Category Archives: Io Finance

SR&ED Tax Credit Financing

SR&ED Tax Credit Financing is somewhat misunderstood, or in fact not really considered by many Canadian business owners and financial managers in Canada. We use the word ‘considered ‘simply because many SRED claimants are not aware that their SR&ED claims can be financing as soon as they are filed – in some cases prior to filing!

So let’s return to our topic – what are the two things you need to know about financing your SRED tax credit. We’ll keep it simple –

1. You have to have a SR&ED claim to obtain financing for the claim!

2. A SRED financing claim is in fact similar to any business financing application – frankly it’s quite simpler and more focused!

Is that it? Yes, it’s as simple as that. SR&ED tax credit financing is one of the most unique ways to bring valuable cash flow and working capital back into your firm. Just the very nature of SRED itself suggests that your firm relies heavily on the credit to recover the capital you have spent under the government’s quite generous non repayable grant.

So let’s return to our point # 1 – to finance a claim, you need a claim. The SRED program in Canada is the governments rebate; in effect it’s a grant, back to Canadian business for any investment you make in research and development. More and more information is coming out everyday from government and private sources which suggest that many firms who are eligible for the program either aren’t aware of it, or even more disappointing, don’t know how to go about preparing and filing a claim. We are often amazed when some clients infer that it’s ‘too much trouble ‘to prepare a SRED claim.

A couple of points can be made on this subject. We have met a small handful, and we repeat small handful! Of clients over the years who prepare their own filings. This of course is possible, legal, and in some business owners minds ‘cost effective. The hard reality is that most firms don’t have the technical and financial know how to complete a claim on their own. (Apologies to the firms which successfully prepare a file their own claims – you know who you are!)

The majority of claims in the SRED area are prepared by what is known as SRED consultants. We tell clients that these consultants are high specialized, are up to date on current government SRED and accounting matters, and in most cases work on contingency – meaning that they prepare the claim at their own risk and time, and charge a fee which is totally based on success of the final claim approval. If Canadian business owners and financial managers don’t choose to pay a contingency fee then they can play a flat rate based on the SRED consultant’s time on the claim and filing. Naturally more often than not the SRED fee has to be paid as soon as the claim is completed, even if you still have to wait several months to a year to get your funds.

More importantly, as it relates to the financing of the SRED claim, a claim tends to be more financeable when it is prepared by a reputable consultant in this area. And in fact when you claim is financed, either at time of filing or prior, the SRED consultant can also be paid in full or in part out of the financing.

So the bottom line on our point # 1 is simply – make yourself aware of the program if you are not, prepare a solid claim with the use of a reputable consultant, and be knowledgeable that the claim can be financed during preparation or at time of filing.

Let’s move on to point # 2- Clients ask, is it really that simple to finance a SR&ED tax credit. There is only one answer, which is of course yes. You should treat your SRED tax credit financing just as any other basic financing. Because this area of Canadian business financing is somewhat of a boutique are you should ensure you are working with a credible, trusted, and experienced advisor in this area.

Let’s cover some of the very simple key basics around the financing of your claim. Most firms are eligible, under the program itself, to receive anywhere from 20-50% of your expenses in the R&D area. Your SRED claim will ultimately have a final value, which is made up of the federal and provincial portions combined. Let’s assume its 200,000.00 as an example. You and your accountant have filed your year end financials, and included a SRED claim of 200k. What happens now if you want to finance that claim. The reality is that you simply have to fill out a standard business financing application – just as if you were borrowing for any other matter. In our case the ‘collateral ‘, if we can call it that, it’s the SRED claim.

Important to note hear that you are not incurring debt or creating a ‘ loan ‘ on the SRED – Your balance sheet stays intact, you are simply ‘ monetizing ‘ the SRED claim in order to generate working capital and cash flow now. Generally you receive approximately 70% of the claim as an advance, with the 30% held back and payable to yourself in full when you final claim is audited, approved, and that cheque from the government is ‘in the mail ‘! The financing feels itself, associated with the tax credit financing are deducted from that final 30% holdback. You can generally create a SRED loan for a period of a minimum of 60 days, but most SRED financing generally last from 3-12 months, depending on the size of your claim, its eligibility with CRA, and whether you are a first time filer.

Solutions Your Best Business Financing Bet?

Your worst business nightmare has just come true – you got the order and contract! Now what though? How can Canadian business survive financing adversity when your firm is unable to traditionally finance large new orders and ongoing growth?

The answer is P O factoring and the ability to access inventory financing lenders when you need them! Let’s look at real world examples of how our clients achieve business financing success, getting the type of financing need to acquire new orders and the products to fulfill them.

Here’s your best solution – call your banker and let him know you need immediate bulge financing that quadruples your current financing requirements, because you have to satisfy new large orders. Ok… we’ll give you time to pick yourself up off the chair and stop laughing.

Seriously though…we all know that the majority of small and medium sized corporations in Canada can’t access the business credit they need to solve the dilemma of acquiring and financing inventory to fulfill customer demand.

So is all lost – definitely not. You can access purchase order financing through independent finance firms in Canada – you just need to get some assistance in navigating the minefield of whom, how, where, and when.

Large new orders challenge your ability to satisfy them based on how your company is financed. That’s why P O factoring is a probably solution. It’s a transaction solution that can be one time or ongoing, allowing you to finance purchase orders for large or sudden sales opportunities. Funds are used to finance the cost of buying or manufacturing inventory until you can generate product and invoice your clients.

Are inventory financing lenders the perfect solution for every firm. No financing ever is, but more often than not it will get you the cash flow and working capital you need.

P O factoring is a very stand alone and defined process. Let’s examine how it works and how you can take advantage of it.

The key aspects of such a financing are a clean defined purchase order from your customer who must be a credit worthy type customer. P O Factoring can be done with your Canadian customers, U.S. customers, or foreign customers.

PO financing has your supplier being paid in advance for the product you need. The inventory and receivable that comes out of that transaction are collateralized by the finance firm. When your invoice is generated the invoice is financed, thereby clearing the transaction. So you have essentially had your inventory paid for, billed your product, and when your customer pays, the transaction is closed.

P O factoring and inventory financing in Canada is a more expensive form of financing. You need to demonstrate that you have solid gross margins that will absorb an additional 2-3% per month of financing cost. If your cost structure allows you to do that and you have good marketable product and good orders you’re a perfect candidate for p o factoring from inventory financing lenders in Canada.

Don’t want to navigate that maze by yourself? Speak to a trusted, credible and experienced Canadian business financing advisor who can ensure you maximize the benefits of this growing and more popular business credit financing model.

 

Purchase Order Financing Tips

Your worst business nightmare just occurred. You got the order/contract! Now what?!

Purchase order financing is a great tool for firms that have unusual purchase order and contract sales financing needs but are potentially unable to access traditional financing via banks or their own capital resources within their firm. How does trade finance P O financing work, does your firm qualify, what are the costs, and how does it work? Great questions, now let’s explore some answers!

Typically Canadian firms looking for this type of financing are distributors, manufacturers, or perhaps wholesalers. A variety of industries in Canada have access to this type of financing, but those certainly tend to be the typical firms needing assistance.

Your need for purchase order financing arises out of what we call the classic working capital gap. What do we mean by that? It’s a case of your suppliers requiring payment either up front or within 30 days, with your firm unable to generate those funds for payment and therefore unable to fill large purchase order and contracts in your favor. Your supplier is asking your for payment in advance or 30 days, and you wont receive payment for at least 60-90 days, perhaps more depending on your build cycle, etc.

Naturally you don’t want to turn down orders or lose competitive market position.

The obvious solution for low cost large amounts of funds are Canadian chartered banks, but our observation is that many firms simply cant satisfy the banks requirements for this type of financing to occur. If your firm is growing, profitable, has a clean balance sheet and strong historical cash flows and history you of course have a solid chance of meeting bank requirements, however that typically is not the case, certainly in the amount of clients we talk to who are looking for alternatives to their growth challenge!

When you access p o financing you can have comfort that your suppliers will be paid, and at the same time you generally have access to all the funds you need. Typical purchase order financing applications take anywhere from 2-4 weeks to complete and involve basic financial due diligence on your firms ability to fulfill the order, who your customer is (they must be credit worthy), and your proper supplier sources must be identified and vetted. It’s as simple as that.

So what are the basic pre requisites for a solid P.O. Financing deal? Naturally your company must be in possession of a contract or order that is not cancelable by your client. The P O finance firm arranges to pay your suppliers directly, that alleviates all you cash flow and working capital concerns. The transaction is completed when you ship the goods and your receivables are generated on the sale. It is at this time the purchase order finance firm expects to be paid, and this is traditionally handled by your firms monetizing of its receivable via a bank or factoring facility. Factoring facilities are great partners to the P O financing strategy, because use of them guarantees payment to your P O firm.

Let’s cover off a couple tips and secrets around the cost of purchase order financing – It generally is in the 2-3% per month range in Canada, and that means you have to have solid gross profit margins in order to be able to sustain the finance charges. But let’s be honest, let’s say your firm has been doing 750k of revenue for the last couple years and you finally get the large order from a major customer for 1 Million dollars. Wouldn’t you give up 2-3 % of your profit margin in order to make one sale which is the equivalent of your entire year’s business? We think you should positively consider that! Clearly the higher cost of this type of financing covers off the complexity and risk that the P O finance firm takes in paying for goods, waiting to get paid, and having the belief that your firm will fulfill the contract order.

It has been our observation with certain clients that your successful completion of a purchase order finance deal typically significantly enhances your relationship with your major suppliers and of course customers, that’s a secret benefit that is intangible but invaluable at the same time.

Is P O financing for everyone. Maybe not. Could it be possibly the solution to major working capital needs if your business is growing and can’t be financed traditionally – we certainly think so? Speak to a trusted, credible and experienced purchase order finance expert to explore your options.

Zoom in the Fast Track of E-Financial Business

We love to have a solid finance back up at the sometimes it turns a headache to manage those finance affairs. I thank people who come forward to help us with online finance management solutions! Are you one of such helpful men? If so, my article is going to tell you how choosing one of the best finance website templates to give your financial business a boom!
There are two major factors when you want to develop a website for your online finance business. One is choosing a template shop and then finding one of the best finance web templates from the templates available in a template shop. There are some matters which help to find a good template shop and select one of the best finance website templates. I am here pointing you some features of finance web templates and how to know a template shop as best template shop.

  • A cool design in color application is must for finance website templates. Money matters are serious affairs so simple yet elegant color increases soothing effect in the visitors’ mind.
  • The first sight falls on the header of a site so it has to be attractive. The header portion of the finance website templates needs to keep provision for showing off the purpose of the site. It is like grabbing the opportunity at first sight.
  • A visitor will come to get your services. In the finance web templates the focus will have to be always on the services. So the service portion has to get maximized notice.
  • It is found that visitors want some live news. In the finance web templates there should be always a panel about keeping live report about finance markets. It will help to compare and understand your finance solutions against present market.
  • Anytime or every time a visitor lands on a site, wants to know what is special! Finance website templates need to keep a space to show the special finance services from the service providers.
  • With the space for other related and valuable finance content keep a block for finance success stories. In the finance web templates the place for successful finance related stories increases the chances for investment.
  • People like to keep them updated. So a direct like for accepting newsletter services has some importance. In the finance website templates there may be a place for subscribing newsletters. This part will let the service provider chance to remain in touch with the visitors who subscribe to the service.
  • Last but not the least is quick solution and quick support panel. In the finance web templates there has to be a panel for quick contact as it lets visitors chance to get finance solution fast. People are coming to get solution let them find support fast.

In the above points I have tried to show you what should be the standard features in finance website templates or the finance web templates. Other features like programming support to open source and hard core development, SEO friendliness, affordability are the primary factors for finance web templates. Now to find all these qualities in finance website templates you have to find out a template shop. But you have to search a template shop that emphasizes on all the above qualities in finance web templates. And of course you should look for a template shop that cares to provide affordable templates.

Who’s Financing Inventory and Using Purchase Order Finance

It’s time. We’re talking about purchase order finance in Canada, how P O finance works, and how financing inventory and contracts under those purchase orders really works in Canada. And yes, as we said, its time… to get creative with your financing challenges, and we’ll demonstrate how.

And as a starter, being second never really counts, so Canadian business needs to be aware that your competitors are utilizing creative financing and inventory options for the growth and sales and profits, so why shouldn’t your firm?

Canadian business owners and financial managers know that you can have all the new orders and contracts in the world, but if you can’t finance them properly then you’re generally fighting a losing battle to your competitors.

The reason purchase order financing is rising in popularity generally stems from the fact that traditional financing via Canadian banks for inventory and purchase orders is exceptionally, in our opinion, difficult to finance. Where the banks say no is where purchase order financing begins!

It’s important for us to clarify to clients that P O finance is a general concept that might in fact include the financing of the order or contract, the inventory that might be required to fulfill the contract, and the receivable that is generated out of that sale. So it’s clearly an all encompassing strategy.

The additional beauty of P O finance is simply that it gets creative, unlike many traditional types of financing that are routine and formulaic.

It’s all about sitting down with your P O financing partner and discussing how unique your particular needs are. Typically when we sit down with clients this type of financing revolves around the requirements of the supplier, as well as your firm’s customer, and how both of these requirements can be met with timelines and financial guidelines that make sense for all parties.

The key elements of a successful P O finance transaction are a solid non cancelable order, a qualified customer from a credit worth perspective, and specific identification around who pays who and when. It’s as simple as that.

So how does all this work, asks our clients.Lets keep it simple so we can clearly demonstrate the power of this type of financing. Your firm receives an order. The P O financing firm pays your supplier via a cash or letter of credit – with your firm then receiving the goods and fulfilling the order and contract. The P O finance firm takes title to the rights in the purchase order, the inventory they have purchased on your behalf, and the receivable that is generated out of the sale. It’s as simple as that. When you customer pays per the terms of your contract with them the transaction is closed and the purchase order finance firm is paid in full, less their financing charge which is typically in the 2.5-3% per month range in Canada.

In certain cases financing inventory can be arranged purely on a separate basis, but as we have noted, the total sale cycle often relies on the order, the inventory and the receivable being collateralized to make this financing work.

Alternative Financing for Wholesale Produce Distributors

Equipment Financing/Leasing

One avenue is equipment financing/leasing. Equipment lessors help small and medium size businesses obtain equipment financing and equipment leasing when it is not available to them through their local community bank.

The goal for a distributor of wholesale produce is to find a leasing company that can help with all of their financing needs. Some financiers look at companies with good credit while some look at companies with bad credit. Some financiers look strictly at companies with very high revenue (10 million or more). Other financiers focus on small ticket transaction with equipment costs below $100,000.

Financiers can finance equipment costing as low as 1000.00 and up to 1 million. Businesses should look for competitive lease rates and shop for equipment lines of credit, sale-leasebacks & credit application programs. Take the opportunity to get a lease quote the next time you’re in the market.

Merchant Cash Advance

It is not very typical of wholesale distributors of produce to accept debit or credit from their merchants even though it is an option. However, their merchants need money to buy the produce. Merchants can do merchant cash advances to buy your produce, which will increase your sales.

Factoring/Accounts Receivable Financing & Purchase Order Financing

One thing is certain when it comes to factoring or purchase order financing for wholesale distributors of produce: The simpler the transaction is the better because PACA comes into play. Each individual deal is looked at on a case-by-case basis.

Is PACA a Problem? Answer: The process has to be unraveled to the grower.

Factors and P.O. financers do not lend on inventory. Let’s assume that a distributor of produce is selling to a couple local supermarkets. The accounts receivable usually turns very quickly because produce is a perishable item. However, it depends on where the produce distributor is actually sourcing. If the sourcing is done with a larger distributor there probably won’t be an issue for accounts receivable financing and/or purchase order financing. However, if the sourcing is done through the growers directly, the financing has to be done more carefully.

An even better scenario is when a value-add is involved. Example: Somebody is buying green, red and yellow bell peppers from a variety of growers. They’re packaging these items up and then selling them as packaged items. Sometimes that value added process of packaging it, bulking it and then selling it will be enough for the factor or P.O. financer to look at favorably. The distributor has provided enough value-add or altered the product enough where PACA does not necessarily apply.

Another example might be a distributor of produce taking the product and cutting it up and then packaging it and then distributing it. There could be potential here because the distributor could be selling the product to large supermarket chains – so in other words the debtors could very well be very good. How they source the product will have an impact and what they do with the product after they source it will have an impact. This is the part that the factor or P.O. financer will never know until they look at the deal and this is why individual cases are touch and go.

What can be done under a purchase order program?

P.O. financers like to finance finished goods being dropped shipped to an end customer. They are better at providing financing when there is a single customer and a single supplier.

Let’s say a produce distributor has a bunch of orders and sometimes there are problems financing the product. The P.O. Financer will want someone who has a big order (at least $50,000.00 or more) from a major supermarket. The P.O. financer will want to hear something like this from the produce distributor: ” I buy all the product I need from one grower all at once that I can have hauled over to the supermarket and I don’t ever touch the product. I am not going to take it into my warehouse and I am not going to do anything to it like wash it or package it. The only thing I do is to obtain the order from the supermarket and I place the order with my grower and my grower drop ships it over to the supermarket. “

This is the ideal scenario for a P.O. financer. There is one supplier and one buyer and the distributor never touches the inventory. It is an automatic deal killer (for P.O. financing and not factoring) when the distributor touches the inventory. The P.O. financer will have paid the grower for the goods so the P.O. financer knows for sure the grower got paid and then the invoice is created. When this happens the P.O. financer might do the factoring as well or there might be another lender in place (either another factor or an asset-based lender). P.O. financing always comes with an exit strategy and it is always another lender or the company that did the P.O. financing who can then come in and factor the receivables.

The exit strategy is simple: When the goods are delivered the invoice is created and then someone has to pay back the purchase order facility. It is a little easier when the same company does the P.O. financing and the factoring because an inter-creditor agreement does not have to be made.

Sometimes P.O. financing can’t be done but factoring can be.

Let’s say the distributor buys from different growers and is carrying a bunch of different products. The distributor is going to warehouse it and deliver it based on the need for their clients. This would be ineligible for P.O. financing but not for factoring (P.O. Finance companies never want to finance goods that are going to be placed into their warehouse to build up inventory). The factor will consider that the distributor is buying the goods from different growers. Factors know that if growers don’t get paid it is like a mechanics lien for a contractor. A lien can be put on the receivable all the way up to the end buyer so anyone caught in the middle does not have any rights or claims.

The idea is to make sure that the suppliers are being paid because PACA was created to protect the farmers/growers in the United States. Further, if the supplier is not the end grower then the financer will not have any way to know if the end grower gets paid.

Example: A fresh fruit distributor is buying a big inventory. Some of the inventory is converted into fruit cups/cocktails. They’re cutting up and packaging the fruit as fruit juice and family packs and selling the product to a large supermarket. In other words they have almost altered the product completely. Factoring can be considered for this type of scenario. The product has been altered but it is still fresh fruit and the distributor has provided a value-add.

Sources of Business Finance

Sources of business finance can be studied under the following heads:

(1) Short Term Finance:

Short-term finance is needed to fulfill the current needs of business. The current needs may include payment of taxes, salaries or wages, repair expenses, payment to creditor etc. The need for short term finance arises because sales revenues and purchase payments are not perfectly same at all the time. Sometimes sales can be low as compared to purchases. Further sales may be on credit while purchases are on cash. So short term finance is needed to match these disequilibrium.

Sources of short term finance are as follows:

(i) Bank Overdraft: Bank overdraft is very widely used source of business finance. Under this client can draw certain sum of money over and above his original account balance. Thus it is easier for the businessman to meet short term unexpected expenses.

(ii) Bill Discounting: Bills of exchange can be discounted at the banks. This provides cash to the holder of the bill which can be used to finance immediate needs.

(iii) Advances from Customers: Advances are primarily demanded and received for the confirmation of orders However, these are also used as source of financing the operations necessary to execute the job order.

(iv) Installment Purchases: Purchasing on installment gives more time to make payments. The deferred payments are used as a source of financing small expenses which are to be paid immediately.

(v) Bill of Lading: Bill of lading and other export and import documents are used as a guarantee to take loan from banks and that loan amount can be used as finance for a short time period.

(vi) Financial Institutions: Different financial institutions also help businessmen to get out of financial difficulties by providing short-term loans. Certain co-operative societies can arrange short term financial assistance for businessmen.

(vii) Trade Credit: It is the usual practice of the businessmen to buy raw material, store and spares on credit. Such transactions result in increasing accounts payable of the business which are to be paid after a certain time period. Goods are sold on cash and payment is made after 30, 60, or 90 days. This allows some freedom to businessmen in meeting financial difficulties.

(2) Medium Term Finance:

This finance is required to meet the medium term (1-5 years) requirements of the business. Such finances are basically required for the balancing, modernization and replacement of machinery and plant. These are also needed for re-engineering of the organization. They aid the management in completing medium term capital projects within planned time. Following are the sources of medium term finance:

(i) Commercial Banks: Commercial banks are the major source of medium term finance. They provide loans for different time-period against appropriate securities. At the termination of terms the loan can be re-negotiated, if required.

(ii) Hire Purchase: Hire purchase means buying on installments. It allows the business house to have the required goods with payments to be made in future in agreed installment. Needless to say that some interest is always charged on outstanding amount.

(iii) Financial Institutions: Several financial institutions such as SME Bank, Industrial Development Bank, etc., also provide medium and long-term finances. Besides providing finance they also provide technical and managerial assistance on different matters.

(iv) Debentures and TFCs: Debentures and TFCs (Terms Finance Certificates) are also used as a source of medium term finances. Debentures is an acknowledgement of loan from the company. It can be of any duration as agreed among the parties. The debenture holder enjoys return at a fixed rate of interest. Under Islamic mode of financing debentures has been replaced by TFCs.

(v) Insurance Companies: Insurance companies have a large pool of funds contributed by their policy holders. Insurance companies grant loans and make investments out of this pool. Such loans are the source of medium term financing for various businesses.

Alternative Sources of Business Growth Finance

Talk to any business owner or read the business section of any newspaper and you’re likely to come across stories of struggles to access sufficient finance to grow or maintain their business. But we are beginning to witness a change in how business owners access finance with many now actively seeking out alternative sources.

A survey carried out by the UK’s Forum of Private Business found that 26% of businesses were hunting out alternative financial products, with 21% seeking them outside of the traditional main High Street lenders. In fact, in another survey undertaken by the Federation of Small Businesses, it was discovered that only 35% of respondents used a traditional overdraft facility in 2011.

So, if banks are continually reluctant to lend to all but the lowest risk businesses, how can the remainder of the UK’s business population finance growth? Here are some of the increasingly popular alternative sources of finance to investigate.

Better Management of Working Capital

This may appear to be an odd source of finance but very often businesses are sitting on undiscovered cash reserves which can be used to finance growth. A report issued by Deloitte in 2011 revealed that the UK’s largest businesses were sitting on £60 billion of unproductive working capital. Inefficiencies in how working capital (debtors, stock and creditors) is handled can unnecessarily tie up your cash. Cash can be unlocked and released back in to the system thereby allowing self-financed growth plans by taking a close look at credit procedures, how credit terms are granted and how outstanding payments are chased.

Ensuring that stock is kept at an optimum level via better inventory management is another area where cash can be released to support and finance growth. Take a good look at your inventory management process and identify areas where cash is trapped.

Good management of working capital is not just about better control of debtors and stock, it is also about maximising the terms given by creditors. Are you too eager to maintain a first class relationship with your suppliers by paying well before the due date? You can positively impact your cash position by taking full advantage of terms offered by your suppliers. Have you fully leveraged your position by seeking an extensive of terms from say 30 days to 45 days?

Being more efficient in how working capital is managed can release sufficient funds to self-finance growth plans.

Personal Resources

With traditional avenues of funding being more difficult to access business owners are now looking to their personal resources to fund growth. Whether it be drawing on cash savings, using personal credit cards or taking additional mortgages on residential properties, such sources are an instant solution. A survey by the Federation of Small Businesses found that 33% of respondents had utilised their savings to fund growth. As well as being more immediately accessible using personal resources is often a cheaper source of finance.

Family and Friends

Sometimes referred to as the three F’s – family, friends and fools – this can appear to be a less stressful way of raising finance. In some ways it can but it can also be a journey fraught with danger. Tapping into their personal network business owners source finance by either seeking a loan and offering to pay an interest rate higher than that on offer on a High Street savings account, or offering a slice of equity in the business in return for investment.

Raising finance in this way can be relatively easy because the request and fulfilment is very much based on personal trust. Typically a Business Plan would be presented highlighting both the investment opportunity and the risks but at the end of the day success is down to the depth of the relationship and level of trust.

The danger in raising funds this way is that the nature of the relationship will change from that of a personal nature to a business transaction. Failure to regularly pay as per agreed terms, or even total failure to pay, can irreparably damage the relationship so tread with care.

Asset Finance

The Asset Finance industry is based on the concept of either preserving cash or speeding up access to it. Asset finance, which consists of invoice discounting, factoring and funding of asset purchases, has been available as a source of finance for many years, yet it’s only now gaining more recognition. Figures released by the Asset Based Finance Association, a trade association representing the industry, show that to the third quarter of 2011 the amount financed by the Association’s members increased by 9% compared to the same period in the previous year. Whilst the increase may not seem significant it is against the backdrop of a fall in traditional bank lending.

In a world where ‘cash is king’ asset financiers help preserve cash by financing the purchase of assets such as vehicles, machinery and equipment. Because the financier is looking to the underlying asset as security there is usually no requirement for additional collateral. According to the Asset Finance and Leasing Association one in three UK businesses that have external finance now utilise asset finance.

Asset financiers can help speed up the flow of cash within a business by allowing quicker access to cash tied up in the debtor book. An invoice discounting and factoring facility gives businesses the ability to immediately access up to 80% of an invoice instead of waiting for the agreed credit terms to run their course. Such finance facilities will speed up the velocity of cash within the business thereby allowing the business to fund a high rate of growth.

New players such as Market Invoice are entering the market to allow businesses to raise finance against selected invoices. Tapping into high net worth individuals and funds Market Invoice acts as an auction house with funders ‘bidding’ to advance against certain invoices.

Crowfunding and Peer-to-Peer

A relatively new phenomenon is the concept of raising finance by tapping into the power of the crowd. The historically low rates of interest payable on savings have led to depositors seeking out new ways to increase their returns. With business owners struggling to raise the funding they need it’s only natural that a market would be created to bring these two parties together.

CrowdCube entered the market in 2010 to match private investors seeking to be Dragons with those businesses looking to raise capital. Once a business passes the initial review stage their proposal is posted on the site and potential investors indicate the level of investment they wish to make with the minimum amount being as low as £10.

Businesses looking for a more traditional loan should consider Funding Circle. Established in 2010 Funding Circle also matches individual investors looking for a better return with those businesses seeking additional finance. Businesses can apply for funding between £5,000 and £250,000 for a period of 1, 3 or 5 years. As a minimum the business has to have submitted two years Accounts with Companies House and be assessed in order to arrive at a risk rating which guides potential investors.

As the crowd sourcing concept matures we are likely to see more players enter this market to capitalise on the need for better investor returns and easier access to business finance.

What You Should Know About Dealer Finance

Car finance has become big business. A huge number of new and used car buyers in the UK are making their vehicle purchase on finance of some sort. It might be in the form of a bank loan, finance from the dealership, leasing, credit card, the trusty ‘Bank of Mum & Dad’, or myriad other forms of finance, but relatively few people actually buy a car with their own cash anymore.

A generation ago, a private car buyer with, say, £8,000 cash to spend would usually have bought a car up to the value of £8,000. Today, that same £8,000 is more likely to be used as a deposit on a car which could be worth many tens of thousands, followed by up to five years of monthly payments.

With various manufacturers and dealers claiming that anywhere between 40% and 87% of car purchases are today being made on finance of some sort, it is not surprising that there are lots of people jumping on the car finance bandwagon to profit from buyers’ desires to have the newest, flashiest car available within their monthly cashflow limits.

The appeal of financing a car is very straightforward; you can buy a car which costs a lot more than you can afford up-front, but can (hopefully) manage in small monthly chunks of cash over a period of time. The problem with car finance is that many buyers don’t realise that they usually end up paying far more than the face value of the car, and they don’t read the fine print of car finance agreements to understand the implications of what they’re signing up for.

For clarification, this author is neither pro- or anti-finance when buying a car. What you must be wary of, however, are the full implications of financing a car – not just when you buy the car, but over the full term of the finance and even afterwards. The industry is heavily regulated in the UK, but a regulator can’t make you read documents carefully or force you to make prudent car finance decisions.

Financing through the dealership

For many people, financing the car through the dealership where you are buying the car is very convenient. There are also often national offers and programs which can make financing the car through the dealer an attractive option.

This blog will focus on the two main types of car finance offered by car dealers for private car buyers: the Hire Purchase (HP) and the Personal Contract Purchase (PCP), with a brief mention of a third, the Lease Purchase (LP). Leasing contracts will be discussed in another blog coming soon.

What is a Hire Purchase?

An HP is quite like a mortgage on your house; you pay a deposit up-front and then pay the rest off over an agreed period (usually 18-60 months). Once you have made your final payment, the car is officially yours. This is the way that car finance has operated for many years, but is now starting to lose favour against the PCP option below.

There are several benefits to a Hire Purchase. It is simple to understand (deposit plus a number of fixed monthly payments), and the buyer can choose the deposit and the term (number of payments) to suit their needs. You can choose a term of up to five years (60 months), which is longer than most other finance options. You can usually cancel the agreement at any time if your circumstances change without massive penalties (although the amount owing may be more than your car is worth early on in the agreement term). Usually you will end up paying less in total with an HP than a PCP if you plan to keep the car after the finance is paid off.

The main disadvantage of an HP compared to a PCP is higher monthly payments, meaning the value of the car you can usually afford is less.

An HP is usually best for buyers who; plan to keep their cars for a long time (ie – longer than the finance term), have a large deposit, or want a simple car finance plan with no sting in the tail at the end of the agreement.

What is a Personal Contract Purchase?

A PCP is often given other names by manufacturer finance companies (eg – BMW Select, Volkswagen Solutions, Toyota Access, etc.), and is very popular but more complicated than an HP. Most new car finance offers advertised these days are PCPs, and usually a dealer will try and push you towards a PCP over an HP because it is more likely to be better for them.

Like the HP above, you pay a deposit and have monthly payments over a term. However, the monthly payments are lower and/or the term is shorter (usually a max. of 48 months), because you are not paying off the whole car. At the end of the term, there is still a large chunk of the finance unpaid. This is usually called a GMFV (Guaranteed Minimum Future Value). The car finance company guarantees that, within certain conditions, the car will be worth at least as much as the remaining finance owed. This gives you three options:

1) Give the car back. You won’t get any money back, but you won’t have to pay out the remainder. This means that you have effectively been renting the car for the whole time.

2) Pay out the remaining amount owed (the GMFV) and keep the car. Given that this amount could be many thousands of pounds, it is not usually a viable option for most people (which is why they were financing the car in the first place), which usually leads to…

3) Part-exchange the car for a new (or newer) one. The dealer will assess your car’s value and take care of the finance payout. If your car is worth more than the GMFV, you can use the difference (equity) as a deposit on your next car.

The PCP is best suited for people who want a new or near-new car and fully intend to change it at the end of the agreement (or possibly even sooner). For a private buyer, it usually works out cheaper than a lease or contract hire finance product. You are not tied into going back to the same manufacturer or dealership for your next car, as any dealer can pay out the finance for your car and conclude the agreement on your behalf. It is also good for buyers who want a more expensive car with a lower cashflow than is usually possible with an HP.

The disadvantage of a PCP is that it tends to lock you into a cycle of changing your car every few years to avoid a large payout at the end of the agreement (the GMFV). Borrowing money to pay out the GMFV and keep the car usually gives you a monthly payment that is very little cheaper than starting again on a new PCP with a new car, so it nearly always sways the owner into replacing it with another car. For this reason, manufacturers and dealers love PCPs because it keeps you coming back every 3 years rather than keeping your car for 5-10 years!

Alternative Financing Vs. Venture Capital

There are several potential financing options available to cash-strapped businesses that need a healthy dose of working capital. A bank loan or line of credit is often the first option that owners think of – and for businesses that qualify, this may be the best option.

In today’s uncertain business, economic and regulatory environment, qualifying for a bank loan can be difficult – especially for start-up companies and those that have experienced any type of financial difficulty. Sometimes, owners of businesses that don’t qualify for a bank loan decide that seeking venture capital or bringing on equity investors are other viable options.

But are they really? While there are some potential benefits to bringing venture capital and so-called “angel” investors into your business, there are drawbacks as well. Unfortunately, owners sometimes don’t think about these drawbacks until the ink has dried on a contract with a venture capitalist or angel investor – and it’s too late to back out of the deal.

Different Types of Financing

One problem with bringing in equity investors to help provide a working capital boost is that working capital and equity are really two different types of financing.

Working capital – or the money that is used to pay business expenses incurred during the time lag until cash from sales (or accounts receivable) is collected – is short-term in nature, so it should be financed via a short-term financing tool. Equity, however, should generally be used to finance rapid growth, business expansion, acquisitions or the purchase of long-term assets, which are defined as assets that are repaid over more than one 12-month business cycle.

But the biggest drawback to bringing equity investors into your business is a potential loss of control. When you sell equity (or shares) in your business to venture capitalists or angels, you are giving up a percentage of ownership in your business, and you may be doing so at an inopportune time. With this dilution of ownership most often comes a loss of control over some or all of the most important business decisions that must be made.

Sometimes, owners are enticed to sell equity by the fact that there is little (if any) out-of-pocket expense. Unlike debt financing, you don’t usually pay interest with equity financing. The equity investor gains its return via the ownership stake gained in your business. But the long-term “cost” of selling equity is always much higher than the short-term cost of debt, in terms of both actual cash cost as well as soft costs like the loss of control and stewardship of your company and the potential future value of the ownership shares that are sold.

Alternative Financing Solutions

But what if your business needs working capital and you don’t qualify for a bank loan or line of credit? Alternative financing solutions are often appropriate for injecting working capital into businesses in this situation. Three of the most common types of alternative financing used by such businesses are:

1. Full-Service Factoring – Businesses sell outstanding accounts receivable on an ongoing basis to a commercial finance (or factoring) company at a discount. The factoring company then manages the receivable until it is paid. Factoring is a well-established and accepted method of temporary alternative finance that is especially well-suited for rapidly growing companies and those with customer concentrations.

2. Accounts Receivable (A/R) Financing – A/R financing is an ideal solution for companies that are not yet bankable but have a stable financial condition and a more diverse customer base. Here, the business provides details on all accounts receivable and pledges those assets as collateral. The proceeds of those receivables are sent to a lockbox while the finance company calculates a borrowing base to determine the amount the company can borrow. When the borrower needs money, it makes an advance request and the finance company advances money using a percentage of the accounts receivable.

3. Asset-Based Lending (ABL) – This is a credit facility secured by all of a company’s assets, which may include A/R, equipment and inventory. Unlike with factoring, the business continues to manage and collect its own receivables and submits collateral reports on an ongoing basis to the finance company, which will review and periodically audit the reports.