Advantages and disadvantages of invoice financing, discounting, and factoring – A guide for UK businesses

Last updated on 4 April 2024

Invoice financing, invoice discounting, and factoring have become increasingly popular financial tools amongst UK businesses seeking effective solutions for cash flow challenges. However, it is essential to understand the nuances, advantages, and potential disadvantages of each method.

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Let’s break down these three methods for you to make an informed choice that best suits your business needs.

Advantages and disadvantages of invoice financing

FeaturesInvoice FinancingInvoice DiscountingFactoring
Immediate Cash AccessYesYesYes
Maintains Control of Collection ProcessVariesYesNo
Impacts on Customer RelationshipsVariesNoPotentially
Resource DemandsMediumHighLow
Outsourcing CollectionsVariesNoYes
Credit ControlNoNoYes
Dependence on Customer CreditworthinessYesYesYes
Available to B2B Businesses OnlyVariesYesVaries
Advantages and disadvantages of invoice financing

Please note that this table simplifies each method and it is advisable to thoroughly understand each option before making a decision. Some providers may offer different terms or unique offerings that don’t fit neatly into these categories.

Invoice financing

Invoice financing is a general term for a type of asset-based lending that allows businesses to borrow money against the amounts due from customers.

Advantages of invoice financing

  • Improved cash glow: Invoice financing can significantly enhance cash flow by offering businesses up-front payment for outstanding invoices, thus eliminating the typical waiting period for customer payment.
  • Flexibility: Invoice financing doesn’t require the collateral that traditional bank loans often demand. Your invoices serve as your collateral, making it a flexible funding option.
  • Growth opportunity: Businesses can seize new opportunities quickly without worrying about capital constraints. The funding obtained can be used to expand operations, invest in new resources, or cater to large orders.

Disadvantages of invoice financing

  • Costs: Invoice financing usually incurs fees and interest rates which can add up over time, potentially eroding profit margins.
  • Dependency on customer creditworthiness: The amount of funding a business can access depends on its customers’ creditworthiness. If a customer has poor credit, the business may find it harder to secure financing.
  • Potential customer relations impact: Some businesses may be wary of the impact on customer relationships, particularly if they’re made aware that the company is borrowing against their invoices.

Invoice discounting

Invoice discounting is a form of invoice financing where a business borrows money against its unpaid invoices. However, unlike factoring, the business maintains control of the collection process.

Advantages of invoice discounting

  • Maintaining customer relationships: With invoice discounting, the business retains control of its sales ledger and continues to collect payments directly from customers, thereby maintaining the existing customer relationships.
  • Confidentiality: As the process is confidential, customers need not know about the arrangement, which could be beneficial for businesses that don’t want to disclose their financial arrangements.
  • Access to larger funds: Often, invoice discounting allows for a greater amount of capital to be accessed compared to other financing options as it scales with your sales.

Disadvantages of invoice discounting

  • Administration: As the business retains control over the invoice collection process, it still has to devote resources to chasing late payments.
  • Limited to B2B businesses: Invoice discounting is typically only available to businesses that operate on a B2B model.
  • Risk of over-funding: Businesses run the risk of borrowing more than they can pay back if their customers default on payments or pay late.


Factoring, another form of invoice financing, involves a business selling its invoices to a factoring company (the “factor”) at a discount. The factor then collects payment directly from the business’s customers.

Advantages of factoring

  • Outsourcing collections: A major benefit of factoring is that it outsources the responsibility of chasing and collecting invoice payments, freeing up valuable time and resources.
  • Credit control: The factoring company conducts credit checks on your customers, which can help you manage and mitigate credit risk.
  • Quick access to cash: Factoring can provide almost immediate cash, typically around 85-90% of the invoice value, which can be a lifeline for businesses experiencing cash flow issues.

Disadvantages of factoring

  • Potential impact on customer relationships: As the factoring company takes over the collections process, this could impact customer relationships if the factoring company’s approach is more aggressive than the original business would prefer.
  • Cost: While factoring provides immediate cash flow, it comes at a cost. The fees charged by factoring companies can erode profit margins, making this a potentially expensive form of financing.
  • Dependence on customer creditworthiness: Similar to invoice financing, the amount of funding a business can access through factoring largely depends on its customers’ creditworthiness.
  • Contractual limitations: Some factoring agreements may lock businesses into long-term contracts or stipulate a minimum volume of invoices that must be factored, reducing the business’s flexibility.

Concluding remarks – invoice financing advantages and disadvantages

Each of these financing methods offers unique advantages and challenges. Invoice financing, discounting, and factoring can be extremely beneficial to businesses looking for ways to boost cash flow without taking on traditional debt. However, they are not without their drawbacks, including potential impacts on customer relationships and profit margins.

The key is to thoroughly understand each option and assess them against your business’s specific needs, operations, customer relationships, and growth objectives. Consider seeking advice from a financial advisor or an accountant who understands your business to ensure you make the most suitable choice.

FAQ – invoice financing advantages and disadvantages

Are invoice financing, invoice discounting, and factoring only suitable for businesses in financial difficulty?

No, not necessarily. While these methods are indeed helpful for businesses facing cash flow challenges, they are also useful for growing businesses that need working capital to fund expansion or for businesses wanting to ensure a steady cash flow irrespective of payment terms.

Do I need to finance all my invoices?

This depends on the terms set by your provider. Some providers offer a flexible service where you choose which invoices to finance, while others may require you to finance all your invoices.

Will my customers know if I use invoice financing or factoring?

In the case of invoice discounting, the process can be confidential, so your customers don’t need to know. However, with factoring, the provider typically takes over your sales ledger and collects payments directly from your customers, so in this instance, your customers will know.

Is it easy to switch between invoice financing, invoice discounting, and factoring?

It’s essential to understand that each service involves contracts, often with different terms and conditions. Switching between them would involve ending one contract and starting another, which might not always be straightforward or financially beneficial. It’s advisable to seek professional advice before making such decisions.

What happens if my customer doesn’t pay an invoice?

In invoice financing and discounting, the risk of customer non-payment generally stays with your business. However, with non-recourse factoring, the factoring company assumes the risk of non-payment, but this usually comes at a higher cost.

Remember, these are general answers, and the specific terms can vary based on the provider and the agreement you enter into. Always seek professional financial advice tailored to your business’s unique circumstances.

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