Invoice Finance: A Complete Guide
Invoice financing for small business is on the increase in Australia as SMEs become increasingly aware of alternative forms of finance. Lenders, more often than not, prefer some form of security in the lending process too. If you’re an Australian SME looking to understand more about invoice financing then we have you covered here.
We’ll discuss how invoice finance differs slightly to small businesses invoice factoring, invoice financing products that are available in the market and the invoice financing companies who provide them, as well as the types of small businesses who are a good fit for invoice financing.
What is Invoice Financing?
Invoice finance is a way for businesses to borrow money based on the invoices due to their business. Invoice Financing helps businesses improve their cash flow and increases the length of time they hold onto cash. It can allow companies to pay suppliers and staff earlier than they could if they were to wait for the money to be paid by their customers. Invoice Finance typically works best for B2B companies with payment terms of 30, 60 or 90 day durations. If you operate a B2C business which sees money exchanged at the point of sale, such as a retail shop or restaurant, then invoice finance may not be an appropriate solution for you. Alternatives such as a merchant cash advance may be a better fit.
What Types of Invoice Finance Are There?
In some solutions businesses sell their invoices as assets to their lender and in return receive a fixed percentage of the full value of the invoice at the point of sale. In other solutions there are options to borrow a varying amount of the invoice or borrow against specific invoices. Invoice finance may also be referred to as debtor finance.
Invoice factoring, also sometimes known as accounts receivable factoring, sees businesses sell their accounts receivable as assets to their lending provider. Businesses will receive a percentage of the total value of their invoices from the lender at the point of sale with the lender then collecting the full value of the invoice when payment is due.
The big difference of invoice factoring companies compared to invoice financing companies is it sees the whole accounts receivable function outsourced to the invoice factoring company so they will chase up customer payments and manage the receivables process on behalf of the business, freeing up time for business owners to focus on other matters. Invoice factoring in Australia is the most common form of SME invoice finance.
Typical invoice factoring rates are 2% for the first 30 days of lending with an additional 0.5% for every further 10 day period that invoices remain unpaid. Around 80-85% of the invoice is usually paid upfront with the remainder released to the seller once their buyer has paid for the invoice (less the factoring rates).
If we look at the example above, based on a $40,000 invoice, then we can see in scenario A the business would receive 80% of the value of the invoice upfront ($32,000) and a total of $39,200 (minus the 2% factoring charge from the provider). If we look at scenario B then the business would receive $32,000 upfront and only $39,000 overall (minus a 2.5% factoring charge due to an additional 10 day period without the invoice being paid). Note the percentage works similar to interest on a loan but is usually a fixed fee based on the total value of the invoice which can then incur additional fees for longer payment terms.
Spot Factoring is a method for businesses to receive finance by selling specific invoices to their lending provider. As businesses will only assign individual invoices when they require finance they typically won’t have quite as an established relationship with their spot factoring provider.
Just like with invoice factoring the provider will likely want to follow up with customers for payment so it could cause confusion should a customer sometimes be contacted by the seller for payment and sometimes by the spot factoring company.
Rather than selling an invoice as an asset, invoice discounting will see businesses borrowing money from a lender against the value of an invoice. Invoice discounting allows businesses to borrow part of the value of their invoices and continue with the payment collection process themselves. Invoice discounting can thus often be arranged on a confidential basis so customers aren’t even aware it’s in place.
Invoice Financing Australia – What Companies Are There?
Through Marketland’s ‘Debtor Finance’ Solution businesses can opt for either single or multi debtor solutions. Once a debtor is approved businesses can submit invoices for financing from this debtor for a period of up to 60 days for value between $100k to $4m.
If you are looking specifically for invoice factoring companies then Fifo capital is certainly one to consider. Fifo Capital offers single and multiple invoice factoring emphasising that once your invoice finance facility is set up you can usually receive funding for your invoices within 4 hours. Funding is between $5k and $500k with no real estate security required against the facility.
Skippr are one of the most specialised invoice financing companies out there and offer the most complete set of invoice finance solutions in the Australian market, including; invoice factoring, invoice discounting and single invoice finance. With a maximum credit limit of $500k. Most specialist finance providers outside of the big 4 banks only offer invoice factoring as a whole so the variety of solutions is a big differentiator. As a USP, Skippr also differentiate themselves from traditional invoice finance providers by integrating with many of the leading accounting software platforms including Xero and Quickbooks. Meaning invoices can automatically be shared with Skippr, removing cumbersome manual upload of invoices that could be prone to errors.
Westpac Invoice Finance
Westpac invoice finance offers a self service online portal for businesses to upload their invoices, allowing up to 85% of the value of the invoice to be paid by Westpac at the point of sale. Crucially, Westpac invoice finance may not be as relevant as a small business invoice factoring facility as lending will only be facilitated at sums of $500k and above. There could also be an arrangement fee to establish the facility in addition to the ongoing fees that Westpac receive each time they finance an invoice.
Geographical Coverage of Invoice Finance & Invoice Factoring Australia
The best online invoice finance and invoice factoring companies for small businesses are readily available throughout Australia. Whether you require invoice factoring in Sydney or invoice financing in Adelaide all of the specialist lenders we review hold an Australian Credit License with the ASIC to offer Invoice Financing across Australia. All providers also offer an online platform for invoices to be submitted and approved for finance, making it far less reliant to find a local provider. Locally however, Marketland holds its office in Sydney, Fifo Capital in Melbourne and Skippr holds offices in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
Invoice Financing for Small Business – Is It Relevant For Me?
Since new companies, such as Skippr and Markeltand, have entered the Australian lending market, they’ve brought lending facilities that have traditionally been available to large businesses to SMEs too. Hence why we see the difference in minimum lending amounts in comparison to Westpac. Skippr in particular provide many different forms of invoice financing for small businesses.
Generally, the following criteria should be met in order to be eligible for a small business invoice finance facility:
- You’ve operated for at least 6 months as a registered Australian business
- Your business has outstanding accounts receivable with other businesses
- You raise invoices only once your service is complete
- You and your customers have a good credit history
If you are looking for a recommended way to discover small business financing for your specific situation, please consider Become.co – an Australian marketplace which works with 20 leading small business lenders.
Read Our Become Business Funding Review
Many of the invoice factoring services we review on our site also offer unsecured business loans too. These can be great for accelerating growth and investing in new areas for the business. Invoice Financing however serves a different purpose. Organically, businesses will not receive any additional funding to what would have been due to the business from its debtors anyway. Invoice financing simply allows businesses to improve their working capital by receiving funds due from their customers sooner.
Invoice Finance is becoming increasingly popular for small businesses in Australia. If you think invoice financing sounds like a good fit for your business, then you should be able to receive a better interest rate than through an unsecured loan. The unpaid invoices act as security so the invoice financing companies are likely to grant a more favourable rate . Plus you’re using your invoices for security as opposed to capital goods or your cash in bank.