Look beyond overdrafts to improve business cash flow

This is always the case, but for businesses of all sizes, cash flow is one of the most important success factors.

In an unprecedented year, this has never been truer, and while many companies have traditionally relied on overdrafts to spend less time, COVID-19 has changed goals in many ways.

It is understandable that the pandemic has affected the yields and profitability of some businesses, and with tighter credit in some cases overdrafts have been reduced or withdrawn. This can be challenging and it is important to remember that lenders have the right to withdraw this credit line at any time without notice.

After 44 years in the banking industry, most recently as NatWest’s director of communications for West Norfolk, I understand how global solutions can impact small regional companies. I’ve been through four major recessions during my career, and my experience is that trading outside of a recession is more difficult than trading through a recession.

I mean, while businesses can tighten their belts during tough times, the impact of delays on reduced cash flow can impact a business’s ability to function as orders increase.

I recently worked with a production customer who experienced this exact scenario. Even though the company continued to operate during the downturn, it was forced to invest in cash reserves to pay employees and suppliers and to keep things cool. When restrictions are lifted, the company inevitably sees an influx of orders, but with a 60 day payment term, it is now struggling to make up the difference until the money is returned to the bank.

During my banking days, I could probably offer these customers an overdraft or one-stop loan. Now that we are working with Complete Commercial Finance, we have access to even more options including invoicing, refinancing and special financing. Creditors. In reality, the business world cannot stand still and must be open to exploring other ways to create working capital in the current situation.

The government’s Corona Virus Business Interruption Loan Program (CBILS) and Loan Program (BBLS) are providing support for many businesses this year. In late September, Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Winter Economic Plan extended CBILS and BBLS loans from six to ten years and introduced a Pay As You Grow option to provide greater debt flexibility and an interest-only deferred option for six months. Repayment without affecting the creditworthiness of the company.

There are exciting steps out there, but it’s important to think long term. Last month we worked with a client who used BBL but used the funds to buy equipment during the summer. Due to late customer payments, the company suddenly had difficulty with cash flow and needed to borrow to cover monthly operating expenses. Although we were able to obtain business loans, these short-term borrowing costs were higher than the 2.5% late fee for BBL which would ultimately cost the company more.

We are in uncharted waters with COVID-19 and we are only beginning to understand how lenders consider CBILS and BBLS loans when assessing a company’s financial condition.

The examples above show how a short-term outlook can affect long-term outcomes. It has never been more important to seek professional advice and use the ear and deep understanding of trading finance experts like us to get the most out of it.

While unfortunately we live in uncertain times and know that you have taken all the measures to protect your company’s financial future, this is definitely the best way to tackle the challenges that many companies will face in the months to come.

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