Gateway Commercial Finance

Invoice Factoring: An Appealing Alternative to Loans and Lines of Credit

Raising capital and predicting cash flow are constant challenges for many businesses. Capital that may be needed to undertake a project, fuel growth, or meet obligations may sometimes be unavailable because of the unpredictable nature of accounts receivable.

While some companies raise capital by issuing equity or taking on debt, there may be better methods for some businesses. Issuing equity dilutes ownership. Taking out a loan or line of credit adds more debt to the balance sheet and may only be an option if the company’s credit meets bank standards. These are a few reasons why many businesses are turning to a third option called invoice factoring.

Factoring Credit Lines

Invoice factoring has been around for centuries, and in some industries, like textiles and clothing manufacturing, it has long been a routine part of doing business. Invoice factoring has recently grown in popularity because it allows companies to immediately leverage their accounts receivable to access capital without adding debt or diluting equity.

In a factoring transaction, a business sells its accounts receivable to a third party, called a factor. The factor can compensate for the business in one of two methods. In advance factoring, the factoring companies advance a portion of the receivables to the business. The advance is typically 80 to 90 percent of the total receivable balance. The factor then collects on the invoices, deducts a commission and other charges, and then pays the balance to the business.

While factoring may sound like a loan against receivables, it is not. Under GAAP, the transaction is considered a sale. Moreover, a transaction differs from a loan in how it is underwritten. In a loan, the lender or bank would assess the business’s creditworthiness before approving the loan. In factoring, the factor is less concerned with the business’s credit and more concerned with the likelihood that the invoices will be paid.

Businesses use factoring to their advantage in several ways. The most obvious use is raising capital to meet obligations when little cash is on hand. Factoring can help a business through challenging times without adding debt to the balance sheet.

However, companies can also use factoring as a strategic tool. Many customers wait as long as possible to pay invoices, essentially using the business as a short-term lender. The business can regain control of its cash flow by factoring in the invoices and immediately obtaining cash. They can then use that cash for more urgent matters that can contribute to and fuel the company’s growth.

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