A decade ago, you couldn’t order an Uber on your phone or indulge in a Netfilx binge on your iPad.  You couldn’t swipe right to your dating future on Tinder or book a place to stay on Airbnb.

As we head towards the end of the year and indeed the end of the decade, it seems like a good opportunity to reflect on some of the major changes that have taken place over the last ten years.  No, I’m not talking about our waistlines or our hairlines (although there will be more on that later).

The last decade has seen real and lasting change in the financial landscape of our country.  Something highlighted by the number, as well as the types of financial institutions operating in Australia in 2009 vs. 2019.

In 2009 there were 57 Banks in Australia, these can be defined as traditional lenders with similar product offerings including, loans structured around property and other personal collateral.  For small businesses looking to secure finance in 2009 the options were similar, with minimal control and a high dose of personal risk.

Today, there are 87 Banks, 195 non-bank lenders and 629 Fintechs vying for our business.  The significance of this is highlighted by the multitude of products now readily available.  Customers no longer have the constraints traditionally placed on them by lenders, and in many cases, finance can be secured online at the click of a button – an inconceivable thought ten years ago.

From its conception in 2013, I am proud to say that Apricity has flourished in this changing landscape.  We work in a fast paced and dynamic sector and I am happy to say that we are part of a next generation lender, providing specific finance solutions that are better for businesses.  From small beginnings less than a decade ago, there is now true recognition for non-traditional finance products that enable business growth and support the entrepreneurial endeavours of our SMEs.

The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprises Ombudsman (ASBFEO) Kate Carnell is a leading champion for the SMEs community and plays a vital role in support of our industry.  As ASBFEO, Carnell fights for fairer payment terms and better access to finance for SMEs, helping to break down the traditional barriers that hamper SME growth.

It is pleasing that at the end of 2019 SMEs looking to grow, employ and stimulate the economy now have a wealth of options available to them, primarily from providers who simply didn’t exist ten (or even five years ago).

The finance industry is not the only industry that has seen substantial change.  Another sector that has grown significantly is businesses operating on the online space with retail revenue at $6.691 billion in 2009 vs. $23.726 billion in 2019.  Our behaviour has changed online too, we shop around for the lowest price, our purchasing decisions are led by reviews and influencers (rather than the opinions of our ‘real life’ friends, peers, colleagues).

Social Media has exploded in the last decade with almost 50% of Australian SMEs using social media for business.  Global Facebook users have increased from 242,000,000 in 2009 to 2,414,000,000 in 2019 and LinkedIn users have grown from 42,000,000 in 2009 to 660,000,000 in 2019.   However, Instagram (our heavily filtered life-lens) did not exist in 2009 – now there are over 100 million active users.

We have seen social change, with same sex marriage legalised in 2017 and the number of women appointed to ASX company boards increasing from 10 in 2009 to 100 in 2019.  Have a look at the property prices in 2009 as well as the cost of a loaf of bread, a pint of beer or a litre of petrol.

The next question to ask is what can we expect in the next 10 years?

There are many predictions for the coming decade, climate change being increasingly at the forefront of discussions including the impact on current practices in energy, farming and even globalisation.  We are also said to be in the cusp of the 4th Industrial revolution, characterised by machines talking to machines, omnipresent connectivity, artificial intelligence, big data and automation.  We may be travelling in electric driverless cars sooner than we think.

Looking back on the last 10 years has really solidified in my mind the vast amount of change that has taken place.  We are all different people to those we were in 2009, we live in a world where just about everything we need is a click away.  We are perhaps more aware of what we may face as humans going into the 2020’s – or maybe what’s to come is beyond our comprehension at the end of 2019…

Either way, I look forward to the challenges in life and business with an open mind and an open heart.

Here’s to the 2020s!

Linden Toll
CEO, Apricity Finance, Australia & New Zealand