Your Bank and Business Financing – Reality Check

Business owners and managers want to compare equipment finance companies to their bank and for a good reason; a bank is a company’s first point of reference when borrowing money or financing equipment or an expansion project. A bank is the most obvious place to start and a secure place to store your money and use their multiple services. But what a bank does not do well, both historically because of their structure and the recent tightening of the credit market, is offer business financing for capital assets (equipment). Yet many people get confused when looking for an equipment loan because they are not seeing the whole picture; this is a case where you definitely want to compare apples to apples to get the best results.

Here are a few points to compare; these are not set in stone but based on years of experience, these trends apply a majority of the time.

1) Total Dollars Financed – banks normally require that you keep a balance of 20% or 30% of the equipment loan amount on deposit. This means they are only financing 70% or 80% of your equipment costs because you have to keep a certain amount of YOUR money in a fixed account for the duration of the loan. In contrast, an equipment finance company will cover 100% of the equipment including all “soft” costs and will only request a one or two month prepayment. No fixed deposits required.

2) Soft Costs – banks also will normally not cover “soft” costs like labor, warrantees, consulting and installation which means these costs come out of your pocket. An equipment finance company will cover 100% of the equipment price including “soft” costs and some projects can be financed with 100% “soft” costs which no bank would ever consider.

3) Interest Rates – this is the most popular question in the finance world; what’s my rate? If the bank requires 30% deposit in a fixed account then that automatically raises a 5% interest rate to a 20% rate. Now people will argue that you get that deposited money back at the end of the term but that is money which you do not have access to and has an opportunity cost associated with it. Equipment finance companies target their financing rates between 3-5% for cities and 7-9% for commercial financing which is a real fixed rate and not under-stated as the bank rates can be thus independent finance company rates are very competitive with “true” bank rates.

4) Process Speed – banks often take weeks to review and approve a finance request while independent finance companies normally only take a few days and can work much more quickly. Finance underwriters only review business financing while a bank has other types of requests clogging their channel.

Banks also have many more levels of approval and review to pass while independent finance companies normally only have two, underwriting and credit committee. Even with complicated deals, the finance company’s process is always faster.

5) Guarantee – banks require, as a standard part of their documentation, a blanket lien on all assets, both personal and business assets are used as guarantee against default on the loan. Your business assets, your home, your car, and your boat can all be on the line when entering into a bank transaction. This may also be the case with an equipment financing company but if your business operation is solvent then only your business will be listed as collateral and not your personal assets; this is known as a “corp only” approval.

6) Monitoring – banks require yearly “re-qualifying” of all their business accounts which means on the anniversary date of your loan each year, you must submit requested financial documents to assure the bank that everything is going well and nothing has affected your business in a negative way. Finance companies do not require anything during the term of the loan or finance as long as the monthly payments are made on time. Nobody will be checking into your business or policing what you do.

When comparing your bank financing to an independent equipment finance company, you have to make sure you are evaluating all the key parameters, not just one. Clearly, the fine print and terms of the transaction are more important than the big numbers. Banks work well within their space but have proven time and again not to be as flexible or solution-oriented as an independent finance company which solely focuses on business lending can be.

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Lawsuit Financing Companies

Attorneys, law firms, lawyers, beneficiaries or clients usually form lawsuit-financing companies. Lawsuit financing companies can also provide appeal finance, firm finance, custom finance or estate finance.

Many lawyers and attorneys create lawsuit financing companies based on their experience and the types of cases they encounter the most. Attorneys and lawyers with expertise in personal injury lawsuits or patent lawsuits help by providing cash advances and support in their fields.

Lawsuit financing companies provide many financing options. With a significant monthly fee, a few lawsuit financing companies may help to settle the case faster. Though a large variety of options are available, the plaintiff has to discuss with the attorney which option is best suited to him.

The lawsuit financing company and the plaintiff can make an agreement of the amount of share the lawsuit financers would obtain after the settlement or the verdict is known. This is called “flat fee”. Apart from the flat fees, the plaintiff has to pay a minimum fee every month, called “recurring fees”, to the lawsuit financing company. This recurring fee can be as low as 2.9% in the case of a few lawsuit financing companies, or could be as high as 15% with other companies.

It is the financing company’s decision as to how much to pay as the cash advance. Lawsuit financing companies pay from $1000 to about a million dollars depending on the case.

Every lawsuit financing company would have a team of lawyers to assess the strength of the case. The key is to avoid funding frivolous complaints. Thus the financing companies will scrutinize the complaint and decide the chances of success of the case.

Lawsuit financing companies do not term their cash advances as loans but as investments. The applicant has to repay after the verdict. Usually the monetary settlement that is obtained after the settlement by the court is larger than the company’s advance. The lawsuit financing company should be paid the principal and the predetermined share of the monetary verdict.

Many lawsuit financing companies can be approached through the Internet. Companies like legalcashnow.com, legalfundingnetwork.com and lawsuitcash.com are available on the Internet. Websites like these are flooded with information and instructions regarding lawsuit financing.

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The Myth Of Inventory Finance Companies

Your company carries it. You need to finance it. We’re of course talking about inventory. Discussions with clients reveal a lot of misconceptions around inventory financing in Canada. Let’s try and resolve some of those myths around the financing of your inventory, who the players are, who they are not ( that’s the most common myth ) and we’ll also try and provide some straight forward direction on next steps in your inventory financing challenge.

The overall quality of your inventory management will play a large part in your ability to finance your products, which are a part of the current assets component of your balance sheet. You cannot overlook the importance that an inventory lender will place on your ability to report and count your products. The reality is that most firms are either carrying a ‘ continuous’ or ‘ ‘periodic’ system of inventory control.

So here is solid tip # 1 – be aware that inventory lenders prefer a continuous type of inventory accounting, for all the obvious reasons. Essentially you are counting and monitoring inventory (with the use of software of course!) at all times. That’s a good thing when it comes to a lenders valuation on an ongoing basis and their ability to lend.

You’re company is growing. Unfortunately so is your inventory! And that places a huge drain on your cash flow. The working capital cycle dictates that cash turns into inventory which turns into receivables and then we start all over… that lag can be anywhere from 60 – 120 days, sometimes longer. Never underestimate the problem that higher sales will bring to your inventory financing needs.

Clients typically are looking for inventory financing because the level of investment that you have in product and receivables drains your cash flow. As sales volumes increase your cash flow decreases based on your overall collection period of A/R and of course those inventory turns.

Your sales staff of course never wants to be in a position to tell a customer you don’t have the product they have worked so hard to sell.

Does your company have an inventory financing strategy? The majority of firms we talk to in Canada, certainly in the small and medium business sector do not have access to the inventory financing they need. Do true inventory financing companies exist in Canada? We feel that the answer is generally ‘ no ‘, they do not. However if your firm would consider an asset based lending scenario that in effect takes the place of inventory finance companies in Canada.

Under an asset based lending strategy your inventory is margined for what its worth, by experts who categorically know what its worth. You will enhance your ability to finance your product if you have the controls, reporting, and inventory accounting system in places that makes the inventory and asset based lender ‘ comfortable ‘.

Speak to a trusted, credible, and experienced business financing advisor with regards to inventory financing companies and asset based lenders who will give your product the financing it deserves!

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Is The Wrong Type of Equipment Finance Company Bad For (Business) Health?

They are all the same, aren’t they? Absolutely, positively… not! We are of course talking about the equipment finance company industry in Canada and how your selection of the right partner can determine which advantages and disadvantages you can enjoy… or suffer with. We prefer positive advantages that your business can benefit with, not Canadian business financing decisions that you will suffer via the wrong choice of a lease partner for your specific needs.

Ok, so what in the heck are we talking about? Essentially there are four types of asset finance partners in the equipment leasing industry in Canada. And you thought that a lease finance company was a lease finance company!

The first type of partner is the ‘captive’ – no you are not the captive! The term refers simply to finance companies that are owned and literally situated within various manufacturing firms. When clients ask us about lease finance options and they mention specific equipment we are always reminding them to ensure they determine if the manufacturer captive finance firm offers asset financing. If they do we can assure you it is probably the best financial terms you will be able to come up with, as well as a better chance for overall approval re rate, structure and other general terms. Why is that?

It’s to do with motivation – the captive finance firm is motivated to finance and promote the sale of products using financial options such as leasing to get the products out to the marketplace. Want to know a secret that should surprise most business owners and financial managers? It’s simply that captive finance firms in a competing industry will finance their competitor’s products, often at better rates, terms and structures. That is simply because the financial transaction will probably give the competing mfr a foothold into your business to promote and sell their own products. So don’t think that a great firm such as IBM CREDIT CORP. is the only firm that will finance your products you purchase through them. Others will also!

The second main group of asset finance firms in Canada is our chartered banks – Two major banks have leasing arms that are very significant, others employ lease finance to varying degrees. Our real only comment here is that the credit bar is high and more often than not you have to be a customer of the bank to enjoy the great lease and finance structures they offer.

The third main category of the Canadian equipment leasing company market is actually the largest and most robust. It also requires the maximum amount of knowledge and navigation by Canadian business owners and financial managers. This is the Independent lease finance market, where there are tens of firms that offer lease financing based on various criteria of asset size, credit quality, geographical preference, industry specialization, etc, etc, etc.

You have a great choice with our category 3 partners, the independent finance companies. You can spend tens or hundreds of hours determining their credit criteria, additional collateral they require, the size of deals they do, the different lease structures they offer, or… alternatively.. use our final category for lease provider, the independent lease finance advisor who are knowledgeable intermediaries who know the market, have a strong reputation with lease providers, and can match the advantages you seek in an equipment finance transaction to the right provider. Subtle nuances in your overall lease structure, depending on the size of your transaction, can save you thousands of dollars and untold grief at the end of the term of your lease.

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