Monthly Archives: June 2017

Invoice Finance

What is invoice finance?

It is the sale of a company’s sales ledger for cash providing an ongoing source of cash as invoices are issued to customers by the company. The company might retain the collection of cash or transfer this and the associated credit risk, to the funder.

Some conventional IF facilities can impose numerous types of fees and charges, and require security and a commitment from the company to sell the its entire sales ledger to the finance company.Some companies offer a refreshing financial alternative, offering to buy just a single invoice and charging as few as just one fee and generally offering a more flexible funding alternative.

What is single invoice finance?

As its name suggests, it is the purchase of one invoice for cash from a company. The company does not need to sell any further invoices so single invoice finance can be used by companies to raise cash as they need it. Also, they might not need to provide security such as a debenture or a personal guarantee.

Single or multiple IF are effective tools for cash management because they liquidate illiquid assets i.e., they convert debtors into cash. The cash realised can be reinvested by the company in profitable projects or used to pay back expensive debt.

Some borrowers might argue that on an annualised basis, the cost of invoice finance is high compared to a conventional loan. That comparison is like comparing apples to oranges because the two financing instruments work differently. A loan is a continuous source of finance whereas single invoice finance is discrete – providing finance for up to 90 days or less. Annualisation of the cost of invoice finance is not therefore consistent with its use.

Though the interest rate on a loan might look relatively attractive, the cost of arranging and administering it must also be factored in, such as the arrangement, commitment, non-utilisation, and exit fees, plus servicing charges and legal costs of documentation. There might also be costs to pursue and recover bad debts, or to pay for credit protection. Invoice finance has its own arrangement and administration costs that might be more or less than a bank loan.

Invoice finance is therefore a credible alternative to a loan because:

  • it converts a company’s debtors into cash that may then be reinvested to potentially generate positive return for the company.
  • the company can transfer debtor credit risk.
  • it avoids using up a bank’s limited credit capacity for a company and
  • it diversifies the company’s sources of funds so reducing its reliance on the banking sector.
  • companies can use it to raise cash as needed
  • security might not be needed

Non-Convertible Debentures

A Debenture is a type of debt instrument that is not secured by physical assets or collateral by the issuing financial institution. Debentures are the highest common form of long-term loans that can be taken by a company. These loans are repayable at a fixed rate of interest and fixed duration.

Debentures are of two types: convertible and non-convertible.

Convertible Debentures are the ones that can be converted into equity shares of the issuing company after a specific period of time. These types of bonds are attractive to investors owing to the ability to convert, however, they offer a lower interest rate.

Non-Convertible Debentures:

This financial product cannot be converted into equity shares and once the maturity period comes to an end, the principal amount along with accumulated interest is paid to the debenture holder.

NCDs are also of two types: secured and unsecured. Secured redeemable non-convertible debentures are backed by the assets of the debenture issuing company and if the company defaults in payment, the investor can liquidate the assets to claim the payment.

Benefits of Non-Convertible Debentures

It offers a high rate of return and though they cannot be converted into equity shares at a later point of time, they can be traded on stock exchange. So, if one wants to liquidate the debenture, one can do so and get back the money which is not the case with bank fixed deposit. This is why non-convertible debentures come across as a smart investment idea and of late, people have been investing in them in larger numbers.

Risks Involved in Non-Convertible Debentures

They do not give one any ownership in the company like shares. Also, they do not give favorable returns during a recession if one wants to sell them before the maturity period. Last but not the least, the returns on NCDs are taxable and the debenture holders have to pay taxes according to the income tax bracket in which they fall. This applies in the case of a pre-maturity period sale as well.

Steps E-Invoicing

If you don’t know your process, you probably don’t know key metrics like your First Time Match Rate. This means you won’t know the degree to which e-invoicing might help you (and you may have problems in your process which need other solutions, as well).

And, you probably don’t know the true cost of your invoicing process, and therefore will not be able to put together a water-tight business case.

Step One is likely to take you 3 to 6 months, but by the end of it you’ll be clearer and more realistic when you make your business case.

Importantly, knowing your cost-per-transaction is essential for negotiating effectively with the provider you end up signing.

Step Two: Know the vision of the company:

Process change makes sense to stakeholders when it is contextualized against the overarching ambitions of the company.

This means it’s worth taking the time to understand where the company wants to be in 6, 12 or 24 months’ time, and you can extrapolate that intention back to how e-invoicing might accelerate or bolster the realization of that goal. Take the time to lift yourself from the ‘day to day’ and understand where the company is headed. (Ask lots of questions, and really listen to the answers.) Then you can:

  1. Understand and communicate the wider purpose of e-invoicing and position e-invoicing as a key enabler for realizing goals
  2. Use the language of the senior management to present e-invoicing back to them
  3. Move e-invoicing up the priority list

This endeavor requires planning, and an investment of time outside your day job, but it will pay off down the road, when your CFO and CPO and CTO (Chief Treasury Officer) see e-invoicing as their single point of failure.

Step Three: Get procurement on board early

This is easier for an organization where Finance and Procurement are already aligned, already share reporting lines and objectives, and operate as one team.

But in organizations where this ‘joined-upness’ doesn’t exist, it’s common for Finance to own the project, because they get the more immediate gains, and involve Procurement almost as an afterthought. This can kill the project on the spot.

This is largely because e-invoicing is a supplier-focused program, and even though Finance, or rather Accounts Payable, pays suppliers, they are actually owned by Procurement. This means suppliers will listen to Procurement regarding the e-invoicing project first, and finance second. So if procurement are not brought in, or are at all dismissive of e-invoicing, your suppliers will feel this mood, and drag their heels in signing up.

This is perhaps the key to getting e-invoicing right, and so easily overlooked as a small detail. It’s not. It will make – or catastrophically break – your project.

When working with Procurement, consider the following:

  • Drivers – why are we doing e-invoicing?
  • Scope – all suppliers, invoice types, AP transaction types, countries?
  • Solution scope – just e-invoicing or an end to end solution?
  • Message – mandatory or optional?
  • Quality of the database – will the comms ‘land on the right desk’?
  • Signatory – how senior will the signatories be? The CPO and the CFO? (Ideally, yes.)
  • Targets – are Finance and Procurement KPI’d on the same targets?
  • The non-compliant – who will respond to the suppliers that resist?
  • Who will own the project? Perhaps Finance and Procurement together?

Investing time in seeking out a partnership from Procurement early on is fundamental to a successful project.

Step Four: Give the project a name

You will likely find that the nameless projects stay in project status for a long time, and rarely move to operational or ‘go live’. This is not a coincidence.

By giving your e-invoicing project both a pre- and post- contract name, you:

  1. Give it an identity which helps people ‘get it’
  2. Create interest and curiosity (‘what is this Globe project everyone’s talking about?’)
  3. Avoid confusion because you’re all talking about the same thing
  4. Heighten engagement and inspire greater emotional attachment, especially, I find, if you stay away from the obvious like Globe, Probe, e-Procurement Project – all decent names, but how about something more fun, like names of characters from movies or fiction? Or having a competition (with a really good prize) to come up with the most creative name?

Step Five: Know what you’re shopping for

What do you want? Is it a best-of-breed e-invoicing solution? Is it e-invoicing with dynamic discounting? Is it e-invoicing with workflow and routing, or an e-procurement functionality for your upstream procurement process? Do you need it to be VAT compliant and language sensitive because you are rolling out across multiple countries? And do you need to use their onboarding capabilities? (This is always advisable.)

Knowing what you want, and then capturing these requirements in a document is key.

You will have:

  • Commercial and business requirements
  • Process requirements
  • Scope requirements (impacting the legal treatment and the languages supported)
  • IT requirements (but these are probably weighted lightly, as all e-invoicing solutions I know of are system agnostic)
  • Resource or/and timing requirements

Then make sure that the companies you invite to respond to the RFP all offer similar-ish services, so you are not comparing one solution type against another completely different solution type in order to make a decision.

Step Six: Determine the cost of delayed-implementation

Quantifying the cost of doing nothing – ‘continuing as per’, and having this as a daily, weekly, monthly and annual figure, will help drive a deadline.

It’s advisable to build this figure with the main stakeholders, so they all agree on it, and understand that, allowing the project to slip by a month is actually costing the company X.

Having the daily figure will help drive the pace of the project.

Step Seven: Follow the best practices of the provider

The provider you end up selecting will have likely rolled out 20 – 100 e-invoicing programs (if it is one of the bigger providers like Tungsten, Ariba, Taulia or Tradeshift). This means you will be benefiting from their experience, which is now structured, and documented.

Construction Bonds Establishing

This step has mostly been taken to provide a certain kind of protection against a very severe kind of event taking place that can cause a certain kind of hindrance or failure in the completion of the project, the reason behind it being the insolvency of the builders or the inefficiency of the job to meet ends with the specifications of the contract.

Usually you will notice the existence of three kinds of parties in a construction bond, namely they are the party that has a hand behind the building of the project, the eventual owners and then finally you have the surety company that has got the back of the bond.

As for the types, this kind of bond contains three types; let us have a look at the list:

• THE BID BONDS

In situations where as the expected honor and respect for the bid by the principal which in this case might be the contractor is not met, this bid bond comes into the picture where it provides protection to the owner of the project. The obligee held under the existence of this bond in this case is the owner and he absolutely has the rights to sue the surety and the principal if he wills to in order to establish the enforcement of the bond. In case the principal refuses to extend any kind of honor to the concerned bid, then he takes the responsibility of being liable for any kind of additional costs that might surface.

• THE PERFORMANCE BONDS

This performance bond is used to provide a kind of assurance or rather guarantee by the contractor or the principal. This guarantee talks about the completion of the contract in full accordance with its respective terms. IF under any circumstances, the principal is seen to be facing defaults, the owner holds the right of calling upon the surety to ensure that the contract meets its completion. In that case, the surety will have no other choice but to hand over the contract to a new designated contractor.