Regional finance leader
Kim Wilcke, Regional Manager at Australian Catholic Super and Retirement Fund in Canberra, ACT talks about her role in the finance sector.
This role is about connecting people with their superannuation and empowering them to make informed decisions about their future.
I am responsible for servicing Members and Employers in the Canberra-Goulburn, Wilcannia-Forbes and Bathurst Diocese.
This takes the form of visiting schools and Catholic Education Offices to deliver presentations and also to consult with people one on one about their superannuation under a General Advice offering. I also work with a wonderful Financial Planner, Oya Guney who can provide Personal Advice to both Members and Non-Members.
I am the eldest of four girls, growing up in Orange NSW, coming from a Catholic family I was acquainted with the Church primarily during my primary school years. As I attended public schools throughout my education my involvement with the Church was like that of many other women, it tapered off, however I believe that my core values were, in part, formed by the Church and remain at the heart of how I conduct myself today.
My family life also shaped my life’s journey in that my father was a drover who was often away for long periods of time, although we spent most school holidays working on the stock routes running from Northern Western NSW down through to Victoria. While we were at home there was also an expectation that we would help with many of the household chores and so there was never a gender differentiation in terms of roles whether we were at home or out droving and we were never told that we couldn’t do or be anything.
After completing an Art Certificate, a Bachelor of Visual Arts and some Teaching Studies, I decided not to pursue teaching. This led to a return to Orange in 1994 with my (now) husband where we started with a cleaning contract at a pre-School and found other jobs through the day. I secured a role as a teller on a temporary, part-time basis and went on to work for a General Insurance Organisation.
The striking thing at the time was that it was always women working at the counter while men generally held the roles that occupied the offices around the perimeter of the Branch, particularly in the Insurance Office. I remember thinking when I worked for the Insurer that I could probably manage the Branch one day and I did achieve this after have two babies and the support of my husband in taking up various part-time roles in order to look after our young sons at the time.
Between 1995 and 2004 the Insurance Company had changed, with women occupying many of the Management roles, Regional Manager roles and Financial Planner roles. We also had an inspiring Executive Manager in Karen Baylis, who changed the culture of the organisation as we moved from a Mutual to a Listed Company. On reflection, this was an amazing feat and one that I have never experienced since. Not that I haven’t witnessed other people and organisations try. They just haven’t succeeded in the same way that Karen did and primarily because they did not spend time on understanding the business and engaging the right people externally to assist in shifting things in a manner that challenged our existing beliefs and enabled us to reassess our thoughts on the level of service that we were providing our customers. This was during a time of tightening regulations in the Finance Sector with the introduction of the Financial Services Reform Act.
The calculated risks that Karen took at the time particularly in terms of the cost of training are still evident in the organisation today. I can hear it when I call this organisation or walk in to one of their branches even though this happened well over a decade ago. I truly admire the fact that this serves as testament to Karen’s leadership skills and foresight in terms of cultural change.
I went on to work for a short time in Real Estate and Radio, selling air time with this providing me with yet a different perspective on organisational culture which led me to make the move to back Canberra, where I’d previously studied at the Canberra School of Art. This time I was a Bank Branch Manager amongst a number of predominantly female managers, with a female Financial Planner and a female Regional Manager and unfortunately around about a 58% turnover of Staff in the Institution across the ACT. Under these circumstances the Branch Manager role became untenable and I had an opportunity to move into Financial Planning.
I was placed with a Senior Planner, Lynette, as an Associate while I studied to get my Financial Planning qualifications and along the way learnt a lot from Lynette in that she often asked for more than her fair share of things such as the marketing budget. Lynette also had vision and drive that made things happen, particularly creating networking opportunities for a number of women as well as Professional Groups. Lynette also differentiated herself within the Financial Planning sphere in terms of her service offering and moving to a fee for service arrangement with her clients well before FoFA (Future of Financial Advice) Reforms and the payment of commissions to Financial Planners became the topic of the day.
Since my time with Lynette, I specialised in Business Succession Planning for commercial clients at two other banks and eventually moved over to the Industry Super Environment, first working for a fund that covered the Health and Community Services Sector and whose Members were predominantly women with low account balances. From there I moved into my current role as I truly enjoy helping people and using my knowledge of the Banking, Insurance, Financial Planning and my ability to communicate complex strategies in diagrams.
I feel as though I’ve come home in a way in my current role in that I’m now reconnected with the Church in a small way and I’ve reconnected with my past in that I get to spend time in the Diocese that I grew up in. In fact as I drove in to Forbes, NSW a few weeks ago, I felt that my approach was all wrong as on most occasions I approached this town on horseback behind a mob of sheep or cattle.
My dreams for the future are for women to feel more empowered about what they can achieve and also to recognise themselves for the difference that they make to the lives of others but to take stock along the way and demand a bit more for themselves. We are the social fabric of the Church as well as the broader community and we have far more influence than we may otherwise be led to believe. The fact that we have a National Office for the Participation in the Church is a sign of hope in itself and we shouldn’t be afraid to speak up.
To find out more about Australian Catholic Superannuation Retirement Fund please visit their web-site .