work in.”

James commented: “The Women in Finance Lunch highlighted that networking is wider than any one particular industry and greater than just professional conversations.

“The freedom to talk openly invariably shows that we all share similar challenges as women, regardless of our roles or specific professions. It is an opportunity to put aside the day-to-day and to dream of an even brighter future where we are all the best versions of ourselves, walking our own footprints. So many golden gems to take wisdom from including greeting the unexpected in life with determination and kindness.

“Perhaps the greatest insight is regardless of gender what is possible when we choose to truly support one another.”

Treyena Prasad, strategic partnerships manager at LoanOptions.ai, added: “The power in the room was almost tangible. It was inspiring to hear about many of the incredible women’s journeys into business and finance. Hearing their stories alongside other women in the industry cemented the real sense of community that we – and the women before us – have fostered. One that makes you feel you will be supported and valued by your peers.”

Christine Gough, state sales manager for Victoria/Tasmania at Liberty, said she believed the event was a “reminder that women are in control of their own futures; whether that be our career, finances, family, or health and wellbeing”.

“While there may be biases or subtle daily discriminations, we have the power to drive change and build a brighter future for the women following in our footsteps. Our camaraderie and community are key to lifting us as a cohort,” she said.

Gough added she was particularly impressed by Probert’s discussion on overcoming imposter syndrome and growing a business as an introvert.

“Wearing the most fabulous pink dress and sparkly shoes, Trenna told us how she wears loud clothes which act as a costume to help her be the loudest in the room!” Ms Gough said.

“All women spoke about being strong, using their voice and not being afraid to challenge or be overly concerned about popularity.

“The opportunity to hear from and connect with such strong and intelligent women reminded me that when we have a community around us, our voices can be louder together, and we can help lift each other.”

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Supporting women in finance

The partners of the Women in Finance Network Lunch all actively work to support women in this industry and amplify those leading the way.

Mortgage Choice, for example has its Aspire program, which focuses on developing, inspiring, and supporting the incredible women in our national broker network.

“Aspire is also working to increase women’s representation in the mortgage broking industry, and – it’s great to see this hard work bearing fruit, with the percentage of women brokers in our network exceeding the industry average by 8 per cent,” Chadwick said.

“Our sponsorship of forums like the Women in Finance Network Lunch is another way we work to actively facilitate the important industry-level conversations that can help increase the visibility of women in male-dominated industries like financial services.”

Liberty has a ‘Championing our Women in Sales’ program, which strives to create a pathway for women to feel supported to be their best, authentic selves in a male-dominated industry.

Gough said: “Our program creates a safe space to discuss female-specific challenges and provide mentorship, particularly for those just starting out.

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“Representation of women is key, so I do all I can to be a visible advocate in the industry and in our Liberty community, empowering the women I work alongside ... I particularly look to support our less-tenured BDMs as they navigate their journeys.”

LoanOptions.ai has dedicated ongoing training and development of the women in its business (both professionally and for their wellbeing) and offers ongoing mentorship and leadership roles to people who want them and allows flexible working arrangements.

Prasad said: “We are committed to the growth of women in the industry, while ensuring women in our business are chosen for their unique contribution to the team, not to meet quotas.”

Meanwhile, the FBAA assists finance brokers to become skilled and successful as business professionals, regardless of their gender. To extend support to more women/womxn within the industry, it launched its Artemis Space in 2023, creating a safe and supportive community.

James said: “In line with our three core pillars: Awareness, Education and Advocacy, Artemis provides a variety of digital and in-person events to foster open-minded discussions for practical change and a pathway forward.

“Our long-term goal is a net zero conversation, a world where gender conversations do not need to be raised. The results of this can be seen with the growth of our new-to-industry female members numbers rising to 32 per cent over the past 12 months, a greater percentage than average for women across the industry.”