Factoring and Invoice Discounting – What Are the Differences?

Whether you are a new business dependent upon regular cash flow, or anticipate an increase in sales and are eager to take advantage of it, then perhaps you should consider a factoring facility. There are many benefits to factoring and invoice discounting, and they could prove to be the answer to your cash flow problems.

If you are already familiar with factoring then you will have also heard of invoice discounting. The invoice finance market consists of factoring and invoice discounting companies; these can be operated by well-known big banks or independently run specialised companies. Each one sets their own criteria, capabilities and prices which can vary greatly.

Factoring and discounting are both quite similar, but you need to have an understanding of both before you can make a decision about which would suit your business needs the best. Here is a quick explanation and their main advantages.

Invoice Factoring – Factoring is a finance facility that enables you to raise finance based on the value of your outstanding invoices. Instead of sending out invoices and then waiting up to a month or more for the cash to arrive, you can change them into cash almost instantly. Many businesses just starting out have come to the realisation that factoring offers a more flexible source of working capital than overdrafts or loans.

Factoring an invoice basically means that your company is selling the financial rights of the invoice to the factoring company. The transaction is arranged as a sale and the factoring company will pay you the invoice amount in two payments. The first payment is known as the advance and given to your company as soon as you sell the invoice to them; this can be up to 90% of the invoice. The remaining 10% to 20%, the rebate, is received when the client actually settles the invoice.

When applying for a business loan you generally have to wait some time before finding out if the application was successful or not. Factoring is much easier and quicker as the waiting period is much shorter. As the factoring companies generally buy the invoices from the company, their main worry is if the company paying the invoices has good credit, this means that small businesses or those needing to raise cash have a much better chance of getting a factoring line, as long as they work with a strong client list.

There are various fees attached to invoice factoring services, they can be higher than the cost of a business loan and are decided according to the size of the line, the credit quality of the invoices, and how stable the client’s business is.

Invoice discounting – This works in the same way that factoring does, by freeing up cash from your invoices. The difference is that the lender does not offer credit management services to facilitate collecting your outstanding invoices. The service will just release up the invoice value, which can be up to 90%, and you keep control of the credit management. The remaining 10% is then accessible when your customers pay the invoice.

Cash is the livelihood of every company and if you are owed it but don’t not actually have it in your hand then this can cause you a lot of frustration and potential headaches. Invoice discounting lets you keep control of your debtor book as you are in charge of managing the credit, this means that your business is responsible for collecting clients outstanding due payments.

The advantages of using invoice discounting are that it has no affect on the relationship between you and your clients. There is no reason for them to know about the contract, particularly if you operate a confidential invoice discounting facility. This ensures you are able to carry on providing the same credit terms arranged prior with your clients without affecting the company’s cash flow.

Your business retains control of the company’s sales ledger and manages the credit control. By releasing up to 90% of the gross invoice value it provides your business with the answer to cash flow problems. Usually invoice discounting is cheaper than factoring as it doesn’t take up as much time, however, it does have a higher risk potential.

A quality factoring company will provide you cash against your existing debtor book and finance invoices as you raise them. They can also assist by collecting the outstanding payments by way of their credit management service.