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Opinion by Reporter - March 30, 2022

Women’s Commercial Finance Forum grows to 700 members

The Women’s Commercial Finance Forum is celebrating its second anniversary, revealing it has seen rapid membership growth since it was established at the start of the pandemic.

A network joining together women from across the commercial finance landscape has marked its second anniversary, revealing that it has grown to welcome more than 700 members.

Founded by Yasmine Shah in February 2020, the Women’s Commercial Finance Forum (WCFF) started as a private Facebook group to bring together women in the commercial finance space as a networking and peer-to-peer learning group.

Since then, the group has grown to become a membership organisation for all female finance professionals – including brokers, lenders and business development managers – who want to connect, upskill and discuss commercial finance, and who want to be mentored by those with specialist commercial expertise.

It currently has more than 700 active members supported by a national leadership team of nine state champions covering every state and territory across Australia.

Speaking of the network, Ms Shah said she had first created the group after noticing that there were few women in the commercial finance space and wanting to raise the profile and support for those who were operating in the space.

She said: “While mortgage broking has made great strides in promoting the benefits of diversification and commercial lending, what was missing was an acknowledgement of those who are already thriving in the commercial and business finance space.

“The Women’s Commercial Finance Forum is about is nurturing what already exists, sharing knowledge and empowering a community of female commercial finance professionals.

“We are a community for women in commercial finance and really champion the full extent of what the commercial space can offer, from broking to lending and BDM support.”

The WCFF founder said that the network had been embraced by members as a place to “come together to support each other and share best practice” .

“What we have created is a safe space for women in the commercial sector. Many of our members have been working in commercial for over 20 years and love to share their knowledge and expertise with others,” she said.

“Those who want to learn about commercial now have a pathway where they can be surrounded by like-minded women and experienced operators.”

Given that the group is backed by lenders and fintech providers that power the initiatives of the WCFF community, the membership is free.

Ben James, founder and chief executive of fintech Tradeplus24 – which supports the WCFF – commented: “In a traditional, male-dominated industry that needs change, the WCFF promotes and educates existing talent and new talent in how to navigate, thrive and ultimately drive that change with a more modern balanced approach.”

Tradeplus24 managing director Adam Lane added: “Yasmine and her team at WCFF have placed renewed emphasis on women supporting other women and are providing a space for collaboration and education.

“Great business is created through inclusion, diversity and innovation; it builds greater openness and flexibility in the way we all work with one another. We must adapt, adopt new ways of working and continually lift standards of the entire industry for the good of all.”

This article originally featured in The Adviser