Banking on SME growth in WA
From a PowerPoint presentation to an ASX-listed national business comprising 350 staff across 15 offices, Judo Bank has come a long way in only six years.
Australia’s first SME-focused challenger bank was created with the vision “to bring back the craft of relationship banking”.
“We were built from the ground up by a team of highly experienced banking professionals who saw an opportunity to change the way that we approached SME lending,” says Judo Bank WA Managing Director Ben Tuszynski.
“Our vision is to bring back the craft of relationship banking, or what we call banking as it used to be, banking as it should be.”
Tuszynski says the pandemic, in particular the disruptions on the east coast in 2021, didn’t translate to WA, where Judo Bank has seen strong business and consumer sentiment.
However, some of the challenges faced by customers include “labour issues, in terms of getting people into the State, wage rises, access to equipment, and of course, access to funding”, he says.
1 in 4 SMEs knocked back
Tuszynski says research shows one in four SMEs get knocked back for funding, for a multitude of reasons.
“We believe at Judo that a lot of the SME lenders out there have a challenge thinking outside the square, and really focus on probably more the security than actually who the customer is,” he says.
“Whereas at Judo we like to focus on the customer and exactly … where they've been, where they're going and how they're going to get there and how we can support them."
Judo Bank opened its WA office on July 1, 2020, and has since grown to a team of 15 people supporting several hundred SME customers across WA.
SMEs in growth mode
Tuszynski says a lot of SMEs in WA are in growth mode, and require access to funding.
“There's been a lot of working capital pressures that have meant that cash flow has become strained and that's where we believe we can come into the play in order to support them with their growth over the next term,” he says.
He says joining CCIWA was partly prompted by being “the new kid on the block in WA”.
“We thought no better organisation than CCIWA, which is really at the heart of the business community and can help us understand exactly what the WA SME economy wants and how we can better service them,” he says.
For more information go to www.judo.bank (Terms and Conditions apply).