The Women who ‘Rule the Roost’

3 minutes read
Posted 19 June, 2024
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The Roost team – left to right, Jade Edgar,Natalie Powley, Rachel Dowthwaite, Simone Wiggan, Rebecca Viale, Emma Pullar and Kelly Hopkins

In the traditionally male-dominated mortgage broking industry, Roost Mortgage Brokers in Arrowtown stands out with a talented team of women leading the charge. Co-owner and operations manager Emma Pullar takes pride in the dynamic her female colleagues bring to the business.

Girl power has been producing some amazing results at Roost, where the number of female staff has just kept on growing.

“It’s been lovely to have more females in the business,” she says. “They certainly soften the edges and have enriched our company culture. We’re definitely not a bunch of old men in suits.”

Leading the pack is Rebecca Viale, working alongside Emma’s husband and Roost founder Mark Pullar, Toby Stanley and Thabit Ayoub, as Roost’s ‘newly minted’ mortgage advisor. Rebecca joined the team as a loans manager in 2021 fresh from the Queenstown Chamber of Commerce with no prior industry experience and has recently stepped into her new role as an adviser. She is already earning rave reviews from her clients for her ability to listen, multi-task, and stay organised, particularly from first-home buyers navigating the emotional rollercoaster of the home-buying process.

“My clients enjoy the space to talk,” Rebecca says, highlighting the importance of understanding clients’ perspectives and earning their trust.

Natalie Powley, a former senior banking specialist with SBS who won top lender for the country in 2018, now heads Roost’s loans team (AKA - the brains of the business), working alongside Simone Wiggan, Zsuzsi Toth and sole male in the team, Emma’s brother Nick Lynch. Rachel Dowthwaite leads client support, collaborating with Jade Edgar to take great care of Roost’s clients and keep all the wheels turning, while Kelly Hopkins works alongside the directors and serves as the compliance officer and projects manager.

“We’ve invested heavily in skilled support staff, who are all playing a crucial role in the business,” Emma says.


The Journey to Success

Roost Mortgage Brokers was founded in 2007 by Mark, who left his physiotherapy career to launch the business from their family garage at Gibbston Valley. It was a bold move, with no prior experience in mortgage broking, a toddler, and Emma pregnant with their second child. However, he was encouraged by Emma who had great faith in his negotiating skills.

The timing was challenging, as the Global Financial Crisis hit the following year, but Mark’s passion, reputation, and word-of-mouth referrals quickly fueled business growth. Nick was the first, now the longest-serving, employee, and in 2015, Mark convinced Toby Stanley, a local Westpac private banker, to join him as a business partner, propelling the company’s expansion.

Since then, Roost has won numerous accolades, including NZ Adviser’s Best Brokerage and Best Broker awards for Mark in 2021, and the Queenstown Chamber of Commerce Small to Medium Business of the Year Award in 2016. Last month, the firm was named one of the top 25 mortgage brokerages in New Zealand.

It’s not only the staff who have turned heads on the awards podium, but also the company’s new purpose-built stone building in Arrowtown which recently won the local architect a national architecture award.

Navigating Challenges and Looking Ahead

Despite recent regulatory changes, rising interest rates, and inflationary pressures, Mark remains optimistic about helping clients achieve their homeownership dreams. “There absolutely is hope and there are options that the banks will consider to help get people through,” he assures. “Many homeowners have gained a lot of equity in their homes here in recent years so they may even want to opt to pay interest only for a while and look after the kids.”

Hopefully there will be ‘green shoots’ appearing if inflation keeps coming down and policy changes are planned by the government that will make it less onerous to achieve a home loan approval, he says.

Whatever fit is best for individual Roost clients, he assures they have an amazing team at the ready to help navigate clients through that process.

As the mortgage broking landscape continues to evolve, Mark says Roost Mortgage Brokers stands as “a shining example of the invaluable contributions women make in the industry”. Their contribution is hugely important to the success of the business, he says. With a team of capable and compassionate professionals at the helm, he reckons the company is well-positioned to provide exceptional service and guidance to clients, inspiring and empowering more women to pursue successful careers in mortgage broking and shape the future of the industry.

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Mark and Emma outside Roost

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