How Asset-Based Loans From Commercial Finance Companies Differ From Traditional Bank Loans

When it comes to the different types of business loans available in the marketplace, owners and entrepreneurs can be forgiven if they sometimes get a little confused. Borrowing money for your company isn’t as simple as just walking into a bank and saying you need a small business loan.

What will be the purpose of the loan? How and when will the loan be repaid? And what kind of collateral can be pledged to support the loan? These are just a few of the questions that lenders will ask in order to determine the potential creditworthiness of a business and the best type of loan for its situation.

Different types of business financing are offered by different lenders and structured to meet different financing needs. Understanding the main types of business loans will go a long way toward helping you decide the best place you should start your search for financing.

Banks vs. Asset-Based Lenders

A bank is usually the first place business owners go when they need to borrow money. After all, that’s mainly what banks do – loan money and provide other financial products and services like checking and savings accounts and merchant and treasury management services.

But not all businesses will qualify for a bank loan or line of credit. In particular, banks are hesitant to lend to new start-up companies that don’t have a history of profitability, to companies that are experiencing rapid growth, and to companies that may have experienced a loss in the recent past. Where can businesses like these turn to get the financing they need? There are several options, including borrowing money from family members and friends, selling equity to venture capitalists, obtaining mezzanine financing, or obtaining an asset-based loan.

Borrowing from family and friends is usually fraught with potential problems and complications, and has the potential to significantly damage close friendships and relationships. And the raising of venture capital or mezzanine financing can be time-consuming and expensive. Also, both of these options involve giving up equity in your company and perhaps even a controlling interest. Sometimes this equity can be substantial, which can end up being very costly in the long run.

Asset-based lending (or ABL), however, is often an attractive financing alternative for companies that don’t qualify for a traditional bank loan or line of credit. To understand why, you need to understand the main differences between bank loans and ABL – their different structures and the different ways banks and asset-based lenders look at business lending.

Cash Flow vs. Balance Sheet Lending

Banks lend money based on cash flow, looking primarily at a business’ income statement to determine if it can generate sufficient cash flow in the future to service the debt. In this way, banks lend primarily based on what a business has done financially in the past, using this to gauge what it can realistically be expected to do in the future. It’s what we call “looking in the rearview mirror.”

In contrast, commercial finance asset-based lenders look at a business’ balance sheet and assets – primarily, its accounts receivable and inventory. They lend money based on the liquidity of the inventory and quality of the receivables, carefully evaluating the profile of the company’s debtors and their respective concentration levels. ABL lenders will also look to the future to see what the potential impact is to accounts receivable from projected sales. We call this “looking out the windshield.”

An example helps illustrate the difference: Suppose ABC Company has just landed a $12 million contract that will pay out in equal installments over the next year, resulting in $1 million of revenue per month. It will take 12 months for the full contract amount to show up on the company’s income statement and for a bank to recognize it as cash flow available to service debt. However, an asset-based lender would view this as receivables sitting on the balance sheet and consider lending against them, depending on the creditworthiness of the debtor company.

In this scenario, a bank might lend on the margin generated from the contract. At a 10 percent margin, for example, a bank lending at 3x margin might loan the business $300,000. Because it looks at the trailing cash flow stream, an asset-based lender could potentially loan the business much more money – perhaps up to 80 percent of the receivables, or $800,000.

The other main difference between bank loans and ABL is how banks and commercial finance asset-based lenders view the business’ assets. Banks usually only lend to businesses that can pledge hard assets as collateral – mainly real estate and equipment – hence, banks are sometimes referred to as “dirt lenders.” They prefer these assets because they are easier to control, monitor and identify. Commercial finance asset-based lenders, on the other hand, specialize in lending against assets with high velocity like inventory and accounts receivable. They are able to do so because they have the systems, knowledge, credit appetite and controls in place to monitor these assets.

Apples and Oranges

As you can see, traditional bank lending and asset-based lending are really two different animals that are structured, underwritten and priced in totally different ways. Therefore, comparing banks and asset-based lenders is kind of like comparing apples and oranges.

Unfortunately, many business owners (and even some bankers) don’t understand these key differences between bank loans and ABL. They try to compare them on an apples-to-apples basis, and wonder especially why ABL is so much “more expensive” than bank loans. The cost of ABL is higher than the cost of a bank loan due to the higher degree of risk involved in ABL and the fact that asset-based lenders have invested heavily in the systems and expertise required to monitor accounts receivable and manage collateral.

For businesses that do not qualify for a traditional bank loan, the relevant comparison isn’t between ABL and a bank loan. Rather, it’s between ABL and one of the other financing options – friends and family, venture capital or mezzanine financing. Or, it might be between ABL and foregoing the opportunity.

For example, suppose XYZ Company has an opportunity for a $3 million sale, but it needs to borrow $1 million in order to fulfill the contract. The margin on the contract is 30 percent, resulting in a $900,000 profit. The company doesn’t qualify for a bank line of credit in this amount, but it can obtain an asset-based loan at a total cost of $200,000.

However, the owner tells his sales manager that he thinks the ABL is too expensive. “Expensive compared to what?” the sales manager asks him. “We can’t get a bank loan, so the alternative to ABL is not landing the contract. Are you saying it’s not worth paying $200,000 in order to earn $900,000?” In this instance, saying “no” to ABL would effectively cost the business $700,000 in profit.

Look at ABL in a Different Light

If you have shied away from pursuing an asset-based loan from a commercial finance company in the past because you thought it was too expensive, it’s time to look at ABL in a different light. If you can obtain a traditional bank loan or line of credit, then you should probably go ahead and get it. But if you can’t, make sure you compare ABL to your true alternatives.

When viewed in this light, an asset-based loan often becomes a very smart and cost-effective financing option.

Top 10 iPhone Apps for Personal Finance

There are many applications for the iPhone that give users the ability to make personal financing easier than ever. While solving one pain-in-the-neck issue, it creates another – which app to buy? Because of the popularity of these headache-reducing apps, there is an overwhelming amount of options available in the App Store. Deciphering which app is the best available is almost impossible. Add in the fact that so many aren’t free, and choosing the right one the first time around could save time and money. Before downloading anything, it’s important to know if the functionality of the app (money transferring, budget tracking, etc.) fits your needs. Provided is a list of ten apps including the price and primary function that can make tracking personal finances much easier.

Mint – There are tons of finance apps available that focus on budget tracking. Few are as popular as Mint, which allows users to manage multiple financial accounts from one simple user interface. With user-friendly features and no price tag, there is little wonder why this app has so many users.

Loan Shark – Dealing with loans is never a pleasant experience. The Loan Shark app helps ease some of the pain endured while handling loans without having to pay anything. It simplifies the process of calculating loans by a great deal and also has many features including a full amortization table, a one-tap extra payment option, and a “favorites” feature.

MoneyStrands – This app is another free option for tracking your budget. With features like alerts, analysis, security, and support, it is one to compare to Mint.

PageOnce – Planning long-term investments can be easy to put off. This app also assists in budgeting your current finances like MoneyStrands and Mint, but really excels in planning for the future. It gives you the ability to look at your 401k, IRA, and stocks all at the same time, while not costing you a cent.

Toshl – Toshl incorporates cloud computing into every day financing with this free app. The cloud feature allows users to automatically sync their mobile movements online. Additionally, there is a premium upgrade ($19.95/year) that allows users to export to Excel, PDF, or Google Docs among other features.

MoneyBook – MoneyBook is another addition to the long line of apps for budgeting. This one, however, comes at a price. Promoted as “Finance with Flair,” the app costs $2.99 and is loaded with features to make financing easier.

SplashMoney – At $4.99, what differentiates this from the free apps is its ability to connect wirelessly to most online bank accounts.

Square – The price is right for this free app that makes credit card purchases simpler than ever. By signing up, Square, Inc. will provide a credit card reader that can be attached directly to the iPhone. Once connected, users have the ability to swipe all major credit cards with only a 2.75% charge per swipe.

PayPal – Ebay-owned PayPal provides users a secure, simple way to send or receive money wirelessly.

General Banking – The bulk of major banks have available apps for free. These provide easy-access to any and all bank accounts in a secure fashion.

This is only a small example of the many, many apps that can help make financing easier. With the continuous release of new applications and updates to old ones, banking from your iPhone will continue to simplify; finding the app for doing so may not. This list is a great place to start looking.

For more information about iPhone application development, visit Magenic Technologies who have been providing innovative custom software development to meet unique business challenges for some of the most recognized companies and organizations in the nation.

Considerations for the Best Accounts Receivable Financing Company

Your inability to choose the best accounts receivable factoring company for your business can significantly impact your profitability in the long term. The key to success with accounts receivable financing is to select the right business partner to work with.

Take your time, shop around and benchmark the various companies against each other to pick the best partner for you. While you shop around, remember that accounts receivable factoring cost and rates care vary widely between one factoring company to another, but there is a lot more to choosing the right accounts receivable factoring company than just the cost.

Your screening procedures are going to be critical in determining how successful you can execute accounts receivable factoring.

Longevity and Industry Experience

The longer the accounts receivable financing company has been in business, the more information you can find on them.

It is usually better to go with a company that is well established, has stood the test of time and one that has expertise in the specific industry your business is in.

With the amount of complexity and nuances involved in various industries, teaming up with a partner who understands what you do will usually turn out better for your business.

Ask the accounts receivable factoring company you are evaluating if they have a client similar to you in their portfolio.

If you are a retail business, ask if they have other retail clients. Industry experience is a key factor in determining your success with factoring.

Conducting Due Diligence

When conducting due diligence, or your independent research, consider contacting the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and see whether the company has any complaints, the nature of the complaints, and what it did to resolve them. Contact your local Attorney General’s office to learn whether there are complaints against the company.

Ask the accounts receivable financing company for a copy of the notification they send to your customers and read it for tone and reasonability of language. It is also not uncommon to ask to tune into the collection calls they make to your customers.

Customer Service Considerations

Customer service is the back bone of any business. Take your time to evaluate the customer service of the financing company you are considering.

Can you only reach them from 9 to 5, or are they available outside normal business hours? This is especially important if your business operates outside normal working hours.

Understand how their customer service style can impact your business’ customers. In other words, is your reputation at risk because of say aggressive collection tactics?

Do not risk losing your customers. Your customers deliver revenues, which is what you factor. Without the customer, you won’t have anything to factor!

Reference Checks

The last, but certainly not the least factor in evaluating the best accounts receivable factoring company to work with is conducting reference checks. Do not be shy to ask for references.

A good company will not hesitate to provide you with businesses that they work with either.

Some questions to consider asking references are the following:

What is the customer service like? How long do they generally take to respond?
How long do you wait for initial funding? How long does it take to receive the remaining?
Have your customers complained about the factoring company?
What was the application process like? How was your experience?
Do you receive the adequate attention and support you require?
How long does it take to get the funding request approved?
Any surprises in forms of additional fees, costs, terms and conditions?
Would you use the company again if you had to do it over again?

Conduct reference checks is probably the single best determinant that will tell you whether you should work with the factoring company. There are many accounts receivable financing companies out there today. If one doesn’t work out, move on to the next.

What Stands Behind Capital One Credit Cards and Savings Products?

In the times since the global financial crisis, it has increasingly become a concern as to what the backing of the financial institution that issues your credit card or holds your saving account is. There are a number of laws which regulate the financial system and try to ensure that customers can rely on banks to honour their obligations which can be a particular concern in relation to savings products. Title 12 of the United States Code in part 325 specifies a number of ‘capital adequacy requirements’ in relation to all banks. The aim of these requirements is to force banks to adequately provision of a crisis and ensure that they will remain solvent even if there is a large crisis. Banks must report periodically on their arrangements to show regulators that they are meeting the capital adequacy requirements.

Capital One at the moment is, when measured by asset pool, the 8th largest bank in the United States with balance sheet assets of approximately USD$286bn in 2012. Amongst other distinctions, the company is also one of the largest customers of the United States postal service. Its head office is in Fairfax County Virginia and the current chairman, CEO and President of the company is Richard Fairbank. It is one of the fastest growing banks in American history having been founded in 1988 by the current CEO. Like many banks in the American financial system, Capital One was the recipient of a bail out during the sub prime mortgage crisis of 2007 when it received $3.56bn from the United States Government in exchange for 3,555,199 shares in the company. By the end of 2009, the company had managed to buy the government out of the business.

As well as being involved in credit cards, Capital One has an Auto Finance Division which is a substantial part of the company. An entity known as Capital One 360 is also now in existence having formerly been known as ING Direct on the idea that a bank could perform retail services entirely on the basis of an online model. This division of the company has no branches and only maintains a physical presence in the form of call centres and online processing maintenance facilities. The online bank model seems to achieved some success given that the lower overheads from rent and staff result in lower costs to consumers and therefore a better outcome.

One of the notable characteristic of Capital One is that it appears to have retained an ability to ride out the periodic financial storms which emerge in the world of consumer credit. It has grown consistently throughout good and bad times in consumer finance and continues to grow based on the analysis of its most recent financial data. This history of growth and the ability to ride out financial storms appears to bode well for the credit and savings products of Capital One.

The Best Free Android Finance Apps

Obviously many people will be skeptical as to how good free apps actually are, with many consumers actually purposefully not downloading free apps due to fears that they will crash or being infected with various ways of stealing your money. However these fears are totally unfounded and without evidence so do not let this put you off. Now to the apps:

PayPal

If you have been on the internet at some point then you will have undoubtedly heard of PayPal. The service facilitates payments between people via a simple email address, avoiding the complexities usually associated with bank transfers and the like. The PayPal Android app allows users to manage their PayPal account just as they would through the official website. The app is totally secure and allows you to make purchases or deposits also amongst other activities on the move, a very useful addition to the marketplace.

Quote Pro

Quote Pro is also an incredibly useful app, used by many on a daily basis it has fast become one of the most downloaded in its range. Not only can you obtain extremely detailed and accurate information about the range of stocks you have an interest in, but you can also keep an eye on your portfolio of stocks and shares.

Tip Calculator by TradeFields

Tip Calculator is perhaps one of the most imaginative apps I have personally seen on the app marketplace. It is incredibly useful for an aspect you will have probably have struggled with every time you’ve been out for a meal, the tip. Not only will the app inform you of the total tip you should be leaving behind, but will also divide the total tip amount between the number of people at the dinner, saving much embarrassment, delays and napkin calculations!

Currency Converter

How many times have you been in a foreign country or at the airport and have been wondering how much you will actually get in return for your dollars? Numerous times in all probability. The currency converter provided by Pocketools will enable you to be provided with an accurate, up to date and independent currency exchange valuation allowing you to shop around to find the best exchange rate. Not only does this app provide you with the current exchange rate, it will also give you data on the currency of your choice over the last 5 year period through the use of many easy to read graphs.

Mileage

This is without doubt one of the best apps I have personally seen. With the rising prices of gas which look set to continue for the foreseeable future it is a great way of ensuring that you are driving as economically as possible and therefore saving as much gas as possible. I haven’t an idea about how it works but it does, the interface is also extremely slick, simple to navigate through and to understand.

Finance

Finance, whilst the name of the app may not excite you or conjure up ideas that this app is going to change the world it certainly fills a gap in the market which needed a simple app. It’s similar to Google search in many aspects, it provides a very basic user interface, but one that is incredibly effective and performs its job excellently. If you already use Google Finance or are considering starting to use it then this app is vital, it synchronizes everything meaning it’s like being on your main PC.

Financisto

Financisto is another great money manager. The ability to create long and short term budgets for holidays, short breaks or just a simple shopping trip is a real plus point for this app and one which has seen it rocket in terms of popularity. In addition to this the app has the capability to check your recurring payments amongst many other essential financial activities; this has left many users of the marketplace wondering why there is no charge.