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Risks

Favell Recruitment are a family owned business started by brother and sister Oliver and Alicia Favell. They are a recruitment company based in South Yorkshire that specialise in the construction sector.

The business started trading in 2014 and to finance it’s rapid growth they entered into an invoice finance facility with Aldermore Bank Plc. They set this up on a the Aldermore ABC product which is a fixed price facility and they had an overall credit facility of £50,000. Sadly, the facility did not generate the required working capital but when they looked to terminate the agreement Aldermore levied early termination fees.

Problems

The facility had run satisfactorily but they soon outgrew the facility. In order to double the facility limit to £100,000 Aldermore doubled their fee structure to £900 per month plus an additional 0.65% of turnover for bad debt protection. The facility was also restrictive as there was a 50% concentration limit on the facility and their top customer could represent more than 50% of their sales ledger. This put pressure in Favell’s cash flow as the facility was not generating the required cash.

Favell Recruitment felt that the facility was both restrictive and expensive. As a result Oliver looked to source a better structured facility. A facility was sourced from another lender that provided an increased facility limit, increased prepayment, increased concentration limit, full funding limits on all their debtors and also provided considerable savings.

Cost Comparison

Lender                                                        Aldermore                                         New Lender
Facility Limit                                            £100,000                                            £200,000
Prepayment                                              85%                                                      90%
Concentration Limit                              50%                                                      100%
Service Fee                                              £900 flat fee                                       1%
Bad debt protection                               0.65% of gross turnover                  Included in service fee
Discounting Fee                                     Included in flat fee                            2.5% over bank base rate

In terms of costs, if we analyse the fees paid by Favell to Aldermore in December we can see that despite borrowing just over £7,000 at the end of December having notified just £23,164 of invoices the fees for the month were £1,230.16. Of this, £900 was fixed cost service fee which represents 3.88% of turnover and this did not include the bad debt protection.
If the new lenders facility had been in place the costs would have been circa £450. This is a reduction of over 60% in costs. Due to the inflexible fixed fee arrangement and the low turnover in December due to the slowdown in the construction industry this may be somewhat skewed. However, the service fee element would have been just £231 compared to £900 and the additional bad debt protection.

If we assume a turnover of £700,000 and average borrowing of £75,000 the Aldermore facility would cost £16,260 versus the new facility of £10,650. Again a considerable saving of 35%.

Termination Penalties

Favell Recruitment approached Aldermore to advise that they wanted to leave. Sadly, despite the facility being restrictive and expensive Aldermore advised that there would be a termination fee.
Aldermore are members of the Asset Based Finance Association (ABFA) and on Aldermore’s own website they state that “as members of ABFA we take these commitments seriously and are dedicated to ensuring they are RESPECTED at all times.”

If you look at the ABFA Code of Conduct and more specifically the ‘Guidance to the ABFA Code’ it states:

“3.2.3 Where a client requests termination of a facility without the required or any period of notice, even though Members may not have any legal obligation to agree, they are encouraged to give reasonable consideration to such request, particularly where continuation of the facility may cause hardship to the client.”

There is obviously no legal requirement for Aldermore or any other ABFA member to allow a client to terminate a contract early. However, given that Aldermore could not fully fund Favell’s largest customer due to concentration restrictions, it could be interpreted that “continuation of the facility may cause hardship to the client” given that it was restricting profitable trading and growth with their largest customer.

Due to the restrictions on the facility and also what Oliver considered to be excessive fees, Favell Recruitment felt they had no option but to pay the termination fee to Aldermore to exit the facility.
Oliver Favell commented, “This is not a good way to do business especially after it appears they were overcharging us. We were paying a lot of money for a restrictive facility with a £100,000 limit and now we are paying considerably less for a £200,000 facility. All in all I would not recomend Aldermore to anyone ”

With a better structured and more cost effective working capital facility we wish Favell Recruitment continued growth and success.

Do you want to access invoice discounting but don’t want to provide a personal guarantee?

Invoice finance without a personal guarantee is available. You can contact Funding Solutions on 0845 251 4040

Many invoice finance providers insist upon a personal guarantee and others only insist upon a guarantee if you are factoring. This seems strange to me as the lenders risk associated with invoice discounting is higher than it is with factoring. However, the criteria for invoice discounting with these lenders if far more stringent so the personal guarantee is less important.

Why do lenders look for a personal guarantee?

A typical requirement for a personal guarantee will be between 10-25% of the overall funding line while some lenders will look for unlimited personal guarantees in the first instance.

The reason lenders look for a personal guarantee is to keep the directors interested in a failed situation. If a guarantor stands to lose money under a guarantee they will help the lender collect in outstanding debts. It may mean they need to dig out a proof of delivery or a signed timesheet to help resolve a dispute.

Are personal guarantees called upon?

Rarely are personal guarantees called upon. Invoice finance lenders are lending against outstanding invoices and their calculation of prepayment relates to what they feel they will be able to collect out in a failed situation. On that basis the outstanding debt is repaid by collecting out what is owed by customers. This can be a troublesome process so the directors or guarantors help is often vital and as already stressed the guarantee is there to keep them interested in assisting.

In fairness banks and other lenders are becoming far less reliant on personal guarantees than they used to. Mostly due to reputational risk, especially where the family home is the main asset underpinning a guarantee.

So do I have to provide a guarantee?

In short no. There are lenders available who will provide funding without a personal guarantee.

Shop around or use a reputable broker such as Funding Solutions.

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.

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