The major bank has introduced new initiatives to help small businesses access finance, including hiring more dedicated bankers, waiving fees and providing quicker access to funding.
The Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) has said that it will deliver on its commitment to be “better” for small businesses by overhauling its SME lending services.
Among the changes, the bank has committed to hire more than 120 new small-business bankers, who will be placed in phone-based business centres, as well as branches in “key geographic areas” .
CBA also stated that small businesses will have access to dedicated business case managers when they have more complex enquiries, allowing customers to have a single point of contact until their matter is resolved.
Additionally, the bank has rolled out BizExpress, a business lending platform that will reportedly provide same-day lending decisions and quicker access to unsecured loans between $250,000 and $1 million.
CBA also removed certain business banking fees, which were reportedly the number one complaint received on behalf of business customers. In August, the bank removed electronic transaction fees from business accounts and launched a business transaction account option with no monthly account fees for online customers in November.
The bank’s executive general manager of business customer solutions, Clive van Horen, said the new initiatives intend to provide greater support for small business, which are “often the first to feel the pinch” of broader economic conditions.
“We’re delivering on our commitment [to SMEs] with the introduction of more than 120 new small-business banker roles to better support specific customer needs, including more business bankers in our Australian phone-based business centres, and business banking managers in branches in key geographic areas,” Mr van Horen said.
“The nature of small businesses is such that they require quick access to funding, whether it’s to capitalise on opportunities, cover debts or cash flow, or purchase equipment.
“BizExpress can provide our eligible small-business customers with a lending decision in minutes, enabling faster access to the funds they need to keep them growing.
“We fully acknowledge there is concern in the small-business community that it is getting harder to access credit,” Mr van Horen said.
“[The] change to our Business Transaction Account addresses the number one complaint we received from our business customers – the monthly account fee.
“We’ve already seen tens of thousands of customers make the switch, and collectively they will save millions of dollars as a result of the changes,” Mr van Horen concluded.
The bank follows in the footsteps of other major banks, such as NAB, who have also recently been investing heavily into expanding their SME offerings.
CBA also recently announced a range of emergency assistance measures for its customers affected by the Australian bushfire crisis, including loan restructuring, access to emergency grants, and the waiving of certain fees and charges.