What is Reserves (Invoice)?

Reserves in the context of invoice factoring refer to the portion of the invoice value that the factoring company holds back until the customer pays the invoice in full. This reserve acts as a security measure for the factoring company. Here’s a detailed explanation tailored for a UK audience:


  1. Definition:
    • Reserves (Invoice Factoring): Reserves, in invoice factoring, are the funds withheld by the factoring company from the invoice amount advanced to the business. This amount is held back to cover any potential shortfalls, disputes, or adjustments that may arise until the invoice is paid by the customer.
  2. How It Works:
    • Invoice Submission: A business sells its invoices to a factoring company to receive immediate cash.
    • Advance Payment: The factoring company typically advances a significant percentage of the invoice value, usually between 70% to 90%.
    • Reserve Amount: The remaining percentage, known as the reserve, is withheld by the factoring company as a safeguard.
    • Customer Payment: Once the customer pays the invoice in full, the factoring company releases the reserve amount to the business, minus any fees or charges agreed upon in the factoring contract.
  3. Purpose:
    • Risk Management: The reserve helps the factoring company manage risk by providing a buffer against potential non-payment, disputes, or returns.
    • Adjustment for Fees: It allows the factoring company to deduct any applicable fees or charges from the reserve before releasing the remaining funds to the business.
  4. Example:
    • A UK-based company sells an invoice worth £10,000 to a factoring company. The factoring company advances 85% of the invoice value (£8,500) and holds back 15% (£1,500) as a reserve. Once the customer pays the invoice, the factoring company deducts its fee (e.g., £300) from the reserve and releases the remaining £1,200 to the company.
  5. Benefits:
    • Immediate Cash Flow: Businesses can access most of the invoice value quickly, improving cash flow and allowing them to cover operational expenses or invest in growth.
    • Risk Mitigation: The reserve provides a safety net for the factoring company, making invoice factoring a more viable option for businesses with creditworthy customers.
  6. Considerations:
    • Fee Structure: Businesses should understand the fee structure and how it affects the reserve amount. Factoring fees can vary based on the agreement and the risk associated with the invoices.
    • Payment Terms: Clear payment terms with customers are essential to minimize disputes and ensure timely release of the reserve.
    • Factoring Agreement: The specific terms regarding reserves should be clearly outlined in the factoring agreement, including the percentage withheld and conditions for release.
  7. Industry Usage:
    • Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs): Often use invoice factoring and reserves to maintain steady cash flow without waiting for customer payments.
    • Seasonal Businesses: Companies with seasonal sales fluctuations can benefit from the immediate cash flow provided by factoring, using reserves to manage off-peak periods.
  8. Legal and Regulatory Considerations:
    • Contract Clarity: Ensure the factoring agreement clearly defines the terms and conditions related to reserves, fees, and the release process.
    • Consumer Protection: Adherence to UK regulations on fair trading and consumer protection to avoid disputes and legal issues.

In summary, reserves in invoice factoring for a UK audience refer to the portion of the invoice value held back by the factoring company to mitigate risk and cover potential fees or adjustments. This mechanism helps businesses improve cash flow while providing security for the factoring company. Understanding the terms and implications of reserves is crucial for businesses considering invoice factoring as a financing option.