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Business training key to empowering women in finance

The FBAA’s chief development officer has revealed the tools female finance entrepreneurs require to thrive as leaders.

Joanna James, the chief development officer (CDO) of the Finance Brokers Association of Australia (FBAA), has said while there is no dearth of professional development programs in financial services that focus on technical skills, programs for business owners are scarce.

Speaking ahead of her appearance at the inaugural Women in Finance Summit 2023, the FBAA CDO and former general manager of non-bank lender Mortgage Ezy told Mortgage Business that she believed there were “wonderful opportunities” for women within the finance industry - highlighting the range of roles available.

She said: “For example, women could explore becoming a mortgage broker in a large brokerage or even a business development manager (BDM) at a lender. This gives them the opportunity to build a business. It also gives them flexibility, especially if they move into motherhood.

“Moreover, running a mortgage broking business can be very cost-effective. There’s absolute equality between men and women because it’s commission-based from lenders,” she said.

“Nobody is going to be getting any special favours. It’s a fabulous business model.”

Business operation a different kettle of fish

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However, Ms James warned that becoming a business owner can be laden with challenges, as it requires a broad skillset separate to technical proficiency.

The FBAA CDO suggested that there is a gap in education and training for entrepreneurs.

“I noticed that while there is a lot of technical education, mentoring programs for new brokers, and ongoing professional development days and conferences, there’s still a practical gap around being a hands-on business owner and making decisions on a daily basis,” Ms James said.

“How do you read your financials? How do you forecast cash flow? What employment legislation changes do you need to know? If you’re not outsourcing your compliance, how do you do that? How do you bolster your data and cybersecurity?

“How do you transition from being a sole operator to recruiting and managing a team? There’s a big difference between outsourcing your bookkeeping to employing staff in-house and paying their wages.”

She continued: “There’s a gap between how people are being introduced into the world of business and the reality of what they’re experiencing when they start operations.”

Ms James and a panel of speakers will unpack these issues at the Women in Finance Summit, and point to support systems women can utilise to thrive in financial services.

The Artemis Space

To further support female business leaders in the finance space, Ms James has been leading the FBAA’s Artemis Space, which aims to facilitate honest discussions about the challenges professional women in the broking industry face - and find solutions through forums on specific areas of upskilling.

These include topics such as: what business owners should consider at the end of each financial year (and what they need to be aware of for the following year); mastering communication; and building strong networks.

The group also focuses on improving soft skills, such as managing time and stress, the art of negotiation, and the ability to identify social cues and read clients.

“The Artemis Space offers a monthly session on a new topic,” Ms James said.

“We want women to have self-awareness around who they are as business leaders so that they can be better professionals.”

Ms James continued: “We decided that we wanted to support women by teaching them how to advocate for themselves by getting that direct and tailored one-on-one support.”

As such, the Artemis Space partnered with mentoring program provider Rare Birds and now provides a subsidised program for members to participate in it. The professionals are matched with mentors who are business leaders outside their industry to provide them with a fresh perspective on how to navigate the challenges of being a business owner.

“Women wanted to learn to advocate for themselves. The best way to advocate for yourself is to have someone guide and teach you,” Ms James concluded.

To hear more from Joanna James on how the financial services industry could create an inclusive workplace that empowers women, come along to the Women in Finance Summit 2023.

It will be held on Friday, 10 November 2023 at The Star, Sydney.

Click here to book tickets and don’t miss out!

For more information, including agenda and speakers, click here.

You can listen to the latest Women in Finance podcast with Joanna James to find out why she believes the finance industry provides strong career opportunities for women, here:

[Related: Outdated views of finance deterring women: WGEA]

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