We chat with Ebony Maxwell, State Manager (VIC & TAS) at Bluestone Mortgages, about the journey her career has taken her on since she started out in finance after high school. Ebony has faced challenges as a woman in the industry, but has overcome them to set herself up as a successful player in the non-conforming space.
Tell us about the journey you’ve taken in your career.
When I was 18 I started working for Latrobe Financial. I worked there for a little bit and enjoyed what I was doing. My partner at the time was in the defence force and was posted to South Australia, so I had to follow him over. This was in pre-GST times.
I decided to open my own home loan franchise in Gawler (SA) through Wizard Home Loans. I was doing really well and loved it, but when my partner got posted back over to Melbourne, I sold my half of the business (this is before Aussie bought out Wizard). Back in Melbourne I worked for GE Money for a while. I started there on the bottom of rung as a Personal Finance Representative, before being promoted to Branch Manager. We took out Branch of the Year nationally during that time, and eventually I was promoted to Sales Development Manager.
I had several offers to become a BDM at banks, and then the opportunity at Bluestone came through. When I was a broker I liked these kinds of deals – not just your ‘vanilla’ type deal, but something a bit different.
I’ve now been with Bluestone for 3.5 years. I started as BDM, and in July 2016 I was promoted to State Manager of Victoria and Tasmania.
What challenges have you had to overcome in your career, and how did you overcome them?
The biggest challenge for me is definitely being a woman in the industry. I’ve got 2 children, and one is autistic. Trying to have a successful career as well as managing home life with a special needs child has been a huge challenge. I find that even when you’re giving 110%, women in this industry need to give a little more. You need to prove yourself and fight for positions more than you should need to.
I think you need to have a thick skin, and not take things too personally. Be a self-motivator. If you’re not getting where you need to get – or you find yourself going backwards – take it as extra motivation to prove people wrong. I’m never one to back down from a challenge. I always make sure I don’t take things too personally and keep chipping away at it.
What do you love about what you do?
I love the company I work for. Bluestone is wonderful! They look after their employees, and my manager has been a really great supporter. I also love interacting with brokers and do a number of joint visits with my BDMs!
It’s really interesting being in the specialist and near prime space. A lot of banks do “mum and dad” loans and while yes, it’s exciting helping first home owners – at Bluestone we’re helping people get a loan when they wouldn’t usually get a loan. There are so many factors, such as divorce, injury, illness or people being self-employed which can lead to them not being able to get a loan. We’re literally saving people’s houses and giving people loans. We can also pay their ATO debts. I feel very rewarded doing what I do.
I also like the aspect of educating brokers. A lot of new brokers coming into this environment don’t know there are alternative solutions out there. I like educating brokers and helping them find solutions for their customers.
When you were a child what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a singer. But, obviously I can’t sing… so that went out the window quite early on in life. Then I wanted to be in the mounted police as I used to compete on horses, but I found out it’s hard to get into. I sort of fell into finance after I finished high school, and never looked back.What are your top 3 tips for other people wanting to build a successful career in mortgage broking?
What are your top 3 tips for other people wanting to build a successful career in mortgage broking?
- Be self-motivated and organised, and don’t be afraid to promote your achievements (women can be a bit more reluctant to do this).
- Networking is really important for this space – while it’s a huge industry, everyone seems to know everyone. Get out there and make a name for yourself.
- Just be up for the challenge, never take no for an answer.
What is standing out for you in the industry at the moment?
The Royal Commission is creating a lot of hype at the moment. There have been comments about brokers doing bigger deals or trying to get more commission – and understandably brokers aren’t impressed with these comments. It will be interesting to see where that will go.
For me, all this hype and change is exciting news. There have been so many changes to the environment in recent times, and the landscape has changed a lot. It’s a really different situation for Bluestone and businesses in the non-conforming space.
With more restrictions on borrowing capacity, more and more people are coming to us. We’ve had to onboard more BDMs to meet demand – so the future for Bluestone and lenders in the non-conforming space is exciting. With lifestyles and people’s financial situation shifting, a lot of people are self-employed or have gone through a divorce, or stretched themselves too far into debt. This is where companies like Bluestone can help.
Many of us, like Ebony, experience ups and downs and lots of change throughout our careers. If you’d like to find the right fit for you in the finance space, Platinum People Group can help! Reach out to us for a free career consultation or business consultation today.