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First the shock, then the rebound, and now – eighteen months into the pandemic – the sobering reality that SME businesses have had to pick themselves up off the floor once again to navigate the impacts of further lockdowns across much of the nation. But as our research shows, Australian SME businesses are highly resilient and, despite the challenges, are focused on growth and investment.

Given the dynamics of 2021, we felt that it was important to undertake another comprehensive health check of the SME economy six months on from the last report.

This mid-year report reveals that one in two SME businesses (with a turnover of $1 million to $50 million) are in a growth/expansion phase, whilst one in two also attempted to access new funding in the last six months.

Sadly, this report shows that some things never change, particularly when it comes to the major banks. With unmet funding needs and significant delays in accessing funding even when successful, the SME business sector is often slow walked by the major banks. Stifling the full potential of SME businesses and their role in economic recovery.

The findings also show that the fortunes of SMEs are often highly dependent on where they operate – painting a clear picture of a multi‑speed economy. Where the country is split along State and industry sector lines, between the Haves (Queensland and Western Australia) and the Have Nots (Victoria and South Australia).

Despite the vast amount of Government stimulus and support offered to the banks, this report finds that over one in four SMEs are being knocked back from accessing new funding. This has direct implications for business investment and employment, with the report revealing that over one in four of those SMEs refused a loan were in effect, stopped from employing on average three additional staff members.

And adding insult to injury, the report shows that banks are taking on average 42 days to discharge loans when an SME switches lender. These unnecessary loan transfer delays by the banks inhibit fast access to funding at a time when SMEs need it most.

Australian SMEs deserve better – and that’s where Judo Bank comes in.

Built with a purpose to be Australia’s most trusted SME business bank, at Judo we are bringing back the craft of relationship banking. Banking as it used to be, banking as it should be.

Our strong growth since inception, including accelerated growth during the pandemic means we are reaching more and more SMEs nationwide, providing them the funding they need, when they need it most, with the level of service they deserve.

Judo Bank Chief Relationship Officer, Angelo Manos


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