Factoring and termination fees. ABFA response

According to an article in today’s Sunday Telegraph Kate Sharp the chief executive of the Asset Based Finance Association (ABFA) has claimed that they intend to bring in a new code of conduct in January whilst indicating that the association still haven’t a clue what is going on under it’s nose by it’s members by questioning the extent of the problem that everyone seems to know about except the ABFA

Unfortunately the new code of conduct will be heavily watered down from what many people wish to see as they will not be outlawing the sharing of termination fees with brokers claiming laughably that it’s “against competition law”.

I suspect that the real reason could be found under the list of affiliate members / sponsors of the ABFA on their site who comprise many of the brokers who’s noses are firmly in the factoring trough and are quite happy with the status quo

The Small Business Finance Directory

Small Business Finance Directory has been launched in an orgy of self promotion with almost every online magazine carrying stories about this joint venture between National Association of Commercial Finance Brokers (NACFB) and Finance and Leasing Association (FLA) and the Asset Based Finance Association (ABFA)

It is supposedly “a brand new tool aimed at promoting access to vital funding” and it’s brief is to “help around 60,000 businesses find suitable commercial finance in its first year”

Having had a look at the directory it seems to be little more than a listing of all members of the three organizations with one or two non members added for good measure. Certainly in my own field most of the major factoring brokers that don’t happen to be members of NACFB aren’t listed and far from being designed to help business access suitable funding it seems designed more to make sure that they only find suitable funding via Association members.

ABFA statistics for the third quarter of 2011 released today

As usual there are a great deal of statistics that actually say very little as the 251 clients with annual turnovers in excess of £100m per annum obscure the wood quite well.

The overall number of companies using either factoring or invoice discounting has grown by the magnificent sum of 61 since the beginning of the year to 41,572 but lending to those companies has increased by £1 billion in the same period to £16 billion. Interestingly 62% of that increase in funding has come from the £10m to £50m turnover sector and 29% of the increase in the £50m to £100m turnover band.

Whilst total facility limits are shown as well as the total of advances made there is no analysis of how this is split into turnover bands and my guess is that rather than SME’s not taking their full available funding as ABFA like to claim it is actually a few of the £100m turnoevr companies that are skewing the statistics

Another misleading press release from the ABFA

Another quarter has passed and right on cue the ABFA have released the latest statistics supplied by their factoring company members along with their usual misleading press release.

The ABFA claim that “UK and Irish firms are increasingly opting for this type of finance over other forms of lending” yet according to their own statistics 48,172 companies used factoring or invoice discounting at the end of 2008 – a figure which has fallen to 41,486 by 30th June 2011

They further claim that “The latest figures also show invoice finance clients are again choosing not to access all of the funds available to them. Total available funds this quarter were £22.2bn, with £6.5bn of finance available but not drawn.”

Nobody who I have spoken to believes that the majority of clients are “choosing not to access all of the funds available to them” but the truth is more likely to be that the figures are rendered completely meaningless by the 496 companies with annual turnovers in excess of £50m who represent 1.2% of clients by number but one third of factored turnover.

The reality is that as far as the SME sector is concerned the factoring companies are pedaling hard to stand still and have been for a few years since the start of the recession

Interesting factoring statistics from the ABFA

The Asset Based Finance Association (ABFA) has recently released statistics relating to the factoring and invoice discounting market for the first quarter of 2011 which show some growth in the overall marketplace but it’s the accompanying press release that I find most interesting.

Firstly there is the claim that “Invoice finance clients are again choosing not to drawdown all the lending available to them, showing that clients have sufficient funds for their business needs. The total funding available was £21.1bn yet only £14.8bn was utilised by clients, meaning there were £6.3bn of funds still available.”

I am picturing hundreds of factoring clients ringing up their client manager saying “No thanks I don’t need any money this week” I don’t suppose that the truth has anything to do with the many restrictions that the factoring companies impose to make sure that their clients never get anywhere near the notional funding limits.

The second claim that caught my eye was that “The average turnover of clients using invoice finance has increased from this time last year, even though total client numbers have dropped slightly following the recession. The average annual turnover per client a year ago was £4.36m, whereas this has grown to £5.27m in Q1 2011, a 21% growth in just a year.” A further statistic that wasn’t mentioned but has a huge bearing is that the number of clients with sales in excess of £100m per annum has grown from 205 in the quarter ended 31st March 2010 to 220 in the same quarter this year and that extra 15 clients who’s combined turnover will presumably total at least £1.5 billion will be enough to render the rest of the statistics completely meaningless.

Alastair Campbell would be justifiably proud of that press release 🙂