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ABA pushes ahead with SME advocacy campaign

by Malavika Santhebennur6 minute read
Anna Bligh

The banking association has continued its work in promoting finance opportunities for small businesses. 

The Australian Banking Association (ABA) has announced a partnership with the Toowoomba Chamber of Commerce to brief the local business community and stakeholders on the new Banking Code of Practice, as well as the “Financing your small business” website.

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In force since 1 July this year, the new code of practice approved by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission contains new rules and stipulations to which banks must adhere.

Under the new code of practice, banks no longer:

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  • Charge commissions on lenders mortgage insurance
  • Offer unsolicited credit card limit increases
  • Sell insurance with credit cards and personal loans at the point of sale

Under the code, banks must:

  • Provide simpler and fairer loan contracts for small business using plain English that avoids legal jargon
  • Offer low-fee or no-fee accounts to low-income customers
  • Have a three-day grace period on all guarantees to give guarantors enough time to make sure it is the right option for them
  • Actively promote low-fee or no-fee accounts to low-income customers
  • Provide reminds when introductory offers on credit cards end
  • Provide customers a list of direct debits and recurring payments to make it easier to switch banks

ABA CEO Anna Bligh, who is in Toowoomba in southern Queensland to address a business breakfast on the new code and the “Financing your small business” website, said the release of the new rule book for banks came after listening to community concerns, and said the code was “a major step up in protections for customers”.

“Today was also an important opportunity to hear from local businesses directly as there’s no substitute for talking face to face and hearing about issues firsthand,” she said.

Toowoomba Chamber of Commerce president Joy Mingay said the code of practice was particularly important for small businesses who would receive better protections.

“We are excited to see the new code contain a dedicated small-business section, which will see business contracts simplified, loan conditions fairer and small-business customers given a longer notice period should loan conditions change,” he said.

Brokers can learn how to service and lend to small and medium-sized businesses at The Adviser’s fifth annual SME Broker Bootcamp, a free roadshow for brokers looking for opportunities outside of residential lending.

The SME Broker Bootcamp is a full-day interactive workshop and will be visiting five states in November to arm brokers with the tools and knowledge required to venture into lending for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Brokers will hear from SME lenders about the range of funding options available to SMEs, the new funding guides and resources available to brokers and their clients, and hear real-life case studies and scenarios of how SME lenders can help broker clients.

As well as learning the ins and outs of business finance, Ashley Fell, social researcher and team leader of communications at McCrindle Research, will talk about how Millennials approach finance and how brokers can ensure they are their trusted adviser of choice.

Paradise Home Loans founder Carolyn Sutherland, who has attended the bootcamp in the past, said she would urge any residential broker considering diversification into commercial and asset finance to attend the bootcamp.

“I got by far the most ‘takeouts’ of any seminar or conference I have attended in over 10 years of broking,” the attendee said.

“The format and the training provided by the presenters was so relevant and exceeded my expectations. It has given me the tools to go out and seek the SME opportunities that I know are out there and the confidence to do so.”

The free event will visit Melbourne on 13 November, Brisbane on 19 November, Perth on 21 November, and Sydney on 26 November 2019.

Tickets are free, and limited, so make sure you register now to ensure you don’t miss out.

Find out more about SME Broker Bootcamp.

[Related: Banks ‘ready and open’ to lend to SMEs]

ABA pushes ahead with SME advocacy campaign
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Malavika Santhebennur

Malavika Santhebennur

AUTHOR

Malavika Santhebennur is a content specialist at Momentum Media, focusing on mortgages and finance writing.

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