Women in Broking: Katrina Rowlands, Mortgage Success in New South Wales
What inspired you to pursue a career as a mortgage advisor?
The fact that I could self-manage my time, as a broker, and self-manage my success really appealed to me. I had been told in my previous company role it would be difficult for me to move into senior management because I was pregnant with twins. Someone else decided to limit my abilities due to babies! I also loved that I could really help people personally and enjoyed the challenge of helping all parties win in a transaction.
I loved the challenge of helping all parties win in a transaction, especially difficult matters in which I could dissect and discover issues and solutions. I started with clients who others left behind, which was a fantastic learning curve and so rewarding. To this day, I love helping the client who has good character and strong integrity, but maybe their life has had a hiccup or two.
What challenges did you face when starting out or along the way?
Pretty obviously – managing the birth of twin daughters whilst already having two other children and learning a brand new role. Challenges of meeting all of my life priorities at once is a continued aspect of my life but pretty happy with how things have gone so far. Gaining the confidence of key partners in such a young industry was an initial challenge 20 years ago. All these years later I still have a lot of my original network working with me.
The ongoing challenges have been around multiple changes going on for too long, I really am looking forward to just focussing for a while back on clients rather than the constantly changing paperwork. One of my pet issues now is the total lack of bank service consistency – seriously since starting this business I have gone from 2 day approvals (best I ever had was from submission to unconditional prior to upfront valuations in 4 hours) now we are being told to manage with 10 day approvals and we have done all the work upfront. I am not finished with this issue yet – trust me. It just isn’t good enough and I am really not sure how we have allowed this to happen.
Which aspect of your role do you love the most?
I love making a difference and helping people achieve their dreams and success in such a huge part of their life. I love really talking to people, understanding what they really want and helping them visualise it and then experience it.
I appreciate strong support from my lending partners when I ask for help, and who care as much as I do about an individual client who deserves that extra touch. I love this industry and my friends in it – from business partners to lenders and clients.
Describe your career highlight to date and what it meant to you.
I believe my best is still to come, especially with family coming through our company.
I am incredibly proud of being named AFG’s first Hall of Fame recipient and the first Women in Business award recipient, as well as having the first Scholarship for Women in Mortgage Broking named after me, which has allowed me to work with wonderful new entrants to the industry.
Why should other women consider a career in the mortgage industry?
Being a mortgage broker requires empathy. You have to hear more than words when a client tells you their story. You need to be able to encourage a client to be honest and ask them to trust you to guide them. I really believe that to build and hold a strong book you need to constantly nurture your clients and respond to them according to their changing needs.
Managing someone else’s priorities ahead of your own is a constant reality. Managing compromise and enjoying someone else’s success is all part of the game. Having the respect of the industry, good remuneration and flexible self-managed work hours (in most cases) allows you to be the best you can be.
In your view, why is it important to have a mix of male and female mortgage brokers?
I love working with my peers and hearing their viewpoints. We all think slightly differently and I realise some of that is gender, but also regional versus metro thinking and old versus young thinking, and banking background versus new-to-industry thinking. Having a great mix of males and females is crucial to any industry.