Invoice finance (IF) is not considered a credible source of finance among some business owners because of its relatively high cost and onerous terms. Is this perception justified? I will argue it is not with the introduction of single invoice finance.
What is invoice finance?
It is the sale of a company's sales ledger for cash providing an ongoing source of cash as invoices are issued to customers by the company. The company might retain the collection of cash or transfer this and the associated credit risk, to the funder.
Some conventional IF facilities can impose numerous types of fees and charges, and require security and a commitment from the company to sell the its entire sales ledger to the finance company.
Some companies offer a refreshing financial alternative, offering to buy just a single invoice and charging as few as just one fee and generally offering a more flexible funding alternative.
What is single invoice finance?
As its name suggests, it is the purchase of one invoice for cash from a company. The company does not need to sell any further invoices so single invoice finance can be used by companies to raise cash as they need it. Also, they might not need to provide security such as a debenture or a personal guarantee.
Single or multiple IF are effective tools for cash management because they liquidate illiquid assets i.e., they convert debtors into cash. The cash realised can be reinvested by the company in profitable projects or used to pay back expensive debt.
Some borrowers might argue that on an annualised basis, the cost of invoice finance is high compared to a conventional loan. That comparison is like comparing apples to oranges because the two financing instruments work differently. A loan is a continuous source of finance whereas single invoice finance is discrete - providing finance for up to 90 days or less. Annualisation of the cost of invoice finance is not therefore consistent with its use.
Though the interest rate on a loan might look relatively attractive, the cost of arranging and administering it must also be factored in, such as the arrangement, commitment, non-utilisation, and exit fees, plus servicing charges and legal costs of documentation. There might also be costs to pursue and recover bad debts, or to pay for credit protection. Invoice finance has its own arrangement and administration costs that might be more or less than a bank loan.
Invoice finance is therefore a credible alternative to a loan because:
What is an invoice?
Invoices are a form of trade receivable, i.e., they are an asset on a company's balance sheet representing money to be received by that company at some future date - at the time the debtor pays the invoice. At that time, the debtor (payer of the invoice) will no longer appear on the company's balance sheet and instead it will be replaced by an equal amount of cash (which is also an asset). There is no net increase or decrease in assets, merely conversion from one to another.
If that debtor does not pay, then the asset will be written off as a bad debt (a cost in the profit & loss account) and assets will then reduce (no cash came in). Granting time (credit) to buyers to pay for their purchases is therefore an example of credit risk for the company giving time.
If later - perhaps through credit collection procedures - the debtor pays the invoice, then the bad debt is added to the p&l as a profit (income) and cash increased by the amount received. The assets increase and are offset by an increase in profit (equity on the balance sheet). All is well again.
Selling an invoice to Cash for Invoices Limited
Before the debtor defaults, the company can sell the invoice to a company such as Cash for Invoices Limited that will offer to buy just one invoice when the company wants to sell. There is no commitment for the company to sell, and no commitment for Cash for Invoices Limited to buy. The company wants to exchange an invoice for cash - perhaps it needs the cash sooner than the invoice payment date.
Cash for Invoices Limited will make an offer after conducting due diligence on the selling company and on the debtor especially. The debtor is a key concern for Cash for Invoices Limited because if there is a subsequent default then Cash for Invoices Limited will not require the seller to buyback the invoice. The sale is therefore non-recourse and Cash for Invoices Limited has to suffer the consequences of a default. It will commence steps to recover the debt. These can include issuing letters for payment, appointing a solicitor, making a court claim, or making a claim under a credit insurance policy.
Retention to mitigate credit risk
To mitigate the potential costs of trying to recover payment on an invoice that Cash for Invoices Limited purchased but which goes into default, Cash for Invoices Limited will retain up to 10% of the value of that invoice from the purchase price. If there is no default (the debtor pays the invoice on time and in full) then Cash for Invoices Limited will pay the retention to the seller when the debtor pays the invoice.
Features of single invoice finance offered by Cash for Invoices Limited
In addition to being non-recourse, Cash for Invoices Limited does not require a commitment from the seller to sell all its invoices, nor will Cash for Invoices Limited charge an arrangement fee for a purchase. Cash for Invoices Limited will not ask for ongoing fees because there is no facility between the seller and Cash for Invoices Limited. The transaction is entered into whenever the company needs cash and Cash for Invoices Limited agrees to purchase the single invoice or multiple invoices. Compared to bank factoring facilities, Cash for Invoices Limited's single invoice finance service is far more simple and has no tie-ins and far fewer fees, just one.
Supplier invoice finance offered by Cash for Invoices Limited
Cash for Invoices Limited also helps companies who need more time. Why do they need more time? Because suppliers who have sent them an invoices are demanding payment but the company needs more time to pay.
In such situations, Cash for Invoices Limited can offer to buy the supplier single invoice for cash. That cash is paid to the supplier not to the company Cash for Invoices Limited is helping. Having got the supplier off the company's back, Cash for Invoices Limited allows the company the extra time it needs to get cash and then to use that cash to pay Cash for Invoices Limited for the supplier invoice Cash for Invoices Limited purchased.
Cash for Invoices Limited's single invoice finance service therefore helps companies (sole traders and SMEs) who either need cash or who need more time.
To find out more about Cash for Invoices Limited's single invoice finance service contact Cash for Invoices Limited.