Working Capital Cost ? Most business owners understand that their largest working capital assets are accounts receivable, often follow by inventory. ( On occasion inventory might be larger – that is not the norm)
If the largest working capital asset ( and the much needed cash!) is tied up in accounts receivable then does it make sense for customers to utilize factoring and invoice discounting, despite their concerns ( and perceptions ) around cost of using this method of financing. A rought estimate of payment terms in business might be that probably 90% of the worlds firms run on 30 day payment terms. Most business owners will quickly respond that while the worlds terms are 30 days, most customers pay in 45-60 days, and, unfortunately, sometimes longer!
Business owners need and want to convert those receivables into cash. When business owners hold receivables for 60 days this becomes a more costly scenario than they think. This is one of our main points around customers perception and lack of knowledge of the true cost of carrying receivables versus converting them into cash utilizing a factoring or receivable discounting facility. We will take a look a solid example of reality and perception of reality!
Let us say that a company has a 30 day payment terms. Let us also assume that they generate a 20% overall return on equity on their business model. Finally, lets say that the customer pays in 44 days. ( Not the 30 they promised!)
$100 x 1.20 44/365 = 100$ x 1.02 = 102.22
Therefore the company can earn a 2.2 % return on the funds in those 44 days. ( Example courtesy of Standard & Poors )
If a company factors or discounts their receivables at the time those invoices are generated then they have the true ability to immediately reduce the overall period that it takes a dollar to flow through their company. The new working capital / cash can be used to expand operations, buy more inventory, etc. If a customer is charged a discount rate of 2% / month on the factoring any new financial statement will show that days sales outstanding have reduced significantly.
The most important point in our example is as follows: The longer a business owner waits to convert receivables the lower the overall return on equity is for the firm.
Business owners and financial managers are strongly urged to investigate a Wall Street term, or ratio, known as the DUPONT FORMULA. While the analysis of that formula is not the subject of our article the business owner will see that the formula is an incredibly great way to see how asset size and asset turnover impact RETURN ON EQUITY. We would quickly note that Return on Equity is one of the strongest measures Warren Buffett uses to measure financial success. The essence of the formula is simply that if a company can turn assets more efficiently then return on assets and equity increases.
In summary we have shown that while customers many times focus only the factoring rate or price, this type of analysis is very short sighted, as the ability of a firm to utilize factoring or invoice discounting great enhances their overall asset turnover and return on equity. Factoring/Invoice Discounting reduces a company’s collection period, allowing the company to finance growth.