New research shows that more than half of all small businesses have seen revenue decrease during the pandemic, with 51 per cent of brokers saying so, but mental health is improving.
The findings come in the COVID-19 Business Confidence survey, conducted by Momentum Intelligence on behalf of our sister title My Business.
Following on from the initial cross-industry COVID-19 Business Confidence survey conducted by Momentum Intelligence earlier this year, a second survey of 2,807 business leaders (owners, directors, C-suite executives) and employees was conducted over a two-week period in June 2020.
The dynamic report aims to serve as a barometer of how businesses and working Australians are adapting to the changed working and social environment throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the second survey, 56 per cent of all businesses said the virus and its associated impacts had negatively impacted their revenue.
This was marginally up from the previous survey (conducted in April), when 52 per cent of businesses reported decreased revenue.
More brokers think revenue has dropped – but more seeing increasing revenue, too
This trend was stronger in the mortgage and finance sector, which had seen a 19 per cent rise in the proportion of businesses that had seen revenue drop (increasing from 43 per cent in the first survey to 51 per cent in this one).
A fifth of broker respondents said revenue had decreased by between 11-30 per cent, while 16 per cent of those in the mortgage and finance broking industry had seen revenue decrease by more than 30 per cent.
The most negatively impacted industries were found to once again be aviation, real estate and law.
However, while more than half of the 304 respondents from the mortgage and finance broking industry said they thought revenue had dropped because of COVID-19, a growing number of businesses also believed that revenue had actually increased.
In the April survey, 7 per cent of brokers said that revenue had increased due to COVID-19, whereas this had grown to more than a quarter in June.
Indeed, the most recent survey showed that 29 per cent of broking industry respondents had seen increased revenue – the highest of any business sector surveyed (accounting, aviation, defence, financial services, law and real estate).
Of those that had seen more revenue generated because of COVID-19, 7 per cent said that revenue had increased by more than 30 per cent, 13 per cent said it had risen by between 11 and 30 per cent, and 9 per cent reported increases of up to 10 per cent.
While a growing number of businesses believed that COVID-19 had impacted their revenue, 67 per cent of those in the broking profession had not made any changes to labour costs to accommodate (i.e. hiring or stepping down staff), the second highest proportion than any other industry (behind accounting).
Overall, more than a quarter of businesses surveyed said they had decreased their labour costs (with many of the business owners seeing JobKeeper as a useful tool in this light).
Speaking of the findings, the head of research at Momentum Intelligence, Michael Johnson, commented: “Clearly, many businesses have been impacted severely by COVID-19, and many business owners have had to make difficult decisions to ensure the survival of their business.
“These results show that business owners are doing their best to retain their staff in light of difficult economic conditions, which is undoubtedly being assisted by the JobKeeper program.”
Brokers’ mental health improving
As was the case in the first survey, despite the stresses of the pandemic on business, the vast majority of respondents (approximately 70 per cent) said they were in a positive mental health state.
This was a similar proportion to that in the April 2020 survey.
Pleasingly, a smaller proportion of respondents said they were in a negative state of mental health at this current time.
While around a fifth of respondents cited negative mental health in April, this had dropped to just 7 per cent in June.
A growing number said they were in a neutral state.
When looking at the mortgage and finance broking industry, there was an increase in the proportion of respondents feeling positive – growing from 73 per cent to 77 per cent) and fewer in a negative state of mind (6 per cent, compared with 18 per cent in April).
Once again, the broking industry was among the sectors with the best mental health (second only to those in the defence industry, once again).
For those reporting negative mental health, respondents largely attributed this to anxiety about the future and increasing workloads.
Interestingly, the majority of comments from those reporting positive mental health commented that they had made a concerted effort to ascertain this frame of mind, either through exercise or mindfulness/meditation.
One broker said: “Began daily meditation, regular and daily exercise,” with another stating that they are “conscious of mental health issues, so look for activities to keep me active and engaged”.
Another said: “I am the happiest and most well balanced I have been in a long time. Job satisfaction has improved despite my role becoming more demanding.”
Several respondents also told Momentum Intelligence that they had enjoyed spending more time with family, which was particularly the case for those with young children.
Mr Johnson commented: “In the last survey, taken at the height of COVID-19 in Australia, we had about one in five respondents indicating that they were in a negative mental health state. We’re extremely pleased to report that this has improved to now only 7 per cent feeling this way.
“We encourage everyone to check in on their friends, family and colleagues during this time to help them get through this challenging period,” he added.
Who do you aggregate through?
Thank you for your vote, you can see the results here.
Annie Kane is the editor of The Adviser and Mortgage Business.
As well as writing about the Australian broking industry, the mortgage market, financial regulation, fintechs and the wider lending landscape – Annie is also the host of the Elite Broker and In Focus podcasts and The Adviser Live webcasts.
The corporate regulator has outlined its expectations of lenders ...
A non-major bank has announced that it will reduce the maximum de...
The brokerage has grown its team by appointing a national manager...