ASBFEO Newsletter – Issue No. 32

Message from the Ombudsman

It was a pleasure to launch the Business Funding Guide with Scottish Pacific Business Finance on Monday 29 July. The biggest barrier to small business growth is access to finance. Small businesses have been feeling the brunt of the credit crunch as lenders tighten their requirements in the wake of the Banking Royal Commission. That’s why it’s so important for small businesses to understand the range of finance providers in the market and to take the steps necessary to become ‘finance fit’ so they can prove their credit worthiness to the lender of their choice. The Business Funding Guide is an industry-first publication that aims to support small businesses in their pursuit of growth and success, through their trusted advisers.

In July, the government introduced draft legislation that extends the unfair contract term regime to insurance contracts, however, much more should be done to improve protections for small businesses. While we are able to resolve many contract disputes by using the unfair contract term provisions, on occasions when these negotiations fail, an SME is forced to seek a ruling through the courts. This is far too costly for many small businesses to do and it’s for this reason regulators should be given greater powers to both determine and deal with unfair contracts relating to insurance and other contracts SMEs enter into more broadly.

We have issued a ‘more information’ notice to Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA), regarding our ongoing concerns over the lack of transparency with regards to APRA’s current reporting obligations. These and a number of other issues are critical to the future of Australian small businesses, including artists and venues, and need to be addressed before the APRA licence is re-issued.

We are also monitoring the enforcement of the new banking code very closely to ensure the imbalance of power held by the major banks is addressed effectively. While the new banking code is an improvement on previous versions, we are asking small businesses to help us gain an understanding of whether the Banking Code Compliance Committee (BCCC) is doing the job it is supposed to. We encourage small businesses who have had dealings with the BCCC to tell ASBFEO about their experience.

Finally, it was great to meet some of Australia’s brightest business minds at Kochie’s Business Builders Power List event in Sydney on 18 July. Congratulations to the top 10 finalists and all those involved!  READ MORE: