SMEs insist on a "human touch"

Despite recent ramp-up of tech, business borrowers clear they want to deal with a real person in funding process

SMEs insist on a "human touch"


By Madison Utley

While it is uncontested the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the already rapid uptake of technology across Australia’s lending landscape – a trend which has been widely celebrated – a recent survey has revealed the ability to connect with a human being during the commercial finance process remains a high priority for the country’s SMEs.

According to research from small business lender OnDeck, 60% of SMEs indicated the “key driver” of trust in a lender is having real people with whom to speak.

“Our survey clearly highlights that SMEs place significant value on the input of a broker in the commercial finance process,” said Robbie Fidler, OnDeck Australia national broker channel manager.

“Brokers can act as a conduit between lenders and SME owners, providing the person-to-person link that is so valued across the SME community.

“As a fintech lender, OnDeck has always taken a ‘high tech, high touch’ approach to service. We leverage technology to support a fast, efficient loan application process. But we also believe very strongly in the value of a human touch.”

The research also made clear how highly small businesses value being able to clearly understand the costs of commercial finance, with 56% of SME owners indicating that comprehension as a top priority.

“It’s no surprise that transparency of costs is a key issue for SMEs, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Fidler.

“The nation’s SME sector has faced unprecedented cashflow challenges, and right now, the ability to have a clear idea of finance costs is critical.”

To this end, OnDeck considers itself a “pioneer” in the adoption of SMARTBox, a tool that facilitates standardising pricing disclosure.

“Where SMARTBox makes a valuable difference is allowing brokers and their SME clients to proactively weigh up different commercial finance options,” Fidler explained.

“Now, more than ever, it is critical for SMEs to be able to compare choices to make an informed decision.

“SMARTBox provides metrics that are easy for brokers and SME owners to understand. And it is a jargon-free zone – that’s a big plus for brokers to have conversations with their SME clients about the lending option that is right for their needs.”  

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