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What is Factoring and Invoice Discounting?

by John Courtney

Factoring and invoice discounting (known as debtor finance) can dramatically improve your cash flow by releasing money as soon as you have completed an order and raised an invoice rather than having to wait for your customer to pay. This makes them ideal for funding growth. Because its linked to sales, factoring or invoice discounting is ideal if your business does not have the financial track record or security available to negotiate sufficient overdraft facilities.

A key advantage is flexibility. The amount you can borrow grows in line with sales and it is often possible for you to repay bank facilities and release previously pledged security.

Typically, when factoring is set up you can borrow about 80% of the value of your approved invoices less than 90-120 days old. Thereafter, cash will be made available against invoices on a daily basis with the remaining 20%, less charges, once the value of the invoice has been collected. Once the system is established, the level of advance you receive against invoices depends on a number of issues, but can rise as high as 100%.

Once in place, there is no limit to the amount you can borrow as the finance is linked directly to sales. This is in sharp contrast to bank overdrafts, which require regular re-negotiation and arrangement fees.

The cost of such a facility is normally up to 3% over base rate for the money borrowed together with a service charge linked to gross turnover of at least 0.5% depending upon the level of annual sales, the number invoices raised and how many live accounts are on the sales ledger. Small addition charges are often made for extra services such as credit insurance.

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