With a clear passion for supporting the financial and professional success of women, Get Smart Financial founder Rachael Bland was inspired by strong female role models from an early age.
Her company name Get Smart Financial was encouraged by the lead female character Agent 99 from popular spy comedy show Get Smart which she spent a lot of time watching growing up as a child of the Seventies.
Working for the Spy Agency CONTROL in Get Smart, Agent 99 was a mysterious female spy who spoke Chinese, German, French and Spanish, was an accomplished dancer, a violin and harp player and a talented singer.
“Her character was diverse, challenged, smart, quirky and non-conformist and I totally relate,” Rachael said.
While Agent 99 was trying to take control of spy agency KAOS in the fictional world of Get Smart, helping customers take better control of their finances was one of the key motivating factors in the establishment of Rachael’s mortgage broking business nine years ago.
She established her business after spending more than ten years in mainstream lending, and as a single parent of three young children at the time, having the flexibility to run her own business, was also critical to the decision to branch out on her own.
Rachael believes that helping her clients fulfil their financial dreams is an honour and the thing she enjoys most about being a mortgage broker.
“Very often clients are not just wanting a loan or just a service, they are looking for someone to understand their vision, their dreams and their goals,” she said.
“Anything is possible, with commitment, the right team all working together, and great advice, and to be a part of the journey when a client comes to realise this, is just so fulfilling.”
Her passion for encouraging customers to take control of their finances, especially females, has been borne from her own experiences raising three children as a single mother.
“50 per cent of marriages in Australia with children, end in divorce, and when this occurs, 80 per cent of those single parents are women,” she said.
“Of those 80 per cent, around 40 per cent will live at or below the poverty line. That means of every 20 marriages, 10 will end in divorce, 8 women will be the primary or sole caretaker of children, and 3-4 will live below the poverty line.
“Take notice, you need to know, your friends need to know, all young women need to understand this, it is critically important.”
The importance of being financially literate is a message that she constantly impresses on her children, now young adults, and their friends.
“Understanding your superannuation, what compound growth is, what capital growth is and that financial independence is a good thing,” she said.
“It is my and our absolute responsibility to the next generation.”
Translating her passion for supporting women’s success into tangible industry initiatives, Rachael has established a Women in Finance closed Facebook group which she describes as a “place of no judgement” where female brokers can connect, celebrate their successes, and support each other.
She is also the latest appointee to the advisory board of the MFAA’s Opportunities for Women Program and believes that one of the biggest differences to enabling greater diversity and inclusion in the industry is highlighting the path trodden by successful female brokers, the barriers that were overcome along the way and the successes they have achieved.
“We need to tell more of our stories, and to learn from other women. Role modelling, and leading by example is integral,” she said.
“Women can be their own greatest critic, and sometimes the fear of failing, can stop us from getting out of the gates. You don’t need to know it all, you need to be driven, and prepared to grow, learn, and be the best you can be. Sometimes you have to take calculated risks and to back yourself to truly understand what you are capable of.”
Her greatest wish for greater diversity in the mortgage and finance industry is to see more role-models telling their stories and the industry creating more pathways to becoming a broker for diverse individuals.
“If the pathway to becoming a broker is broken down in a step-by-step format, that is easy to follow, it would help new entrants see the path, and understand that the goal is achievable,” she said.
“Sometimes the path is not always clear.”
She believes greater diversity is integral to maintaining the industry’s reputation as a trusted adviser by ensuring that brokers continue to really understand the needs of their diverse customers and always have their best interests at heart.
“At an industry level, I am so proud to see year in year out the growth and development of our professionals, who continue to reach higher ground with our experience, education, diversity, and investment in development and training, which ultimately makes us better business owners, but also better advisors,” she said.
“The combination of better collaboration, processes, experiences and diversity continues to elevate the value of brokers in Australia, and this is absolutely evidenced by the increasing numbers year-on-year of loans in Australia written by mortgage brokers, but we can and must do more. “
Regarding her own secret to success, she says her clients’ success is a testament of her success.
“Our clients are front and centre of everything we do, and achieving the very best results for them, and ensuring they feel valued, informed, and empowered by our knowledge, expertise and experience, is the recipe we follow and pays dividends for all involved,” she said.
“We have all had people tell us that we can only do so much, and I have always used this as motivation to defy what others believe they, or I might be capable of. Anything is possible, all it takes is hard work, and there really is no limit.”
And finally, what is her advice to her younger self?
“Set your goals, and know that two steps forward, and one step back, is still forward progress, and that is still ok,” she said.
“Go early. Set your boundaries, and honour them and get comfortable with saying no if it is not part of your plan, no matter who it is.”
Rachael Bland – Founder & CEO