WHEN Kayleigh Kilgore finished school she had no idea what she wanted to do but was certain of one thing.
"I didn't want to do what my parents were doing," she recalls of her family's Sydney mortgage-broking business. "It just seemed awful, I didn't understand it and I saw stress and long hours. My sister had gone down that path; I wanted to do my own thing."
After obtaining a double advanced diploma in management and marketing, however, she changed tune. Juggling a business administration degree with bar work, she was burnt out and accepted her mother's offer to work flexible admin hours.
"I began to understand what they did and found it really interesting," she says. "I saw the emotion in the business and understood they were helping people with the great Australian dream of buying a house and I thought it was cool ... helping people make that transaction."
By 23, Ms Kilgore was a fully accredited mortgage broker with the family firm when she felt the need to forge her own path. When her family's business bought another broking business in Newcastle - the Good Mortgage Company, now rebranded to Astute Newcastle - she put up her hand to head north to build it in 2013.
In late 2013 her family bought property management firm The Good Property Company, once affiliated with the broking business in Newcastle. With her parents now retired, the 28-year-old is a director of both the Good Property Company and Astute Newcastle, running them with three staff.
"Because there was such a cross over clients of the two companies, it seemed to make sense to take [both] over and it was also a diversification point," she says,
"I was seeing clients who were saying 'my mortgage is fine, but my investment property is struggling."
Ms Kilgour splits her time between her Hunter Street firms. A slower broking period in the wake of the banking royal commission has seen her focus on other services (refinancing, debt consolidation) and her 100-plus property management clients.
"There is a lot of growth I have planned, but because what we do is so personalised it's not sustainable to bring on a lot more properties if we can't sustain our level of service," she says of clients who range from multiple property owners to mum and dad investors.
Citing her father as a key mentor, her drive comes from a desire to help people reach their finance goals. Having achieved a lot at a young age in blokey industries hasn't always been easy, but she's faced the challenge.
"I had one client say once, which I found crazy interesting, 'We were seriously concerned because of your age but by the end we were so impressed,'" she recalls.