What is invoice discounting and how does it work?
Invoice discounting is a means of increasing working capital by “selling” a company’s outstanding sales invoices to an invoice finance company as and when they are raised in return for an immediate payment of a pre-agreed percentage of the invoice value.
Maintaining a positive cash flow is vital to the success of any business and invoice discounting is just one finance solution available to businesses providing you meet the lender’s criteria. By borrowing the amount of money owed to you from your customers instantly instead of having to wait for the invoices to be paid, this ensures that you can keep on track of running your business day to day instead of being hindered by low or inconsistent cash flow.
Unlike factoring where the factoring companies also maintain the sales ledger and carries out the credit control, with invoice discounting the company continues to maintain it’s own sales ledger and handles it’s own credit control.
With invoice discounting, also called ‘confidential invoice discounting’), the service is completely confidential.
Additionally, it is confidential as there is no notification on the invoice that the debt has been assigned to the finance company so the customer is unaware of the arrangement.
In practice the discounting company will advance up to 85% of the invoice value (including VAT) as and when the invoices are raised with the balance of 15% being paid over when the customer has paid the debt. This service is provide by invoice discounting brokers.
Who would this service benefit?
This solution is suitable for most companies that sell a product or provide a service and is more effective for companies who’s major assets are the trade debts owing to them as banks are no longer interested in offering overdraft facilities to this type of company, especially if the company is newly established.
Most business that sell on trade credit terms and would like to improve their cash flow can benefit from this service. Maybe you have too many invoices that clients haven’t paid, or are simply waiting on one or two large invoices to be paid.
If you want your business to grow a ready supply of working capital is essential and a cash injection can be highly beneficial, giving you enough operational capital and ensuring you stay on top of your own business payments. Failure to do so means that you could end up turning work down due to lack of funds and could also mean that late or unpaid bills generate interest, increasing the money you owe.
Cash flow problems remain one of the main reasons for small businesses failing in the UK. This problem can be solved by contacting an invoice discounting broker.
How does invoice discounting work?
The company will raise an invoice as per usual, send it to their customer and then depending on which finance company is being used and how they operate, the company will either upload the details of the invoice to the discounter’s accounting system or submit a schedule of invoices raised to the discounter or even submit copies of each invoice to the discounter.
The company will then be eligible to receive the pre-agreed percentage of the invoices, usually after 24 hours.
The company will maintain their own sales ledger and carry out their own credit control but the customer will pay into a trust account rather than the company’s existing bank account and on receipt of the payment the company is entitled to the unadvanced balance of the invoice less the charges.
In practice when a company sets up an invoice discounting facility they will “sell” all outstanding invoices to the invoice finance provider.
As an example, a company turning over £500,000 pa whose customers pay in an average of 50 days will have outstanding debts of about £82,000
If the arrangement provides for an initial payment of 80% it is likely that the discounting company will make available an initial payment of up to £65,000 against these outstanding debts with the balance of £17,000 less the discounter’s charges being made available as and when the customer pays.
The company raises an invoice and sends it to their customer.
The company submits the invoice to the invoice finance company and signs the invoice financing agreement.
The invoice finance provider advances 80-90% of the invoice face value to the company.
The client sends the invoice payments into the company account.
When the payments are received, the company gets the reminder of the invoice amount less the charges.
How much does invoice discounting cost?
There are generally two costs involved with the first being a service charge or discounting fee and that is highly variable between each individual company and also between each factoring company but the range of 0.25% to 1% of turnover would cover most companies whose sales turnover is in the range of £250,000 to £2m per annum.
The second cost involved is the discount charge or cost of funds used and that tends to be in the range of 2% to 4% per annum over bank base rate.
Advantages of Invoice Discounting
Improve Cash Flow
Cash Flow is essential for the health of your company. If you have clients who take a long time to pay, you can choose invoice discounting to get the money faster and that way maintain a healthy cash flow.
As soon as an invoice is issued, it takes only 24 to 48 hours in general for the business to receive the liquid cash from the invoice discounting company.
As opposed to invoice factoring, with invoice discounting the business doesn’t have to inform the client about the fact that they use an invoice discounting provider.
Check out some additional reading from our blog about invoice discounting:
Factoring Solutions specializes in factoring broker and invoice discounting broker and is one of the UK’s leading independent specialist.
As the factoring and invoice discounting industries have grown, so too has the number of companies offering sub-par service and deals.
Factoring Solutions is an independent broker, meaning that we are not affiliated with any factoring company. Therefore, you can rest assured that we always have your best interests at heart and we will seek the very best invoice discount facility for you and your business that benefits you the most.
For an informal chat, please contact us on 01827 707680 without any obligation whatsoever to discuss the various options open to you safe in the knowledge that we will only ever introduce you to one of the few discounters that offer high service levels and as we receive an introductory fee from whichever funder we place you with, we will never charge you any fees at all.