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Broker

Brokers key to closing the SME funding gap

by 3 minute read
Brendan Wright

Australia’s ‘have a go’ attitude is no more evident than in our flourishing small-business community. With two million small businesses across Australia, an increasing number of us are rolling up our sleeves and getting stuck in. So the real opportunity for brokers rests in viewing their clients not just as home buyers and residential property investors, but also as business owners.

FAST has been focusing on the SME market for some time now, and our number one priority is supporting our brokers to cater to their needs. It’s not just the size of the market that makes SMEs a compelling opportunity (two million SMEs across Australia). They are a largely underserviced market in need of the tailored support and service brokers provide.

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The most recent Scottish Pacific SME Growth Index has highlighted the exact challenges Australian SMEs face in terms of sourcing financing and managing cash flow. According to the twice-yearly series, which surveys a broad range of SMEs with an annual turnover of between $1 million and $20 million, most small businesses (89.4 per cent) say they are reliant on their own capital to fund growth, due to difficulty accessing credit. One in two hadn’t reviewed their primary bank relationship and only one in five said they regularly reviewed their existing lending requirements.

The survey also showed that cash flow is emerging as a significant hurdle, with half of all growth SMEs citing it as a key challenge.

As any broker who writes business loans will know, SMEs certainly don’t need to feel so constrained when it comes to accessing finance, funding growth and managing cash flow. There are many solutions available for them. But what these figures confirm is that SMEs are largely unaware of the financing options available to them, and anyone who can help them navigate these difficulties is going to be exceptionally well received.

The Scottish Pacific research also showed that just over 10 per cent of SMEs surveyed sourced assistance from a broker. More positively however, small businesses are showing a greater willingness to look beyond their main bank to fund growth. The index showed a 35 per cent jump in the number of SMEs planning to use an alternate bank or specialist non-bank provider to fund their business growth. And as SMEs broaden their horizons and realise the wider range of options available to them, they’re also more likely to open up to the opportunity that brokers offer.

Usually accounting for a substantial chunk of a broker’s existing database – anywhere between 10 per cent and 30 per cent – SMEs are an opportunity well within reach. And by building out your business to cater to their needs, you’ll not only be broadening your opportunities to earn revenue, you’ll be helping our small business community – the engine room of our economy – to grow and prosper.

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