Asset-based lending provides alternatives to traditional secured loan packages by having less documentation to support a company’s loan request with lower down payments, increased collateral protection (multiple assets), etc. It also provides lower cost of funds; however, it is important to note that there are still significant costs involved in the process. As a result, there are different types of terms available for different types of companies, and it is important to work with a lending expert that has experience in asset-based lending.
What are asset-based loans?
Asset-based loans are secured on assets rather than the borrower’s income to meet the debt repayment. This is primarily because they are both very different, yet have many similarities. Asset-based lending is a type of financing which relies on the value of your assets for repayment. This can include things such as your home or vehicle, in addition to other types of valuable possessions. Asset-based lending allows you to borrow up to 80% or 90% of the value of your assets, with the remaining 10% or 20% coming from your personal savings. While it is easy to categorize all loans together, Fintalent’s asset based lending consultants agree that it is not so easy to compare asset based lending with other forms of lending (such as your standard personal loan).
A major difference between the two loan types is that an asset-based loan involves a physical asset as collateral – such as a car or property – instead of the borrower’s income. The most commonly used type of asset-based financing is equipment leasing. Asset based financing typically involves a longer period of time compared to other types of loans including equipment finance, and may have higher upfront costs.
However, there are also advantages to using asset-based loans including their low cost and flexible features. This is particularly true when used to finance expensive assets, such as an aircraft or a fleet of trucks.
The modern banking sector is one that encourages competition, offering customers a range of products and services that best suit their needs. Asset-based lending has grown in popularity as banks attempt to keep up with the changing needs and demands of consumers in the current economic climate while looking to cut overheads without reducing customer service levels.
One of the many alternatives available to finance a company’s operations is asset-based financing or borrowing (ABF). ABF involves borrowing money based on the value of a firm’s assets. An asset-based lender seeks to maximize its return on capital by financing specific types of assets and projects. While the term “asset-based lending” suggests that a lender is involved in a partnership with a company, in reality, it is a completely different concept in which lenders own the business they finance.
As an alternative to traditional secured loans, ABF firms seek to control the cash flow cycle between making payments on a loan and receiving those funds back as profits or cash flow from selling those assets. In this process, the borrower is both lender and borrower. The borrower sells assets with cash or receivables, closes escrow to collect funds (in traditional settlement), then pays off the loan and closes escrow to receive funds for repayment.
An asset-backed lender finances assets that enable a company to generate cash flow. The lender “sells” assets for cash or receivables and uses the money to pay off the loan and close escrow to be paid from that same funding source.
The assets can include: real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory, accounts receivable, etc. In fact, the asset can be something that a company has purchased and wants to sell (e.g., equipment) or something that is owned by the company but of which it does not need to receive additional funds (e.g., inventory). The process of selling assets and using cash or receivables to pay off the loan and close escrow is referred to as “recovery”.
In ABF, lenders are granted security over assets such as real estate or machinery and equipment based on their anticipated future value. Lenders also have credit support documents such as deeds of trust, mortgage documents, etc. These documents offer the lender security in the event that a borrower defaults. While ABF can help a company raise capital, these loans require less legal documentation than traditional secured loans, which can save time and money for both parties.
Origin of Asset-Based Lending
The origins of asset-based lending can be traced to the early 1980s when mobile phone companies realised they could no longer rely solely on bank overdraft facilities to support their growing business. This led to a boom in mobile phone companies setting up their own finance organizations under the title of Mobile Phone Franchise Companies. These organisations were responsible for financing loans from a local bank and either sold them on to others or leased them back to customers under the franchise agreement by taking out a servicing fee. The franchises would even go as far as building customer base by offering customers free handsets that could be paid off over time through injecting sales and revenue into the franchise’s business.
In the 1990s asset-based lending really began to take off, with the rise of equipment financing companies such as Leasing and Lease Brokerage Companies. These companies were responsible for ascertaining a customer’s business requirements and then finding suitable funding arrangements, either through accounts receivable financing or factoring. Many of these finance businesses developed by offering an enhanced level of service by developing leases that suited both the bank and the lessee.
The Basics of Asset-Based Lending
Traditional lending options typically rely on the borrower’s credit score, income, and other factors. However, asset-based lenders may not always be so picky. If they like your asset, they’re going to take it. This is a major perk for anyone with a valuable asset lying around – you can get cash for it without having to pay private equity or venture capitalists or negotiate a loan deal with your bank or any of those other hoops that high net worth individuals have to jump through.
Asset-based lending works because you don’t have to worry about paying it back immediately – instead, the lender watches your asset and collects when you decide to sell it. You can borrow as much or as little as you like and then pay back small amounts over a long period of time. As long as the asset keeps appreciating in value, you’re good to go.
Not every lender is willing to take on every asset. Some are going to look for secure assets like houses, cars, and even boats while others are only interested in intangible assets like collectibles or businesses. You will have to ensure that whatever your asset is matches up with your lender’s terms.
Also, some lenders may be willing to finance certain projects with negative cash flow – this means that the business or project needs more money on an ongoing basis than what it’s bringing in. For example, if you’re investing in a business, you may need to pay $10,000 per month to keep it running while only bringing in $5,000 per month.
Assets vs. Credit Score
Asset-based Financing is ideal for companies that:
- Have a specific need for extra cash within a short time frame (e.g., equipment purchase)
- Need capital to run their business operations or to protect themselves from unforeseen changes in their cash flow (e.g., accounts receivable)
- Want to quickly return excess inventory without carrying costs of storage or slow selling cycles (turning inventory rapidly generates cash flow)
- Are looking to reduce overhead costs (e.g., machinery, equipment)
It’s a prime option for anyone looking to finance startup businesses, start small projects with low expectations and an achievable goal, or just fill in some gaps in their finances when times are tough. Almost any asset owner can take advantage of this option.
Benefits to Borrowers
By using an asset-based loan to purchase expensive machinery it is possible to spread out payments over a longer period of time, thus making these purchases more affordable. Interest rates can also be fixed or variable. Many banks also offer good rates compared to other loan types although this can be dependent on the asset and age of the equipment.
Borrowers also have more flexibility with their asset based loans as they are able to make free or reduced payments, depending on their individual credit score and available financial resources. This is not possible with personal loans. Some banks even allow for additional machinery to be added onto the same asset-based loan, provided that it meets certain parameters such as ensuring that each item does not exceed 70% of the original value of equipment already financed.
The ability to add or remove assets from a bank-financed facility is another reason why some businesses choose an asset-based loan over a traditional business loan.
It is important to remember that asset-based lending is not the solution to every business’ funding needs. In some circumstances a standard loan may be the better option. The key is to look at your individual business requirements in detail and weigh up the pros and cons of each loan type on offer. A good way of doing this is through the use of a business cash flow template, which allows for a detailed analysis of each option in terms of both short and long term costs, timescales and flexibility. Where a business manager lacks the capacity to carry out appropriate evaluation to determine which financing course to take, Fintalent’s expert Asset based lending consultants are readily available to fill the gap.