Belfast Telegraph

Cash-strapped firms opting for invoice finance

An invoice finance firm has said it has seen a “surge in demand” for its finance products.

Close Invoice and Asset Finance said small to medium sized firms had options for securing sustainable finance if they were turned down for bank funding.

Managing director Harry Parkinson said: “Since opening our doors in Belfast in 2007, our lending figures have gone through the roof, in no small part due to the lack of funding forthcoming from the banks.

“We receive daily enquiries from frustrated and anxious companies across the country who feel very let down by their banks — the same banks to whom |they have remained loyal over many years.

“The good news is that invoice and asset finance is stepping in to help fill the void created by the banks and helping to re-introduce a certain level of confidence to the small to medium sized enterprise (SME) market.”

Invoice finance is an umbrella term for finance in which a debtor book is used as security.

Figures from the Asset Based Finance Association show that the UK invoice finance sector has grown by £114bn in total client sales between 2000 and 2009 from £77bn to £191bn.

Last year, nearly 46,000 businesses in the UK and Ireland used invoice finance to fund their business and improve their cash flow with the industry advancing in excess of some £15bn.

A recent report from the Department for Business and Skills, ‘Financing a Private Sector Recovery’, also pointed to invoice finance as playing a “crucial role in securing access to working capital during the recovery for many businesses”.

Mr Parkinson said: “It’s clear that asset-based lending is becoming a mainstream form of funding and we’re encouraged that increasing numbers of businesses are opening their eyes to the benefits it can bring.

“While it’s understandably easy for SMEs to become bogged down in the perpetual cloud of negativity and depressing economists’ forecasts, lending is happening and capital is available.

“It might not be in the traditional form but times have changed and we need to move with them.”

He added: “Forward-looking businesses are coming to understand that more flexible, modern options exist and that they no longer have to rely on bank loans and overdrafts.”

Close Invoice and Asset Finance has 24 staff in Ireland and 400 clients across the manufacturing, distribution, services, transport, retail and printing sectors.

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