Non-bank funding replaces COVID stimulus measures for SMEs
One in five SMEs plan to divest or merge their business.
A quarter of Australian SMEs added non-bank funding facilities in 2022 following the termination of government COVID stimulus and support programs, more than double the figure of 12% a year earlier. A further 20% of SMEs said they intended to divest or merge their operations in 2023.
The findings, contained in the latest round of ScotPac’s bi-annual SME Growth Index report, coincided with the Australian Tax Office (ATO) recommencing standard debt collection activities in mid-2022 following two years of ‘lighter touch compliance.’ According to CreditorWatch, external administrations leapt 26% from October to November 2022, and were up 24% year-on-year.
The most prominent Government stimulus measure during the pandemic was the JobKeeper payment, which was administered by the ATO. Almost 30% of SMEs surveyed by ScotPac said they accessed JobKeeper or some other form of pandemic-related government stimulus.
Since the end of stimulus payments, the top three replacement funding strategies reported by SME recipients were:
- Raising equity (45%)
- Increasing borrowings (39%)
- Reassessing funding methods (33%)
Craig Michie, ScotPac Group Executive, Client Acquisition and Asset Finance, said 2023 was shaping up as a year for SMEs to sit down with their advisors and thoroughly reevaluate their financial positions and options.
“For many SMEs, the support they received from Government during the pandemic period was their first experience of external finance,” Michie said.
It opened the eyes of business owners to the power of working capital, and that has prompted a lot of SME owners and operators to investigate the potential to leverage finance options as part of their strategic planning for 2023.
“We encourage all SMEs to speak with their brokers and other advisors this year about appropriate finance solutions for their situations, whether that is funding an asset or acquisition, taking on new employees, or repaying the tax office,” Michie said.
Scotpac is Australia and New Zealand’s largest non-bank business lender, providing funding to small, medium and large businesses from start-ups to enterprises exceeding $1 billion revenues.
Michie said ScotPac has the breadth of products and experience to help more businesses in more situations than any other non-bank lender.