Helping small businesses and farmers

Australia has over two million small businesses. Together, they employ over 40% of our workforce. Banks recognise the importance of providing small businesses with access to finance to help them grow. Over 2016, banks provided around $90 billion in new loans to small businesses, which is near a record high level.

While banks’ lending to the small businesses sector is strong, we know that for some small businesses, being able to access finance is a concern.

In 2016, the Australian Banking Association developed the Small Business Finance website.

Designed to support small businesses, it includes a step-by-step guide to completing a loan application, including the do’s and don’ts, with particular emphasis on preparing a business plan.

Developed in conjunction with CPA Australia, and with the support of the Council of Small Business Australia (COSBOA) and NSW Business Chamber, the website provides guidance on how to present information in a loan application that goes beyond just providing the company accounts. It explains what banks look for in loan applications, so business owners can take steps to increase the chances of getting a loan approved.

Better supporting small businesses and farmers

The banking industry is looking at ways to improve its commitment to small businesses and farmers by being more transparent and flexible with loan arrangements. Changes to the Code of Banking Practice will be considered to better protect small businesses in financial difficulty, and improve how banks explain the terms and conditions of a loan.

As part of our continued commitment to support the agriculture industry, the Australian Banking Association is exploring ways to partner with small business and farming organisations on initiatives aimed at helping farmers build financial literacy and maintain a viable business.

This year we’re also developing new industry guidelines on the use of valuations, and the appointment of receivers, to promote best practice across banks. We’ll keep this page of our site updated as this initiative progresses.

Farm debt mediation

Farm debt mediation is designed to help farmers and lenders discuss workable solutions to financial difficulties, with the help of an independent mediator.

The industry supports a nationally consistent and mandatory approach to farm debt mediation, modelled on the existing NSW and Victorian schemes. A national approach is the most effective way to address inconsistencies between states for farm businesses that operate in multiple states, and make sure farmers are treated fairly across Australia.