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Corporate Responsibility July 2010

Corporate Responsibility July 2010

Helping family businesses grow

Helping family businesses grow

Lending to the small business sector remains strong, with conditions for growth improving, as outlined in our recent submission to the Australian Senate Economics Committee’s Inquiry into Access of Small Business to Finance.

The Committee, chaired by Senator Alan Eggleston, investigated issues related to small businesses' access to funding following concerns raised by the sector during the global financial crisis. Its terms of reference included lending policies and practices affecting small businesses, competition in the sector, and its effect on the economy.

Speaking at the Committee hearing, General Manager Small Business Banking, Nick Reade, described our long term commitment to the sector and initiatives in place to support family businesses including:

  • making $8 billion in new lending available to small and medium enterprises, with our lending growing during the downturn;
  • committing to employ at least 130 additional small business specialists in branches and business centres across Australia; over 100 are already in place;
  • extending support to small businesses in difficulty by providing easy access to our dedicated specialists, trained to help small business customers experiencing financial difficulty, and where possible offering repayment deferrals and fee waivers; and
  • providing support and tools to small business customers through our free small business workshop series run Australia-wide, Business Insights - a small business intelligence website based on our merchant data analysis, and our online small business hub.

As conditions improve we are reviewing our small business lending criteria. For example, in March, we introduced a streamlined process for secured lending to enable access to finance with a reduced level of documentation and certification of financials.

The Committee's report, released in late June, made a series of recommendations designed to ensure the market remains competitive. These included removing exit fees on variable rate loans, maintaining the 'four pillars' policy which prevents mergers between the big four banks and a 12-month moratorium on any further consolidation between lenders.

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