When reviewing the first half of 2009 I started by looking back at comments I made at the beginning of the year in connection with my expectations for the factoring market as well as general comments.
My comment that “I guess that with the banks’ reluctance to lend money and the general state of the economy it is only to be expected that enquiries for factoring and invoice discounting would be running at high levels in 2009” proved to be miles out and whilst Factoring Solutions did receive a record number of enquiries in January, that didn’t last long and the enquiry levels drifted downwards to it’s current very poor level.
It would seem that rather than using the banks’ reluctance to lend as a reason for turning to factoring and invoice discounting the SME sector has decided that in these uncertain times they don’t want to commit themselves to a factoring agreement with it’s associated costs if the opportunities for expansion won’t be there.
Talking to other brokers it would seem that most are fairly quiet with the exception of those owned and operated by insolvency practitioners who are busy with pre packs of existing factoring clients that have failed or other companies that need factoring to provide working capital for the restart.
The only other sector of the broking community that has done well in the first six months of the year are those that have built up strong relationships with the bank owned factors by dint of introducing companies to their own bank in return for a fat fee. Now that the banks have decided to move the goalposts they have found themselves with a large number of clients that no longer fit their new criteria and those clients who find themselves surplus to requirements have been handed over to the banks’ pet brokers to find them new homes.
Highly lucrative work if you are of that mindset but here at Factoring Solutions we run an ethical broking service where the needs of the customer are paramount.
If the ABFA stats are to be believed (and I have my doubts on that score) the figures for the next quarter will be interesting as the number of clients will have gone down again as more and more fall by the wayside.
It would seem that those factoring companies that were a little choosier in the past are the ones that are suffering least at the moment as whilst their books are still contracting the rate is much slower than average. It is the factoring companies that used to operate on the basis of “If it moves sign it up and if it doesn’t move still sign it up” that are suffering more at the moment with much larger numbers of client failures with their consequential impact on staff time as well as bad debts.
Most factoring companies are now looking much closer at new business propositions with such things as single debtor deals much more difficult to place and those with concentration problems also being studied more carefully too.