Invoice finance

Using unpaid invoices as security, to gain quick access to a percentage of their value.

Invoice finance is when the lender uses an unpaid invoice as security for funding, giving you quick access to a percentage of that invoice’s value quickly, sometimes within 24 hours.

The amount of money a provider will lend you is based on its own risk criteria. But this method of funding lets you access finance for cashflow or investment purposes, using an often-untapped asset on your balance sheet.

There are two main types of invoice finance:

Factoring

This allows businesses to generate money against unpaid invoices. The finance provider will lend you up to 90% of the value of your invoices. It will also manage your sales ledger and collect payment for your invoices direct from your customers. It will then deduct the costs of the factoring service, before paying you the remaining balance.

Invoice discounting

This works in a similar way to factoring, but your business keeps control of customer payments. You pay a fee and a discount charge (like interest) if you use the funding, much like a standard overdraft.

There are lots of different invoice finance providers in the UK, ranging from specialist invoice finance companies to banks and other financial institutions.

Are you an established business with a trading history?

A lender will ask you to prove that you issue invoices to customers, as assurance that they will get paid.

Are you looking for less than £1m?

There’s no minimum threshold for invoice finance. But if you need more than £1m, other finance solutions may be more suitable for your business.

Do your customers pay invoices within 30 to 90 days of you issuing them?

If it takes longer than 90 days for customers to pay your invoices, invoice finance providers may not approve your application. This is because they would have to wait too long to receive the money they’ve lent you. It’s worth speaking to a few lenders as each will have different terms.

Do you have detailed and accurate financial statements covering your trading history?

The lender needs to detail your trading history clearly and accurately, so will review your financial statements.

Do your customers have a good record of paying bills?

Invoice finance providers will also review your customers and their paying habits, and look for those who pay invoices on time and have a strong credit rating.

Do you provide goods or services to other businesses?

Invoice finance is normally only available to businesses that trade with others (known as business-to-business, or B2B).

A lender won’t necessarily turn you down if your customers don’t fall within this bracket, but may offer you less finance as a result.

  • Capitalise on an often unused asset on your balance sheet
  • Improve your cashflow
  • Access finance quickly
  • Flexible in terms of how you can spend the facility
  • You don’t have to give away equity

Potential to affect your credit report

Invoice finance providers will conduct credit checks when you apply for finance. These checks could have an impact on your credit report.

You're depending on your customers paying

Depending on your agreement, the invoice finance provider may hold you accountable if a customer fails to pay an invoice.

Fees

Invoice finance providers will make certain charges, depending on the service you require.

You can search for invoice finance providers online or alternatively, view invoice finance providers for the Recovery Loan Scheme (RLS)Link opens in a new window on the British Business Bank website.

Before you get going, use this checklist to help decide whether invoice finance is suitable for your business.

Other finance options

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Duration of finance 10 years +
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Time of finance IPO processes takes 10-12 weeks; but planning and negotiations can take 12-18 months
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