Export Finance Australia provides finance solutions to Australian exporters. Greg Caisley, its Chief Customer Officer, SME, points to several changes in the export landscape that have altered the way the organisation works.
The Australian Export Awards celebrates its 60th year in 2022. This major milestone is just 5 years less than Export Finance Australia’s years in operation.
Export Finance Australia’s financial solutions include loans, bonds, guarantees and structured finance for businesses of all sizes.
This makes Export Finance Australia an integral part of Australia’s global trade and investment activities. Its support enables Aussie export businesses, jobs and communities to grow.
Export Finance Australia has sponsored the Australian Export Awards for 27 years. The sponsorship goes way beyond a dollar figure, says Greg Caisley, Export Finance Australia’s Chief Customer Officer, SME.
‘Export Finance Australia employees have been involved in the awards as judges over the years,’ says Caisley. ‘This gives us a deep understanding of how export businesses operate and the challenges and opportunities they face. Many of our customers have also been entrants, finalists and winners.’
Caisley points out that Export Finance Australia’s role is to support Australian exporters with financial solutions and support their growth.
‘Our partnership with the Australian Export Awards is an extension of why we exist,’ he says. ‘There is a clear, fundamental alignment between the two organisations.’
Caisley points to several changes in the exporter landscape over the past few decades that have impacted the way Export Finance Australia works.
‘First of all, the world got smaller over the past few decades,’ he says. ‘A lot of Australian businesses now see exporting as a key part of their sales and growth plan.’
Indeed, the number of Aussie exporters has increased by approximately 30% over last 6 years, according to ABS figures. This has provided more opportunities for Export Finance Australia to support growth across industries.
The definition of who Export Finance Australia can support has also expanded. ‘It used to be based on physical exports, but now includes services and the wider benefits a transaction brings to the Australian economy,’ says Caisley. Services exports include professional, tourism and education services.
Within this changing landscape, the Export Finance Australia mandate has moved from simply funding exporters to also supporting businesses along the export supply chain. The organisation also provides funding for opportunities relating to overseas infrastructure, defence and critical minerals.
Importantly, Export Finance Australia is prioritising transactions in the renewables space, as well as those that reduce emissions.
Caisley points to the pandemic as a time of rapid and significant change for Aussie exporters. ‘COVID-19 has changed things,’ he says. ‘It’s shown how volatile markets are.’
Going forward, successful exporters will need to be dynamic, flexible and quick to react to market conditions. ‘Ten-year plans and set playbooks need to change. Businesses must build in a lot more Plan Bs and learn not to rely on one supplier or one market,’ Caisley says.
Caisley has seen many businesses moving away from just-in-time inventory management in the face of the pandemic. ‘This approach is capital efficient, but not very resilient,’ he says. ‘Businesses need to build more resilience into their supply chain. This can be as simple as carrying more componentry.’
Caisley also highlights that business is simply costing more since COVID-19. Many businesses need more working capital support and bigger cash buffers to navigate speed bumps.
‘We’ve adjusted many of our products to fulfil that need,’ says Caisley. ‘For example, we’ve expanded our remit to cover more general working capital to better support businesses, rather than tying support to specific contracts.’
Export Finance Australia is looking forward to continuing to support Aussie exports through the Australian Export Awards.
‘The Australian Export Awards have played an important part in recognising the success stories behind Australian exporters,’ says Caisley. ‘We see the awards as a tangible illustration of those outcomes.’