Factoring: An Overview
What Is Factoring?
‘Factoring’ is when a third party commercial finance company purchases the Invoices or Accounts Receivable from a business. The finance company concerned is called a ‘Factor’ and the transaction is known as ‘Factoring’. Factoring is also known as ‘Accounts Receivable Financing’ because factoring occurs when a business needs to access cash quickly, quicker than if it had to wait the 30 to 60 days (or longer) to receive payment from a customer.
The majority of factoring companies purchase invoices and advance cash within 24 hours, although the terms and nature of factoring can differ between industries and different financial service providers. Depending on the industry, the customers’ credit histories, and various other criteria, the advance rate can range from between 80% and 95%. The business also receives back office support from the factor. Once the factor has collected from the business’s customers, the business will be paid the reserve balance of the invoices, less a nominated fee for assuming the collection risk.
The main benefit of factoring is that a business is not required to wait one or two months (sometimes more) for payment by a customer – the business will receive cash in hand to operate and grow their business. It’s important to note that factoring is not a loan: there’s no debt with factoring. Funding is unrestricted, which means that a business has more flexibility than borrowing from a bank.
The Five Simple Steps of Factoring
1. As a business, you provide a service to your customer;
2. The invoice for this service is sent to a factoring company;
3. On this invoice, you’ll receive a cash advance from the factoring company;
4. It’s now up to the factoring company to collect full payment from your customer;
5. Once payment has been received, you’ll receive the balance of your invoice account from the factoring company – minus their fee.
The Advantages of Factoring
There are many reasons why factoring has become a popular and valuable financial tool for businesses today. The key benefit of factoring is that a business receives a quick boost to its cash flow: in fact, many factoring companies offer cash on their Accounts Receivable within 24 hours! The factoring company takes responsibility for collecting customer payments, and may also evaluate the payment and credit histories of a business’s customers.
Other Benefits Include:
• When a business needs access to cash, factoring can be customized and managed in order to provide the necessary capital;
• The business balance sheet will not show this financing as a debt;
• Factoring is not based on the company’s credit or business history: it’s based on the quality of its customers’ credit;
• Factoring is not determined by the company’s net worth: it provides a Line of Credit based on sales;
• There’s no limit to the amount of financing through factoring, unlike a conventional loan;
• Factoring is an ideal solution for start up businesses that often require immediate cash flow.
Is the Concept of Factoring New?
No, it’s not! In fact, the origin of factoring comes from overseas trade among nations and dates back several centuries to the 1400s when it became part of doing business in England. In the year 1620 it arrived in America with the Pilgrims. Like other financial tools, factoring has improved and evolved over the years. It became an effective way of creating cash flow in the United States at a timewhen companies faced strict limitations when trying to secure loans in the country’s damaged banking system.
Who Uses Factoring?
Factoring is available for companies of all sizes, ranging from a one person business to Fortune 500 companies. Every business can use factoring as an effective way of increasing their cash flow. In addition, factoring spans all types of industries, from transportation, trucking, textiles, manufacturing and distribution, staffing agencies, and oil and gas.
The cash generated from factoring is used by companies to purchase new equipment, pay for inventory, expand operations, add employees, and basically cover any expenses related to the running of their business. The beauty of factoring is that it allows companies to make quick decisions and to expand at a faster pace.
How Does Factoring Work?
For the purpose of this post, we’ll describe a fictional example as a way of illustrating a common factoring situation.
XYZ Transport is a trucking company: their intention is to double their fleet size over the next two years in order to service more clients in the West. The company has just successfully won a new customer on the West Coast who requires freight to be shipped from Oklahoma to Los Angeles. This new customer is more than happy to pay for the service within 30 days; however, that won’t cover all the immediate costs involved, like payroll, fuel, and maintenance costs of running the route.
This is a familiar situation for the owners of XYZ Transport: the lack of available cash flow in the past has prevented the company from accepting new business. So now XYZ Transport has turned to a factoring company: they have agreed to sell the West Coast customer’s invoice to the factoring company in exchange for a 90% advance on the total amount – within 24 hours! This much needed influx of cash will replenish the trucking company’s reserves and allow it to continue running the Oklahoma – Los Angeles route. In addition, XYZ Transport now has the added flexibility of taking on new customers.
How Much Do Companies Factor?
Each company has its own unique business needs, so somecompanies only factor invoices for customers that are slow in paying, whilst other companies factor all of their invoices. Companies can factor receivables ranging from a few thousand dollars right through to millions of dollars each month.
What’s the Difference between Factoring and a Traditional Bank Loan?
Factoring, also known as Accounts Receivable Financing, is a quick, flexible and effective way for businesses to create a steady cash flow stream. See below for how factoring is different to a Line of Credit at a bank or a traditional business loan