Industry leaders on how women can find success in mortgages

Executives shared insights at sold-out Women in Mortgage Summit

Industry leaders on how women can find success in mortgages

With seasoned industry stalwarts and newcomers hoping to build a career in mortgages out in full force at last week’s Women in Mortgage event in Toronto, a frequent discussion point was how fresh faces in the sector can learn from the examples of more experienced women to find success.

A few common themes stood out when Canadian Mortgage Professional spoke with participants about their advice for women starting out in the industry – not least, the importance of putting in the hard yards and constant eagerness to seek advice and develop new connections.

For Elena Robinson (pictured, top left), vice president, residential sales at First National Financial, hard work is the first and most important factor behind making forward strides as a woman in the mortgage industry.

“It’s not going to be an easy process but if you work hard and build relationships – and be confident in your self-worth and know your ability – I think you’ll be very successful,” she told CMP.

“Connect with people. My biggest thing is: always ask. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. So if you work hard and you ask for what you want in life, in any area of your life, I think you’ll progress. You’ll be happier.”

Mentorship crucial – as is showing initiative in forging ahead

Sagen’s vice president, business development Kiki Sauriol-Roode (pictured, top centre) emphasized the value of striking a balance between leaning on others and taking initiative to propel your own career forward.

“I think opportunities are boundless for women today,” she said. “What’s really important is just to make yourself available for conversations and talk to other women who have been in the industry. Learn from their journey, but also be open to creating your own journey because that worked for me as I built my career.

“Just keep your mind open to learning from people who have experience – but also [don’t be] afraid to take all of that information, distil it and then make a decision to forge your own path.”

The importance of building a strong support network and a community to elevate and inspire progress was another central component for many experienced members of the industry.

Rejean Roberge (pictured, top right), vice president at CWB Optimum Mortgage, told CMP that identifying that network, and moving on from those who aren’t invested in your success, could provide enormous value for mortgage professionals starting out.

“Surround yourself with people that lift you up. As I’ve seen my career grow in the industry, I learned quickly that there’s going to be people who aren’t there cheering for you on the sides. Just move on,” she said.

“Move on and find people that are going to be your support network, cheering you on and lifting you up. Don’t try to fill shoes that don’t belong to you by trying to placate the haters.”

Fern Glowinsky (pictured below), president and chief executive officer at Haventree Bank, also underlined strong support from other members of the industry as a key factor behind finding success – as well as following your passion and being truly committed to a career in the space.

“If you already found your passion in mortgage and you happen to be a woman coming to events like this, meeting more women and leveraging and growing your network is really material,” she said, “and connecting with clients, understanding their needs.

“Focusing on your mission and continuing to grow your network is really good advice for someone [starting out].”

Networking and industry events significant

For Vivianne Gauci (pictured below), senior vice president at HomeEquity Bank, attending industry events and using those as a way to learn and build new connections are some of the best ways newcomers to the industry can grow their reputation and business.

What’s more, following up with those new connections post-event is critical – first on LinkedIn. “Actually make an effort afterwards… and then try to turn that into an actual face-to-face connection, an ongoing relationship,” Gauci said. “I made so many relationships from this event last year. It’s a great platform to launch a career.

“I think this is a business built on relationships. When people all provide similar products and services, at the end of the day people want to do business with people they know, like, and trust, and being able to build and forge relationships at these types of events and beyond them makes a load of difference.”

Leanne Conroy (pictured below), regional director of sales at MCAN Home, acted as chairperson throughout the day at the Summit. She told CMP that developing and demonstrating confidence and determination should be top priorities for those starting out in the industry.

“Don’t be afraid to put your hand up. People are afraid to ask a question because they’re afraid it’s a stupid question,” she said. “It’s the same with your career: ‘I’m afraid to apply for that job because I don’t think I’m going to get it.’ Who cares? Just do it.”

The value of seeking mentorship – and finding the right person to lean on for advice and guidance – was equally emphasized by Rosanna Stofberg (pictured below), director, total rewards and people orientation at Questrade Financial Group.

“I think one of the things that young people could really do is try to find a mentor that they can work with and looks after you. Someone that operates with integrity,” she said.

“I think it’s easy to go astray and chase something which offers maybe quick money, but not the best practices and not the kind of things that’ll set you up to be a sustainable, successful person in the long run. So I would encourage people to find a mentor that they can look up to.”

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