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Stephen Lim, CPA, CA
Henry Yan, CPA, CA

The Ascent Team
Suite 105- 3380 Maquinna Drive
Vancouver, BC
V5S 4C6, Canada
info@ascentteam.com
Tel. 604.291-0366
Fax. 604.291.0367
 

Factoring Your Business Receivables

Your business is currently having some cash flow problems. You have a business that usually carries a fairly large accounts receivable balance and was wondering if there was a way to tap into them without getting another loan. You've heard of "factoring" - could this be a good option for your business?

Depending on your company's situation, factoring could be a good fit. Since factoring is actually selling your accounts receivable, it can allow you greater control over your cash flow without incurring additional debt. But keep in mind that factoring is not cheap and can be difficult to obtain if you have a relatively low balance of accounts receivable.

Here's how it works: a factor buys your company's accounts receivable and gives you 50-80% of their face value upfront (the "advance rate"). The factor then collects your receivables, deducts their fee and gives you the remainder. Factoring fees typically run from 1% to over 5% of each transaction (the "discount rate") based upon a number of factors including total dollar amount and the number of days from receipt of invoices until payment on invoices.

Here are some of the pros and cons of factoring your receivables:

Pros

Immediate access to cash. Unlike getting a business loan, factoring allows you quick access to cash, usually 24 hours from submission of invoices once you have an account established. In addition, the account set up period typically takes no more than a week and does not require extensive paperwork as with a business loan.

No additional debt incurred. Your business' relationship with the factoring company is not as debtor/creditor since you are actually selling your receivables. There are no loan documents to complete or additional backup documentation such as tax returns, financial statements, business plans, or projections to provide.

Reduction of bad debt & elimination of collection process. With a nonrecourse agreement, once the factoring company purchases your business' invoices, it assumes all liability and expense as to collection of the invoiced amounts. Since they are buying all of your receivables - the good and the bad - your company's bad debt write-off should be greatly reduced.

Cons

High cost. Factoring is not cheap. Although paying 1%-5% of each invoice to have someone else take over the collection process seems a small price to pay, when you look at that amount amortized over a year, it is obviously much more expensive than traditional financing. In addition, when negotiating an agreement, make sure that all fees are disclosed upfront.

Potential damage to your business' reputation. Because you have put the collection process in the hands of another company, you lose a lot of control over how your customers are treated during the collection process. To reduce the chance that your company's reputation may be harmed by the actions of the factoring company, make sure that you do an extensive check into the background of the company and ask for referrals from existing clients.

The bottomline? Factoring can be a good, although costly, option for those businesses that need additional flexibility when it comes to their cash flow and/or do not want to (or cannot) incur additional debt.

Before you decide to try your hand at factoring your receivables, it's important that you carefully weigh the advantages and disadvantages as they relate to you and your business. For more information and guidance on factoring, please contact our office.


The information presented in this document is of a general nature only and should not be relied upon to replace professional advice. Before acting on this information, talk with a professional advisor as laws and regulations are constantly changing. Readers accept full responsibility; no document found here is a substitute for a consultation.

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