What is Invoice Factoring?

Invoice factoring is a financial service that allows businesses to improve their cash flow by selling their outstanding invoices to a factoring company (factor) at a discount. This service is particularly beneficial for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK that need immediate access to working capital without waiting for their customers to pay their invoices.


Key Components of Invoice Factoring:

  1. Immediate Cash Flow:
    • By selling invoices to a factoring company, businesses receive an immediate cash advance, usually around 70-90% of the invoice value. This helps to cover operational expenses, payroll, and other immediate financial needs.
  2. Collection Services:
    • The factoring company takes over the responsibility of collecting payments from the business’s customers. This relieves the business of the time-consuming task of chasing overdue invoices and managing accounts receivable.
  3. Fee Structure:
    • Factoring Fee: The factoring company charges a fee for its services, which is typically a percentage of the invoice value. This fee covers the cost of managing and collecting the invoices.
    • Discount Rate: The remaining balance of the invoice, minus the factoring fee, is paid to the business once the customer settles the invoice. The total cost of factoring depends on the length of time it takes for the customers to pay and the risk associated with the invoices.
  4. Types of Factoring:
    • Recourse Factoring: The business retains the risk of non-payment. If the customer fails to pay the invoice, the business must repay the advance to the factoring company.
    • Non-Recourse Factoring: The factoring company assumes the risk of non-payment. If the customer does not pay, the factoring company absorbs the loss, but this service usually comes with higher fees.

Advantages of Invoice Factoring:

  1. Improved Cash Flow:
    • Businesses can access immediate funds tied up in unpaid invoices, improving their liquidity and enabling them to meet their financial obligations promptly.
  2. Outsourced Collections:
    • The factoring company handles the collections process, allowing businesses to focus on their core activities without worrying about chasing payments.
  3. Credit Management:
    • Factoring companies often provide credit checks and monitoring services, helping businesses assess the creditworthiness of their customers and manage credit risk more effectively.
  4. Flexibility:
    • Invoice factoring can be tailored to the specific needs of the business. Companies can choose which invoices to factor and for how long, offering greater control over their cash flow management.

Disadvantages of Invoice Factoring:

  1. Cost:
    • The fees associated with factoring can be higher than traditional financing methods, such as bank loans. Businesses must weigh the benefits of improved cash flow against the cost of the service.
  2. Customer Relations:
    • Involving a third party in the collections process can impact customer relationships. It is essential to choose a reputable factoring company that handles collections professionally and sensitively.
  3. Reliance on Customer Payment:
    • The effectiveness of invoice factoring depends on the reliability of the customers. Slow-paying or non-paying customers can still create cash flow challenges.

Example of Invoice Factoring:

A manufacturing company in the UK sells £50,000 worth of products to a retailer with payment terms of 60 days. To improve cash flow, the company factors the invoice with a factoring company that offers an advance rate of 80% and charges a factoring fee of 3%.

  • Advance Payment: £50,000 × 80% = £40,000
  • Factoring Fee: £50,000 × 3% = £1,500
  • Remaining Balance: £50,000 – £40,000 – £1,500 = £8,500

The manufacturing company receives £40,000 immediately. Once the retailer pays the invoice, the factoring company deducts the £1,500 fee and remits the remaining £8,500 to the manufacturing company.



Invoice factoring is a valuable financial tool for UK businesses looking to improve their cash flow and manage accounts receivable more effectively. By understanding the benefits and costs associated with factoring, businesses can make informed decisions about whether this service is suitable for their financial needs.