Cattles Invoice Finance shakes off it’s subprime branding

It may well have been a big surprise to many people but the press release sent out earlier this week announcing that Cattles is shaking off it’s rather downmarket image by rebranding as Absolute Invoice Finance will have come as no surprise to readers of this blog as we gave away their secret way back in April.

When writing the text for Factoring Solutions website ten years ago in 1999 I added the quip that “many companies using invoice finance to speed up cash flow still find their factor by looking in Yellow Pages – which is surely why there are so many factors beginning with the letter A” and it gives me great pleasure that the powers that be at Cattles have heeded my words 🙂

I doubt whether many people use Yellow Pages any more but there are obviously web directories that list factoring companies in alphabetical order so Absolute will jump up the queue with their name change and regain the position that they had when they used to be known as Argent Commercial Services.

I wonder if anyone will now consider changing their name to Aardvark Factors to get pole position

Cattles Invoice Finance sale announced at long last

The long running saga of the sale of Cattles Invoice Finance has at last been announced with the purchasor being the private equity house AnaCap Financial Partners LLP who have been lurking in the wings for quite a while.

Whilst the announcement is now “old news” it did come when I was away sunning myself in Cyprus and whilst I thought about writing something for the blog at the time the amount of effort required to research and write something via Blackberry was too much like hard work.

Having belatedly read the press release dated 10th August I was interested to read the comment attributed to Doug Crawford that “The invoice finance industry is enjoying unprecedented growth in the current financial climate………”

The statistics for the factoring industry issued by the ABFA for the last couple of quarters show that far from enjoying “unprecedented growth” the industry has seen a drop in value of sales factored as well as the number of clients availing themselves of the services but I now await with great interest the figures for the quarter ended 30th June (which should be available shortly) to see the official confirmation of this growth.

Business Money called me an anorak

One of my factoring buddies sent me the current edition of Business Money which to those that haven’t come across this august journal is a magazine apparently devoted to the factoring industry which says lots of nice things about all of the factoring companies and is funded by advertisements from them too. He seemed to be highly amused that the magazine had printed a dig at me 🙂

When skimming through it there were three paragraphs that caught my eye.

1) Business Money, over 16 years has always endeavoured to report hard commercial reality

2) The job of the media is to report facts, accompanied by comment given that the public cannot be sufficiently well-versed in every topic being reported on to place the news in context

3) The Cattles saga goes on, a situation calling for some sensitivity and not helped by one or two, who really do need to get out more, without their anoraks, and who seem to delight in creating as much anguish as they can for a great bunch of men and women who are just trying to do their job with something of a cloud over them.

The urban dictionary defines an “anorak” as someone “obsessively interested in a thing or topic that doesn’t seem to warrant such attention” so it would seem that because I have a problem with the fact that Cattles Invoice Finance are continuing to take on new staff and clients at a time when their parent company is struggling for survival I am an anorak that should get out more.

I’m quite sure that the friendship shown by Business Money towards Cattles Invoice Finance has nothing to do with the full page advert that appeared a few pages along in the same edition. 🙂

The Factoring Blog was set up partly because there is no media devoted to reporting “the hard commercial realities” within the factoring industry and there is much that needs to be said but unlike Business Money we can be objective because we don’t have to worry about biting the hand that feeds us.

Factoring Blog review of the first half of 2009 part two

Factoring charges in the past have been driven down and down as one or two of the major bank owned factors have tried to buy market share at any cost. The activities of an internet lead generator with an automated online pricing model hasn’t helped as any such thing must be price driven thus driving prices down even further and the factors have tried to redress this by looking at other ways of increasing revenue rather than affect their headline rates. To this end we have seen the introduction of facility commissions which is a percentage of the agreed facility and is addition to the factoring commission. At least one of the big bank owned factors is now incorporating renewal commissions too if the poor client wishes to renew his facility at the end of the year whilst the worst one of the lot has been sneaked in by one of the big boys who has stuck in a termination fee which becomes payable if the client wishes to terminate his facility whatever the reason whatever the time.

Wageroller and Smart Flow Finance have bitten the dust although there are rumours that Wageroller has resurfaced under a new name but the only factoring company to have succumbed in the first quarter of the year has been Challenge Finance.

I started off the year by announcing that GMAC had pulled down the shutters for new business but I had a meeting with one of their regional directors yesterday who told me that they were now in full steam ahead mode and with quite an innovative range of ABL products too.

Even in a fast changing world like the one we currently live in there are some things that never change. At the end of last year I announced that the parent company of Cattles Invoice Finance were about to sell the company and that would happen “any day now”. Six months down the line the supposed sale of this factoring company is still just round the corner as the parent gets further and further into the mire with it’s negotiatons with bankers unresolved, it’s accounts delayed as the auditors won’t sign them off and the shares suspended. Still I’m sure that a Cattles insider will be contacting me shortly to let me know that the sale will be happening “any day now” as has been happening at monthly intervals throughout 2009 so far. 🙂

The other enigma is Close Invoice Finance which at one time was a market leader in terms of client satisfaction but where the stories of ill treatment from unhappy clients just seem to keep on coming. This year to add to the confusion Close have closed the operating centres in Birmingham making a number of redundancies in the process in order to cut costs whilst at the same time employing an industry heavyweight on what must be a huge financial package to run the Northern operation, as well as buying a small factoring operation in Northern Ireland.

My predictions for the second half of 2009 are to expect much of the same. The market will still be tough to operate with the well run independents riding out the storm without too much damage to either their reputation or bottom line but I think that the recession coupled with the tough attitude taken by the credit insurance market will start to see big problems in the top end of the invoice discounting sector with companies turning over in excess of £50m failing and possibly resulting in significant bad debt losses for the banks operating those facilities.

Time will tell.


Cattles Invoice Finance are having a laugh now

I was checking my site ranking this morning as I’m sure we all do periodically when I spotted an unfamiliar name amongst the paid for Google Adsense adverts so clicking on I found that not only was it a website devoted to the services of Cattles Invoice Finance but I recalled seeing the site before and commenting on it’s rather deceiptful name.

This time I took more time out to read the webage and there was a section entitled “Simply fill in this short form to receive our 1 minute guide to factoring”

So far so good but a drop down list gave a list of options and you are supposed to select the option which is the most relevant. The options are:-

1) Cashflow Issues

2) Want To Grow?

3) Buying Our Company

4) Buying a Company

5) Want New factor

I know that Cattles Invoice Finance must be getting desperate by now but surely advertising for a buyer on their own website isn’t the answer 🙂