Maria Papa is a Filipino mortgage broker and entrepreneur based in Australia. She is the CEO and founder of Maverick Finance, a finance broking company which she built from the ground up when she started the business at the age of 51.
She spent most of her life in the Philippines where she was born and raised, until she realised that she had not fulfilled her goal of living and working overseas. At the age of 46, she and her family moved to Sydney not only to achieve her dreams, but also to provide her children with more opportunities and to study abroad.
Starting a new life in another country did not come without its challenges. In her first two years in Australia, Maria took care of the family’s needs as everyone was adjusting to a new way of life. She remembers her biggest struggle was talking to Australians because they tend to speak English differently. “Each time I speak to an Aussie, I have to ask them to repeat what they say. My response is always peppered with ‘Sorry, can you please say that again?’.” But not long after, she was able to adapt to her new environment, which proved to be very welcoming to all people regardless of ethnicity.
Maria started her career as a mortgage broker following advice from her husband. A year after moving to Australia, she decided to buy her first home. The process was intimidating and scary that she had to read so many finance books to prepare. By the time she and her husband spoke to a broker to get their first home loan, her husband was surprised that she knew more about it than the broker they spoke to. Her husband suggested for her to try mortgage broking as a possible career. At that time, Maria was working for a local company, but she wanted to start a business of her own. So she took the Certificate IV in Mortgage Broking online while working.
Maria left her job in 2010 to finally launch a career in finance despite having no prior finance experience. The following year, she joined Aussie Home Loans as a loan writer where she honed her credit skills. She eventually moved to Loanmarket in 2013 and expanded her client base, composed mostly of first time home buyers. Living in a multicultural society, she encountered all sorts of Australians from different ethnic backgrounds, which proved her knack for the job as she handled every client well. By this time, her ears had gotten used to the Aussie accent.
In March 2018, she founded Maverick Finance, grew her team of brokers, and set up offices in Sydney and Melbourne to serve her continuously growing number of clients. In an industry in which 80% are men, she found it advantageous to be one of the very few Asian women. She enjoys working with her clients, passionately educating them about finance and debts. She makes sure to hand-hold property buyers throughout their home loan journeys to ensure they do not make financial mistakes or fall into debt traps.
Since 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic struck the world, much of Maverick Finance’s operations were forced to turn digital. While the real estate industry used to rely on meeting face-to-face before COVID, Maria and her team were quickly able to adapt to the changing needs of the times. The company now conducts all meetings online and offers home loan journeys on digital platforms.
As she enters a new decade in her career as a mortgage broker, Maria is determined to bring her expertise to people close to her heart — her fellow Filipinos. She aims to help OFWs and Filipinos living abroad in buying property in the Philippines and developing their property portfolios. “It’s time to give back. I’ve learned so much in Australia about finance and investing that I want to share what I’ve learned with more Filipinos.”
Maria is a member of the Mortgage & Finance Association of Australia. She has a diploma and a certificate IV in Mortgage Broking and an advanced diploma in Financial Planning. She keeps up to date with the latest news and trends in finance to continuously upskill herself.
Today, she is a recognised money and finance expert within the Filipino community in Sydney and Melbourne. She writes about finance for the Philippine Times and is often invited on SBS Filipino as a subject matter expert for topics relating to finance.