Raising Finance

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UK businesses using short-term finance from banks are being stung by hidden fees and overcharged

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By the end of 2014, £19.4m was raised in annual asset-based finance – a record high. The Asset Based Finance Association (ABFA) suggested asset-based finance provided to UK businesses is set to top £20bn in 2015.

Around 80 per cent of this funding is forecast to be raised through invoice finance – where businesses borrow against the value of their unpaid invoices.

ABFA CEO Jeff Longhurst said that asset-based finance is now “in pole position to become a leading alternative to traditional loans”.

“Invoice finance is already widely recognised by firms as a quick and straightforward way to leverage the underlying strength of their business, unlocking funding to grow,” he added.

But research by MarketInvoice has found that 26,000 businesses face up to 35 different hidden fees within invoice finance contracts with banks. UK businesses are being charged £758m per year for invoice finance, £425m more than the cost of using peer-to-peer providers.

Anil Stocker, CEO of MarketInvoice, said: “As a result, the market is plagued by bad practice.”

The extra charges range from fees for handling paperwork to extra costs for making same-day payments.

Read more about invoice finance:

This could also include: monthly minimums, add-on or administration fees, application fees, proposal fees, due diligence fees, credit check fees, notification fees, schedule processing fees, BACS fees or invoice processing fees.

Based on revenues from banks’ invoice financing arms, the report showed high street lenders charge 6.4p on average for every £1 of invoice finance.

Louise Beaumont, head of public affairs at GLI Finance said invoice financing was “legendary for its opaque fee structure”.

“Providers of invoice financing advertise the headline cost but not the full cost to the business in question,” she said.

Some 66 per cent of consumers said they realised they are “being overcharged”, according to PwC. Furthermore, two-thirds of business leaders don’t trust their bank not to overcharge them.

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