Factoring

By: Max Bellamy

A factor is basically a financial institution that purchases accounts receivable from businesses. The factor normally bears the credit risks associated with the accounts receivable purchased by it. There are about twenty firms in the United States engaged solely in factoring. These firms raise their operating funds by issue of equity and debt capital.

The factoring agreement governs the relationship between the factor and the business whose accounts receivable the factor purchases. The following conditions are typically found in factoring agreements. The factor will select only those accounts receivable which appear to be acceptable to it. The sales of accounts receivable will be done to the factor on a non-recourse basis. This implies that the factor has to absorb the losses arising from uncollectible accounts.

The factor would set up an account, similar to a bank deposit account, for the firm. Monies will be deposited in this account as payments are received or as due dates arrive. The firm can freely withdraw amounts from this account. Surplus balances in the account earn a certain rate of interest. The factor is liable to pay the firm on the last day of the credit period or when the account is collected, whichever occurs first.

The factor will advance money to the firm against not-yet-collected and not-yet-due accounts receivable. These advances, representing a negative balance in the firm's account, carry a certain rate of interest. Factoring costs consist of three elements: factoring commission, interest levied on advances, and interest paid on surplus balances. Factoring commission is payment to the factor for administering the tasks of receivables management and bearing the risk of bad debt. Factoring commission is usually 1 to 3 per cent of the face value of the accounts receivable factored. The interest period on advances may be 2 to 4 per cent higher than the prime rate.

Accounting
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