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Invoice factoring Company

Trade finance can be a valuable source of finance that can facilitate international trade. We typically use trade finance along side an invoice finance facility to assist importers.

If an importer has a confirmed order from a credit worthy customer we can provide a letter of credit to a supplier guaranteeing payment. They can then ship the goods. Once received the supplier is paid by the LC. The goods are delivered and an invoice is raised. An invoice finance facility can finance the invoice which repays the trade finance facility. When the customer pays the invoice finance facility is repaid.

The whole transaction from start to finish is financed. This allows small businesses to accept large orders they would otherwise have to turn down because of lack of working capital.

We were recently approached by a haulage business based in Glasgow who wanted to review their facility. It was a very nice business and they advised that they had only ever reviewed their facility with the Scottish banks. Given the recent well publicised problems they wanted to look at other alternatives. It should also be stated that they are a Scottish registered company.

While we knew the companies that could provide factoring Glasgow to a Scottish registered company we decided to go back to the market to see if anyone new had this capability. We were delighted to see that a few new lenders now had the capability to help businesses based in Scotland and were very keen to do so.

In short we were able to source a very competitive facility for our client.

If you are a business based in Glasgow or anywhere else in Scotland it really is worth exploring what opportunities are available to you.

We often receive inquiries from clients who are keen to transfer from one lender to another because the credit control is poor.

I am afraid to say that often the provider accused of providing a poor service is a bank owned factoring company. However, when we ask how the factoring company was chosen there is also a common theme. They were either chosen because that is who the business banks with so it was a default choice or because they were the cheapest.

Without going to the market it is almost impossible to understand what your options are. If you don’t understand what your options are then how can you make an informed decision?

If you have chosen the very cheapest option then are you really surprised that the service does not quite meet your expectations? Would you expect free champagne on an Easyjet flight or free home installation from Ikea. No, of course you wouldn’t.

Typically with credit control from a factoring company you will get what you pay for. The larger bank owned factors will typically fully automate their credit control and it will be done by automated letters and month end statements. They may call your largest debtors but it will be a hands off approach.

Other factoring companies will provide a hands on credit control service where they call each debtor and have open communication with you the client. This however is time consuming and as such the cost for such a service is more expensive.

When choosing a factoring facility it is important to understand what level of service you expect and choose a lender accordingly.

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.

Temporary Recruitment companies will often use some form of factoring or invoice discounting. It is almost a necessity in terms of how their cash flow works. Typically they are invoicing clients on 30 day terms and yet they are having to pay wages on a weekly basis.

A factoring agreement can provide up to 90% of the invoice value the day after the invoice is raised. This means that wages are covered and you don’t have to worry about waiting for clients to pay.

As an alternative to temporary recruitment factoring there are also full back office solutions that will take care of almost everything except finding clients and temp staff!!

If you are looking for a funding solution for your temporary recruitment company it is worth speaking to Smart factoring Quotes to fully understand what your options are. Smart Factoring quotes have helped to source facilities for temporary recruitment companies who are new starts all the way through to companies with turnovers in excess of £50m.

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.

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.