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Stories Tagged ‘alternative finance’

Construction factoring is a topic that we have covered several times on this forum.

It is a sector that struggles to find suitable forms of working capital finance as banks are reluctant to offer overdraft facilities and invoice finance companies are uncomfortable with the risks associated with the construction industry.

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When speaking with clients we are often asked to source invoice discounting facilities on their behalf. When I press the prospect on why they want invoice discounting it is often because they feel the facility is confidential and they want to retain control of their credit control.

I think traditionally invoice discounting was confidential but I am seeing more and more lenders insisting upon disclosure and disclosed invoice discounting seems to be more common.

If you are looking to retain control of your credit control then invoice discounting whether confidential or disclosed will meet your needs. You may also consider a CHOCS facility which is essentially factoring but allows you to do your own credit control. CHOCS stands for Client Handles Own Collections and just to confuse matters it can also be disclosed or confidential. Typically a CHOCS facility will be more readily available than an invoice discounting facility because the criteria are less stringent.

If you are looking for a confidential facility then obviously a confidential invoice discounting facility will meet your requirements. However, you may also wish to consider confidential CHOCS which is more readily available and also confidential factoring where credit control is done by the factoring company but in the name of your business.

Recruitment finance can take various formats. Typically it depends on the type of recruitment and also the size of the company. We will look at the three main options available:

Recruitment factoring: this is suitable for recruitment companies of all sizes and for both temporary recruitment companies and permanent recruitment companies. It provides an advance against invoices raised of up to 90% allowing temps wages to be paid. It is also suitable for permanent recruitment companies but prepayments are typically around 70% for perms. Recruitment factoring is available to new start businesses aswell as larger well established companies. It includes a credit control service and can also include credit protection to reduce the risk of bad debts.

Recruitment invoice Discounting: suitable for companies that are better established and have a good credit control function within the business. This type of recruitment finance does not include a credit control service. It can be confidential or disclosed and can include credit protection to reduce the risk of bad debts. Again it can be used for either temporary recruitment or permanent recruitment.

Recruitment back office solutions: well suited to recruitment companies that want to outsource the full back office function. This service can provide finance in the same way as factoring but 100% prepayment levels can be achieved. It also includes payroll and admin services as well as optional credit protection and credit control.

If you have a requirement for recruitment finance it is worth contacting Smart Factoring Quotes to discuss your options in detail.

There seem to be several invoice finance brokerages appearing that are linked to insolvency practitioners. Only today I was asked by a client of mine why this was so I thought a post may be due on the topic.

In short the insolvency practitioners see the invoice finance leads that give to lenders as a carrot to attract insolvency work from the lenders. In fact some of the IP owned brokers will only give leads to lenders if they give them insolvency work in return. I have seen some e-mail marketing from one such broker offering 2 new deals to a lender in return for a ‘fee generative appointment’.

Reciprocity is a buzz word in many industries these days and the invoice finance industry is no different.

However, in my opinion it does raise concerns for business owners who approach these brokerages looking for independent and impartial advice about factoring or invoice discounting. There is every chance that the business will simply be placed with the lender that they ‘owe’ a deal to. If this is the case it means that they are not really acting in the best interests of that client.

I am quite often approached by clients who insist on using confidential facilities. The reasons for this can be varied and I always try to accomodate their requirement.

Traditionally confidential invoice finance has been hard to obtain as the only product available was confidential invoice discounting. The criteria for this were quite rigid and it was reserved for large, profitable business with a good finance and administration function.

The good news is that confidential facilities are now more readily available than ever. This makes the life of an invoice finance broker much easier as it means we have a wider range of products to offer clients based on their unique requirements.

Confidential facilities now include confidential factoring, confidential CHOCS there is a new confidential product due to be launched in January 2012 which we are quite excited about.

As an invoice finance broker it is interesting to hear the complaints I hear from clients about invoice finance companies. Some I may add are totally unfounded and relate to the invoice finance company not agreeing to an overpayment or something that they shouldn’t have to do. However, some seem to follow a common theme and these were highlighted in a forum by the Federation for Small Business.

I want to explore some of the themes that were raised:

  • Hidden costs and unexpected fees – it would be fair to say that not all invoice finance companies are as transparent as they could be in relation to fees. We often see agreements where a minimum base rate is hidden in the small prints. Lists of dispursements are also rarely shared at first meetings which makes comparison of facilities almost impossible. On that basis headline rates can be misleading as some companies have virtually no additional fees.
  • Restrictions on funding. I think this complaint often boils down to a lack of understanding on the clients part and poor communication from the lender. It is imperative any company entering into an invoice finance agreement understand what invoices are eligible for funding. In my mind I believe that should be explained properly by the lender at the outset.
  • Termination fees. This seems to be a thorny topic at present and relates to the fees charged should you wish to leave early. The justification of these fees relates to the fact that the costs of setting up a facility are typically incurred either at commencement or even precommencement by the invoice finance company. As such it takes the contract period to recover these costs and turn a profit. Should a client look to leave early then they incur a loss. However, fees such as arrangement fees, legal documentation fees and survey fees have crept into the industry. On that basis surely the initial set up costs are paid for by the client upfront. If this is the case I am not sure early termination fees can be justified.
  • Collect out fees. This is a fee applied to the ledger upon the failure of the business. Some lenders apply a 15% fee the gross value of the ledger when the company fails. Is this excessive? In some instances most definitely. I saw a bank (one that is now government owned) charge a collect out fee on a ledger where there was actually no borrowing. The implications to business owners is often minimal and it is creditors and often HMRC that lose out on the funds being taken. However, where there is a shortfall and a personal guarantee has been given it could cost the directors personally.

I am sure that there are more complaints from many clients but overall I would maintain that the vast majority of invoice finance clients are happy. there is obviously always room for improvement.

From my perspective it just seems a shame that the same invoice finance companies get mentioned time and again and seem to become notorious for certain practices. It can give the industry at large a bad name.

Invoice Finance is available in Newcastle from a large selection of lenders.

The challenge is to find the best lender to meet the needs of your Newcastle based business.

This will depend on a large number of factors including your financial status, turnover, sector, how you raise invoices and who your customers are. Each invoice finance company has their own individual criteria and characteristics and because of this there will be on particular lender who is best suited to meet your needs.

Smart Factoring Quotes understand each lenders criteria and capabilities. This allows us to source the best possible facility for your business.

We have recently been approach by several businesses in and around Birmingham who are looking for factoring facilities. Being based in Birmingham has some serious advantages as it means that virtually every factoring company in the UK can service businesses there as they are so central in terms of location.

The challenge for any business based in Birmingham is choosing the right lender. Not all factoring facilities are the same – far from it. As most require a contract to be signed it is important you choose the right factoring facility and lender.

Invoice finance companies each have their own target market and this will be based on business turnover, sector, geography, debtor profile, etc.

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