Seeing small businesses thrive and being part of an industry that helps people realise their dreams of property ownership are the things that Emma Dupont-Brown, General Manager Product & Corporate Communications at Mortgage Choice, loves the most about working in the mortgage and finance industry.

With 16 years in the industry in roles that have spanned across product, communications, and aggregation, Emma has witnessed much evolution in broking which has translated into increased trust and market share.

And, in the spirit of wanting to contribute to the industry’s future, in 2020, Emma led the establishment of Mortgage Choice’s Aspire program for female brokers, which was recently recognised as a finalist in the Diversity & Inclusion Program category at the MFAA’s National Excellence Awards.

The Aspire program was established to leverage the strength of the Mortgage Choice franchisee platform to encourage more females into franchise ownership.  Currently, only 26% of Mortgage Choice franchise owner managers are women, yet women represent 80% of administration assistants and 64% of support staff across the Mortgage Choice group.

“At the time of launching Aspire, which has been rolled out across Australia, women were significantly under-represented as business owners across our Mortgage Choice franchisee network,” Emma said.

“But we’d seen a strong history of female loan writers progressing into the business ownership role, and although there weren’t too many of them, those who had done it had done it well.

“So we saw there was a real opportunity of using the proof points of those that had taken that leap to help inspire and empower more female loan writers in our network to do the same.”

Emma says feedback to the Aspire program has been overwhelmingly positive and has helped build a strong sense of community for women across Mortgage Choice by breaking down barriers that may have previously prevented women from approaching others in their network to share insights and experience.

The benefits of hearing different experiences and perspectives is what Emma believes greater diversity brings to the mortgage and finance industry, particularly given the diversity of the customer base brokers already serve.

“For me it is just intuitive. We have this cross section of society we are trying to meet the needs of, and therefore, our industry should reflect that,” she said.

“In addition to that, there is just something to be said for having a range of voices and experiences at a table so that you get a broader set of outcomes and views that generates better outcomes for our business.”

And while the Aspire program is helping pave the way for more women to become franchise owners, Emma says it has demonstrated that achieving greater gender diversity in the industry requires a sustained amount of effort and focus.

“It’s such a tough nut to crack,” she said.

“How do we get at the grass roots level by educating more women around mortgage broking being a career for them, how do we create a pathway and bring more women into the industry much earlier on in their career?

So as a female who has worked in this industry for 16 years - what is her secret to success?

“Being able to understand your audience and really being able to engage with them in a meaningful way and in a way that works for them,” she said.

“In this industry there are so many different stakeholders and people to talk to on different levels so being able to communicate effectively whether it’s a customer, a broker  or a lender - that is just a critical factor to success.”

And finally, what is her advice to her younger self?

“Don’t sweat the small stuff,” she concluded.