Opportunities in commercial broking for female residential brokers

How diversifying can build business growth

Opportunities in commercial broking for female residential brokers

Commercial broking offers potentially lucrative and interesting work, and the opportunity to develop deep, valued client relationships. For female residential brokers it represents a strong business opportunity.

Remarkedly, of the 19,456 residential and commercial brokers operating in Australia in the six months to March 2023, only 26.9% were female, according to the latest MFAA Industry Intelligence Report 16th edition.1

And while there’s been an uplift of 1.5% compared to the previous six-month period, and 1.4% year-on-year, the industry is still below where it was in the six months to September 2019. In 2019, 27.2% of brokers were female.2

Supporting more women to diversify into commercial broking is something that Ivan Mioc, GM Commercial Broker, sees as a real opportunity.

Mioc says, ”When we narrow our focus to commercial broking, female participation is even lower. For example, only 22% of ANZ’s accredited commercial brokers are female.3 This is despite the significant growth opportunities available in the booming and rewarding commercial broker market.” 

“Demand for commercial broking is expanding as more businesses seek the expertise of brokers to help them secure finance from the increasing range of options available,” he says. 

Four in every 10 commercial loans are now written by brokers,(4) representing an eye-watering total book value of $73.11 billion as at March 2023 – a record high. That’s up $3.06 billion, or 4.36% on the previous six months and up $6.41 billion or 9.61% on the previous year.(5)

Given women have been under-represented in this growth story, how can the industry forge smoother pathways for women into commercial broking? 

We talked to three industry leaders about their experiences. 

What’s great about commercial broking

At its heart, commercial broking is about connecting businesses with the right finance solutions to help them grow and thrive. On behalf of their clients, commercial brokers work with lenders to secure and structure finance – drawing on their knowledge of banking products and policies.

For residential brokers who are considering diversifying into commercial broking, commercial broking offers abundant benefits. Here’s what attracted the women we spoke to.

Dynamic and diverse deals

Commercial broking offers fascinating and varied work. As Emily Bacely (pictured above left), ANZ Commercial Broker Manager, explains, “it’s very diverse and requires you to have an imagination when you’re looking at a business plan.” 

“It could be a startup business and you’re thinking, ‘Do I believe in this? Is this business plan telling a story? What do the cash flow projections look like and what can I foresee?’ And then after a year, after believing in that business, you can go back, look at the success and celebrate with the owners.” 

Managing director of Benchmark Finance Group, Rebecca Justice (pictured above right), sees similar attractions, saying “there isn't a one size fits all for a commercial transaction. They’re each completely different.”

Working with businesses rather than consumers is one reason why commercial broking is less regulated than mortgage broking. This allows the broker a broader scope to apply their financial acumen. 

“A more subjective assessment of risk is needed. My understanding of how banks view certain industries and assess credit means that I’m not just punching in numbers,” Justice says.

“If you’re interested in global and local markets and supply and demand economics, it can be a really interesting place to be.”

Repeat business from fewer, deeper client relationships 

In contrast to the volume game of mortgage broking, commercial broking is about repeat business from fewer clients. Justice describes her role as a consultant to her clients. 

“I’m able to understand a client’s business – their requirements and forecasting – and go on that journey with them. I’m a true partner in someone's business, I speak to all my clients each week,” Justice says.

Similarly, Alana Davies, founder of Farm Finance Co, also enjoys deeper client relationships. 

“Basically this is my dream job,” Davies says. “I love dealing with clients, being on farms with them or around their kitchen tables, helping them fulfil their business goals and dreams.” 


Commercial broking also offers a lot of flexibility, according to Davies. 

“Your commercial broking business can be whatever you want it to be. You can work as much as you like and reap the rewards of the work you do,” she says. 

Bacely agrees. “Commercial broking offers the flexibility to work and think outside the box,” she says. 

Capacity for more commercial brokers in the market   

As business owners increasingly seek a more personalised service experience, the commercial broking opportunity will continue to grow – although the nature of the opportunity will depend on your location. 

“I really don't think there are a lot of commercial brokers in South Australia, particularly not regionally,” Davies says. 

“Look at the opportunities that are around you. For us in regional Australia, people want customer service and that's an opportunity for you.”

“People want to deal with people who actually understand them.” 

Yet it’s also important to note that the commercial finance market changes quickly, so brokers need to stay top of their game. 

“It's a high-pressure environment, fast moving and always changing. You're dealing with eight different banks and trying to understand all their intricate details,” Davies says.

Could confidence be the biggest barrier?

Given how attractive commercial broking can be, why aren’t there more female commercial brokers? 

Bacely speaks from her experience as a commercial broker manager. 

“Of the 440 brokers I support, 50 of them are female,” says Bacely. “That's just 11%. There’s movement in the right direction, but there are gaps, sometimes due to lack of confidence. We can talk ourselves out of opportunities. We’re certainly capable, however there are still elements of self-doubt.”

Justice also stresses the importance of confidence in building a successful commercial broking business. 

“To be honest, I don’t think there are any barriers,” Justice says. 

“Most of the time, I'm the only woman – or one of two women – at a commercial broking event, or with my clients or meeting with a bank. It's pretty male-dominated, but I don't see that as a barrier – it’s a really great opportunity to stand out – a free marketing opportunity. 

“You're obviously pretty good at what you do, but taking advantage of opportunities comes with confidence. It’s going to industry events, networking, and being confident to take up speaking opportunities.”

Davies is also positive about her experience in broking. 

“I personally don't believe that I've really encountered any barriers,” Davies says. 

The question of whether female business owners prefer working with female brokers was posed for discussion. Justice was quick to respond.

“What I found with a lot of business owners is that gender becomes such a non-issue. You want the best person for the job,” Justice says. 

On the topic of diversity, Justice adds, “diversity to me is about having different opinions around the table”.

“A woman might give a broking business a different way to look at something. For me, having different voices from my staff, whether male or female, is crucial.” 

Passion and other foundations of success

For residential brokers who are considering a career in commercial broking, you’re likely to already have the most important skills. The foundations of success include passion, relationship skills, being a networker and having a client service ethic. 

Passion: Commercial brokers must have a passion for solving people’s finance needs. Davies sums it up: “you need to love finance and you need to love people.” 

“In agri, most businesses are husband and wife operations, or family-owned. You become a part of the family. Their business doesn't run without you, which is rewarding but can be daunting at times because they're relying on you,” Davies says.

Bacely adds, “you need to have a genuine passion for the industry. Surround yourself with people you can learn from – all of this broadens your horizon and your exposure.” 

Relationship skills: From Bacely’s experience, enjoying working with people and the ability to build strong relationships is also important.

“I'll always ask this question to the brokers I support: ‘What's going to win this deal?’ The answer is always very simple, its relationships,” Bacely says.

You’ll need strong relationship skills to network and draw out opportunities from your circle of influence. 

Client service: A focus on delivering excellent client service is essential if you want to grow your business.

“If you’re doing the right thing and getting things done for people, they then tell their friends who tell their friends. You end up with a snowball effect,” Davies says.

Find a mentor: A mentor with a background in commercial broking can accelerate your understanding and motivation. “Finding a really good mentor is something that I'm a huge advocate for. You can't be what you can't see,” says Justice.

Work with a bank that supports women

Diversifying your business into commercial broking may be more accessible than you think.

The first step is to draw on the resources around you, developing a relationship with your bank’s commercial broking manager and local bankers. There’s a lot of training and support to help you transition into commercial broking. It’s also important to work with a bank that’s committed to inclusivity and diversity. 

“I support brokers in finding solutions for their clients and then facilitate the finance transaction,” says Bacely. 

“If a skill’s needed, then we'll run training sessions. We’re always hosting webinars, networking sessions and coffee clusters to help brokers broaden their knowledge and build relationships.”

Mioc says, “Our team is always here to help brokers who want to diversify into Commercial. We’re always on hand to discuss training options and support their diversification journey.”

[1]MFAA, Industry Intelligence Report (IIS) 16, for the six month period 1 October 2022 – 31 March 2023  

2 Ibid

3ANZ internal data

4MPA Magazine, MFAA, FBAA and CAFBA join forces for National Finance Brokers Day, 13 April 2024, accessed 8 May 2024

5MFAA, Industry Intelligence Report (IIS) 16, for the six month period 1 October 2022 – 31 March 2023

Learn more 

To find out more about the opportunity to become commercially accredited, contact your ANZ business banker or click on this link

This article is brought you by ANZ

This is general information. ANZ is not giving advice or recommendations, and we haven’t taken into account your clients’ needs, financial circumstances or objectives. You and your clients should carefully consider which ANZ products are appropriate for them and should seek appropriate independent advice (which may include property, legal, financial, taxation and accounting advice) before making any decisions, investing, or acting on it. Terms and conditions, fees and charges, and credit approval and eligibility criteria apply to ANZ products.