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Risks

I am often amazed at how much disbursements cost factoring clients over and above the ‘headline’ charges. It is not uncommon for some clients to be paying more in disbursement charges than they do in service fee and discounting fee combined.

I was with a client yesterday where this was the case. When I spoke to them about the fees they were very upset about the ‘games’ the factoring company concerned were playing.

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Smart factoring quotes have a new and improved website.

The site has been restructured to ensure that navigation is now easier and a bespoke quotation can be started and obtained from any page.

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We often get asked to recommend the best invoice finance company. I thought I would look at what makes a good invoice finance company.

In part it is a case of horses for courses. Some lenders are well suited to small businesses while others are better suited to larger businesses. The same goes for different sectors, different geographic locations and different scenarios.

Common complaints with lenders surround poor service levels. I must admit in some cases it is simply because the lender has said no to a client. Sometimes this is justified and in other instances it just seems like a lazy answer rather than doing some work to solve a problem.

Some lenders genuinely pride themselves on top quality service levels and customer satisfaction. This however can be a double edged sword as the same lenders can be described as expensive in comparison to lenders who cut corners and provide a poor service.

Communication is a key factor. As an invoice finance broker I can fully appreciate this. It seems like the most basic concept in any business relationship but I am often left amazed at how many lenders simply fail to return calls or e-mails both with myself and clients.

They say that service is inseparable from the people that provide it. This means that staff within invoice finance companies need to be engaged and happy. This comes as a result of fair remuneration, good training, clear goals and a good environment to work in. Some lenders clearly provide this while I know that others simply don’t. It may be a bit of a generalisation but the lenders that treat their staff properly also seem to be the 0ones that treat their clients properly.

It is interesting to see certain invoice finance providers now using specialist departments to deal with businesses that operate in the construction sector.

In part this is really good news for businesses that are definitely a part of the construction sector. If they are very much entrenched in contractual debt, applications for payment and stage payments then a lot of businesses would not have a suitable cash flow solution. Now they at least have an option albeit an expensive one with low prepayments. That said it is probably structured and priced according to risk although part of me feels in some instances lenders are taking advantage where they feel they are the only lender willing to assist.

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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.

Factoring Rates can differ dramatically from lender to lender. We will have a look at what variables impact on the pricing of a factoring facility and then we will look at why some factoring companies are more expensive than others.

What impacts on the service fee?

The service fee is what the lender charges for administering your facility and it is typically determined by workload. This is dictated by the number of debtors you have an also the number of invoices you issue. Turnover also has a huge impact on your service fee and typically the higher your turnover the lower the percentage service fee.

The discounting fee, what impacts on this?

This is the cost of borrowing and it should reflect the risk the company is taking. The total fee is made up of the base rate and the margin. Some lenders use the Bank of England base rate while others use LIBOR. Watch out also for the minimum  base rates which a lot of lenders put in place. The margin is often dictated by their credit policies and with negotiation can often be reduced.

These are the 2 main fees but it is important to be aware of additional fees and charges. Always consider total costs when looking at different offers. Please also consider what service is actually on offer and ensure it meets the needs of your business. Factoring rates are obviously important but so are service levels and facility structure.

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.

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