Finance, Credit, Investments – Economical Categories

Scientific works in the theories of finances and credit, according to the specification of the research object, are characterized to be many-sided and many-leveled.

The definition of totality of the economical relations formed in the process of formation, distribution and usage of finances, as money sources is widely spread. For example, in “the general theory of finances” there are two definitions of finances:

1) “…Finances reflect economical relations, formation of the funds of money sources, in the process of distribution and redistribution of national receipts according to the distribution and usage”. This definition is given relatively to the conditions of Capitalism, when cash-commodity relations gain universal character;

2) “Finances represent the formation of centralized ad decentralized money sources, economical relations relatively with the distribution and usage, which serve for fulfillment of the state functions and obligations and also provision of the conditions of the widened further production”. This definition is brought without showing the environment of its action. We share partly such explanation of finances and think expedient to make some specification.

First, finances overcome the bounds of distribution and redistribution service of the national income, though it is a basic foundation of finances. Also, formation and usage of the depreciation fund which is the part of financial domain, belongs not to the distribution and redistribution of the national income (of newly formed value during a year), but to the distribution of already developed value.

This latest first appears to be a part of value of main industrial funds, later it is moved to the cost price of a ready product (that is to the value too) and after its realization, and it is set the depression fund. Its source is taken into account before hand as a depression kind in the consistence of the ready products cost price.

Second, main goal of finances is much wider then “fulfillment of the state functions and obligations and provision of conditions for the widened further production”. Finances exist on the state level and also on the manufactures and branches’ level too, and in such conditions, when the most part of the manufactures are not state.

V. M. Rodionova has a different position about this subject: “real formation of the financial resources begins on the stage of distribution, when the value is realized and concrete economical forms of the realized value are separated from the consistence of the profit”. V. M. Rodionova makes an accent of finances, as distributing relations, when D. S. Moliakov underlines industrial foundation of finances. Though both of them give quite substantiate discussion of finances, as a system of formation, distribution and usage of the funds of money sources, that comes out of the following definition of the finances: “financial cash relations, which forms in the process of distribution and redistribution of the partial value of the national wealth and total social product, is related with the subjects of the economy and formation and usage of the state cash incomes and savings in the widened further production, in the material stimulation of the workers for satisfaction of the society social and other requests”.

In the manuals of the political economy we meet with the following definitions of finances:
“Finances of the socialistic state represent economical (cash) relations, with the help of which, in the way of planned distribution of the incomes and savings the funds of money sources of the state and socialistic manufactures are formed for guaranteeing the growth of the production, rising the material and cultural level of the people and for satisfying other general society requests”.
“The system of creation and usage of necessary funds of cash resources for guarantying socialistic widened further production represent exactly the finances of the socialistic society. And the totality of economical relations arisen between state, manufactures and organizations, branches, regions and separate citizen according to the movement of cash funds make financial relations”.
As we’ve seen, definitions of finances made by financiers and political economists do not differ greatly.
In every discussed position there are:

1) expression of essence and phenomenon in the definition of finances;

2) the definition of finances, as the system of the creation and usage of funds of cash sources on the level of phenomenon.

3) Distribution of finances as social product and the value of national income, definition of the distributions planned character, main goals of the economy and economical relations, for servicing of which it is used.

If refuse the preposition “socialistic” in the definition of finances, we may say, that it still keeps actuality. We meet with such traditional definitions of finances, without an adjective “socialistic”, in the modern economical literature. We may give such an elucidation: “finances represent cash resources of production and usage, also cash relations appeared in the process of distributing values of formed economical product and national wealth for formation and further production of the cash incomes and savings of the economical subjects and state, rewarding of the workers and satisfaction of the social requests”. in this elucidation of finances like D. S. Moliakov and V. M. Rodionov’s definitions, following the traditional inheritance, we meet with the widening of the financial foundation. They concern “distribution and redistribution of the value of created economical product, also the partial distribution of the value of national wealth”. This latest is very actual, relatively to the process of privatization and the transition to privacy and is periodically used in practice in different countries, for example, Great Britain and France.

“Finances – are cash sources, financial resources, their creation and movement, distribution and redistribution, usage, also economical relations, which are conditioned by intercalculations between the economical subjects, movement of cash sources, money circulation and usage”.
“Finances are the system of economical relations, which are connected with firm creation, distribution and usage of financial resources”.

We meet with absolutely innovational definitions of finances in Z. Body and R. Merton’s basis manuals. “Finance – it is the science about how the people lead spending `the deficit cash resources and incomes in the definite period of time. The financial decisions are characterized by the expenses and incomes which are 1) separated in time, and 2) as a rule, it is impossible to take them into account beforehand neither by those who get decisions nor any other person” . “Financial theory consists of numbers of the conceptions… which learns systematically the subjects of distribution of the cash resources relatively to the time factor; it also considers quantitative models, with the help of which the estimation, putting into practice and realization of the alternative variants of every financial decisions take place” .

These basic conceptions and quantitative models are used at every level of getting financial decisions, but in the latest definition of finances, we meet with the following doctrine of the financial foundation: main function of the finances is in the satisfaction of the people’s requests; the subjects of economical activities of any kind (firms, also state organs of every level) are directed towards fulfilling this basic function.

For the goals of our monograph, it is important to compare well-known definitions about finances, credit and investment, to decide how and how much it is possible to integrate the finances, investments and credit into the one total part.

Some researcher thing that credit is the consisting part of finances, if it is discussed from the position of essence and category. The other, more numerous group proves, that an economical category of credit exists parallel to the economical category of finances, by which it underlines impossibility of the credit’s existence in the consistence of finances.

N. K. Kuchukova underlined the independence of the category of credit and notes that it is only its “characteristic feature the turned movement of the value, which is not related with transmission of the loan opportunities together with the owners’ rights”.

N. D. Barkovski replies that functioning of money created an economical basis for apportioning finances and credit as an independent category and gave rise to the credit and financial relations. He noticed the Gnoseological roots of science in money and credit, as the science about finances has business with the research of such economical relations, which lean upon cash flow and credit.
Let’s discuss the most spread definitions of credit. in the modern publications credit appeared to be “luckier”, then finances. For example, we meet with the following definition of credit in the finance-economical dictionary: “credit is the loan in the form of cash and commodity with the conditions of returning, usually, by paying percent. Credit represents a form of movement of the loan capital and expresses economical relations between the creditor and borrower”.

This is the traditional definition of credit. In the earlier dictionary of the economy we read: “credit is the system of economical relations, which is formed while the transmission of cash and material means into the temporal usage, as a rule under the conditions of returning and paying percent”.
In the manual of the political economy published under reduction of V. A. Medvedev the following definition is given: “credit, as an economical category, expresses the created relations between the society, labour collective and workers during formation and usage of the loan funds, under the terms of paying present and returning, during transmission of sources for the temporal usage and accumulation”.

Credit is discussed in the following way in the earlier education-methodological manuals of political economy: “credit is the system of money relations, which is created in the process of using and mobilization of temporarily free cash means of the state budget, unions, manufactures, organizations and population. Credit has an objective character. It is used for providing widened further production of the state and other needs. Credit differs from finances by the returning character, while financing of manufactures and organizations by the state is fulfilled without this condition”.

We meet with the following definition if “the course of economy”: “credit is an economical category, which represents relations, while the separate industrial organizations or persons transmit money means to each-other for temporal usage under the conditions of returning. Creation of credit is conditioned by a historical process of fulfilling the economical and money relations, the form of which is the money relation”.

Following scientists give slightly different definitions of credit:
“Credit – is a loan in the form of money or commodity, which is given to the borrower by a creditor under the conditions of returning and paying the percentage rate by the borrower”.
Credit is giving the temporally free money sources or commodity as a debt for the defined terms by the price of fixed percentage. Thus, a credit is the loan in the form of money or commodity. In the process of this loan’s movement, a definite relations are formed between a creditor (the loan is given by a juridical of physical person, who gives certain cash as a debt) and the debtor.
Combining every definition named above, we come to an idea, that credit is giving money capital of commodity as a debt, for certain terms and material provision under the price of firm percentage rate. It expresses definite economical relations between the participants of the process of capital formation. Necessity of the credit relations is conditioned, from one side, by gathering solid quantity of temporarily free money sources, and from the second side, existence of requests of them.

Though, at the same time we must distinguish two resembling concepts: loan and credit. Loan is characterized by:

o Here, the discussion may touch upon transmission of money and also things form one side (loaner) to another (borrower): a)under the owning of the borrower and, at the same time, b) under the conditions of returning same amount or same quantity and quality of the things;

o The loaning of money may bear no interest;

o Any person may take part in it.
With the difference with loan, credit, which is somehow a private occasion of the loan, represents:

o One side (loaner) gives to the second one (borrower) only money, and _ for temporal usage;

o It may not bear no interest (if the assignment doesn’t foresee something);

o In it creditor is not any person, but a credit organization (at the first place, banks).
So, a credit is the bank credit. To our mind, it is not correct to use “credit” and “loan” as the synonyms.
Banking crediting is the union of relations between bank (as a creditor) and its borrower. These relations touch upon:

a) Giving a certain amount of money to the borrower for definite purpose (though, we meet with the so-called free credits, aims and objects of crediting are not appointed in the assignment);

b) Its opportune returning;

c) Getting percentage rate from the borrower for using the sources under his/her disposal.
The essential foundation of the credit essence and its important element is existence of trust between the two sides (in Latin “credo”, from which comes the word “credit”, means “trust”).
From the position of circulation of money forms (in the abstraction, historical process of formation economical relations and social budget and banking systems expressed by them) comparing different definitions of finances and credit, the paradox conclusion appears: credit is the private occasion of finances. And truly, from the position of movement of the money forms, finances represent the process of formation and usage of the funds of cash means. Very often such movements are fulfilled without returning, but sometimes, it is possible to give loans from the budget for the investment projects of other needs. Also, when a manufacture or corporations use their cash funds and we mean the finances of industrial subject, such usage may be realized as inside the manufacture or corporation (there is no subject about returning or not returning of the usage), so gratis under conditions of returning. This latest is called commercial form because of transmitting the sources to others, but even in this occasion, it is the element of financial system of the manufacture and corporation.

From the point of cash means movement, main character of credit is the process of formation and usage of the funds of cash means under the conditions of returning and, as a rule, taking the value-percentage. If gating the credit value doesn’t take place (even in the exceptional occasions), according to the movement form, credit becomes a private occasion of finances, as from the net financial funds (consequently from the state budget) the loans which bear no interests may be used. If gating credit value takes place, by the appearance form, credit is discussed to be financial modification.

From the historical point of view, finances (especially in the sort of the state budget) and credit (beginning with usury, later commercial and banking) were developing differently for considering credit to be the part of finances. Though, from the genetic-historical point of view, previous loaners, before giving loan, needed gathering the permanent capital not returning, that is the net financial foundation. The banks analogously needed concentration of the important own capital for influxing the consumers’ means and for getting higher percentage rate under the conditions of returning. Herewith, exactly on the financial basis, in the sort of financial fund (which later partially becomes loan fund) part of the bank capital appears to be the reservation (insurance) part of the fund, which by nature is financial and not loan. So notwithstanding the essential distinctions between finances and credit form the genetic-historical point of view, credit appears to be formed from finances and represent their modification.

From the essential position of expressing economical relations of finances and credit, we meet with cardinal distinctions between these two categories. Which mostly expressed by the distinction of the movement forms notwithstanding they are returnable or not. Finances express relations in the aspects of distribution and redistribution of social product and part of the national wealth. Credit expresses distribution of the appropriate value only in the section of percentage given for loan, while according to the loan itself, a only a temporal distribution of money sources takes place.
Herewith, there is a lot of common between the finances and credit as from the essential point of view, so according to the form of movement. At the same time, there is a significant distinction between finances and credit as in the essence, so in the form too. According to this, there must be a kind of generally economical category, which will consider finances and credit as a total unity, and in the bounds of this category itself, the separation of the specific essence of the finances and credit would take place.

Funding of the cash means is common to the researched economical categories. It takes place in any separate system of finances and credit, which have been touched upon during the analyses of defining finances and credit. Word combination “funding of the cash sources (fund formation)” reflects and defines exactly essence and form of economical category of more general character, those of finances and credit categories. Though in the in economical texts and practice, it is very uncomfortable to use a termini, which consists of three words. Also, “unloading” with an information hardens greatly its influxing into the circulation even in the conditions of its strict substantiation and thoroughness.
In the discussing context we consider:

1) wide and narrow understanding of economical category of the finances;

2) discussing finances in narrow understanding under general traditional meaning;

3) discussing finances, as funding of the cash means, in wide understanding, which concerns finances – in narrow meaning and credit – in complete meaning.
Termini “funding” and its equivalent “fund formation” are used by us as the purposeful structuring of cash means, which is based on two poles – accumulation of money sources (gathering) and its usage for definite purpose in the way of financing and crediting.
We have established a new termini – “finance-investment sphere” (FIS). Analyses about interrelation of finances and credit made by us give us an opportunity of proving, that in the given termini, the word “financial” is used with the meaning of funding cash sources, its purposeful structuring. In this process we consider at the same time financial, credit and investments’ economical categories.

Let’s sum up middle results of discussing new concept – “finance-investment sphere” and discuss its investment consisting parts.

The concept “investments” was brought into the native economical science from the West. In the Soviet economical science they for a long time used in the place “investments” the termini “capital placement”, which expressed the usage of the industrial factors in the sphere of real industrial activities during realization of capital projects. From one glance, this termini in its concept is identical to the “investments”, consequently it is possible to use them as synonyms. Though the termini “investments” and “investing” have the advantage towards the termini “capital placement” from linguistic and philological points of view, because they are expressed with one word. This is not only economical and comfortable in the process of working with the termini “investment” itself, but also it gives an opportunity of termini formation. More concretely: “investment process”, “investment domain”, “finance-investment sphere” – all these termini are much more acceptable.
Changing native economical termini with foreign ones is purposeful, if it really matters (by keeping parallel usage of the native termini for the inheritance). Though we must not change native economical termini into foreign ones all together, when by ordinal traditional language easy to explain private and narrow concrete processes and elements get their own termini. The “movement” of these termini is approved in the narrow professional bounds, but their “spitting out” into the economical science may turn economical language into the tangled slang.

Let’s discuss termini – “investment” and “capital placement’s” usage in the economical literature.
Investments are placement of funds into the main and circulation capital for the purpose of getting profit. “Investments in material assets – are the placements of funds into the mobile and real estate (land, buildings, furniture and so on). Investments in financial assets are the placements of funds into the securities bank accounts and other financial instruments”.

We don’t meet with the termini “investments” in the earlier economical dictionary, but we meet the combined termini “investment policy” – the union of the industrial decisions, which guarantee main directions of the capital investments, the activities of their concentration in the determinant suburbs, on which the reaching of planned rates of development of the society production is depended, balancing and effectiveness, getting more and more production and profit of the national income for every lost Ruble”. For today, in the most actual definitions, the capital investments are bounded only by financial means, when not only financial, but also the investment of natural, material-technical and informational resources takes place. Labour resources take an actual place in the investment process. They themselves fulfill this or that investment process.

A positive side of the discussed definitions is that they connect investment policy and capital placements (investments):

– economical development according to the key directions to the concentration;

– providing high rates of economical growth;

– raising an economical effectiveness, which is expressed:

a) by growing the throw off of the production and national income for every lost Ruble;

b) by fulfilling the branch structure of the investments;

c) by improving their technological structure;

d) by optimization of their further production structure.

Best in Class Finance Functions For Police Forces

Background

Police funding has risen by £4.8 billion and 77 per cent (39 per cent in real terms) since 1997. However the days where forces have enjoyed such levels of funding are over.

Chief Constables and senior management recognize that the annual cycle of looking for efficiencies year-on-year is not sustainable, and will not address the cash shortfall in years to come.
Facing slower funding growth and real cash deficits in their budgets, the Police Service must adopt innovative strategies which generate the productivity and efficiency gains needed to deliver high quality policing to the public.

The step-change in performance required to meet this challenge will only be achieved if the police service fully embraces effective resource management and makes efficient and productive use of its technology, partnerships and people.

The finance function has an essential role to play in addressing these challenges and supporting Forces’ objectives economically and efficiently.

Challenge

Police Forces tend to nurture a divisional and departmental culture rather than a corporate one, with individual procurement activities that do not exploit economies of scale. This is in part the result of over a decade of devolving functions from the center to the.divisions.

In order to reduce costs, improve efficiency and mitigate against the threat of “top down” mandatory, centrally-driven initiatives, Police Forces need to set up a corporate back office and induce behavioral change. This change must involve compliance with a corporate culture rather than a series of silos running through the organization.

Developing a Best in Class Finance Function

Traditionally finance functions within Police Forces have focused on transactional processing with only limited support for management information and business decision support. With a renewed focus on efficiencies, there is now a pressing need for finance departments to transform in order to add greater value to the force but with minimal costs.

1) Aligning to Force Strategy

As Police Forces need finance to function, it is imperative that finance and operations are closely aligned. This collaboration can be very powerful and help deliver significant improvements to a Force, but in order to achieve this model, there are many barriers to overcome. Finance Directors must look at whether their Force is ready for this collaboration, but more importantly, they must consider whether the Force itself can survive without it.

Finance requires a clear vision that centers around its role as a balanced business partner. However to achieve this vision a huge effort is required from the bottom up to understand the significant complexity in underlying systems and processes and to devise a way forward that can work for that particular organization.

The success of any change management program is dependent on its execution. Change is difficult and costly to execute correctly, and often, Police Forces lack the relevant experience to achieve such change. Although finance directors are required to hold appropriate professional qualifications (as opposed to being former police officers as was the case a few years ago) many have progressed within the Public Sector with limited opportunities for learning from and interaction with best in class methodologies. In addition cultural issues around self-preservation can present barriers to change.

Whilst it is relatively easy to get the message of finance transformation across, securing commitment to embark on bold change can be tough. Business cases often lack the quality required to drive through change and even where they are of exceptional quality senior police officers often lack the commercial awareness to trust them.

2) Supporting Force Decisions

Many Finance Directors are keen to develop their finance functions. The challenge they face is convincing the rest of the Force that the finance function can add value – by devoting more time and effort to financial analysis and providing senior management with the tools to understand the financial implications of major strategic decisions.

Maintaining Financial Controls and Managing Risk

Sarbanes Oxley, International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), Basel II and Individual Capital Assessments (ICA) have all put financial controls and reporting under the spotlight in the private sector. This in turn is increasing the spotlight on financial controls in the public sector.

A ‘Best in Class’ Police Force finance function will not just have the minimum controls to meet the regulatory requirements but will evaluate how the legislation and regulations that the finance function are required to comply with, can be leveraged to provide value to the organization. Providing strategic information that will enable the force to meet its objectives is a key task for a leading finance function.

3) Value to the Force

The drive for development over the last decade or so, has moved decision making to the Divisions and has led to an increase in costs in the finance function. Through utilizing a number of initiatives in a program of transformation, a Force can leverage up to 40% of savings on the cost of finance together with improving the responsiveness of finance teams and the quality of financial information. These initiatives include:

Centralization

By centralizing the finance function, a Police Force can create centers of excellence where industry best practice can be developed and shared. This will not only re-empower the department, creating greater independence and objectivity in assessing projects and performance, but also lead to more consistent management information and a higher degree of control. A Police Force can also develop a business partner group to act as strategic liaisons to departments and divisions. The business partners would, for example, advise on how the departmental and divisional commanders can meet the budget in future months instead of merely advising that the budget has been missed for the previous month.

With the mundane number crunching being performed in a shared service center, finance professionals will find they now have time to act as business partners to divisions and departments and focus on the strategic issues.

The cultural impact on the departments and divisional commanders should not be underestimated. Commanders will be concerned that:

o Their budgets will be centralized
o Workloads would increase
o There will be limited access to finance individuals
o There will not be on site support

However, if the centralized shared service center is designed appropriately none of the above should apply. In fact from centralization under a best practice model, leaders should accrue the following benefits:

o Strategic advice provided by business partners
o Increased flexibility
o Improved management information
o Faster transactions
o Reduced number of unresolved queries
o Greater clarity on service and cost of provision
o Forum for finance to be strategically aligned to the needs of the Force

A Force that moves from a de-centralized to a centralized system should try and ensure that the finance function does not lose touch with the Chief Constable and Divisional Commanders. Forces need to have a robust business case for finance transformation combined with a governance structure that spans operational, tactical and strategic requirements. There is a risk that potential benefits of implementing such a change may not be realized if the program is not carefully managed. Investment is needed to create a successful centralized finance function. Typically the future potential benefits of greater visibility and control, consistent processes, standardized management information, economies of scale, long-term cost savings and an empowered group of proud finance professionals, should outweigh those initial costs.

To reduce the commercial, operational and capability risks, the finance functions can be completely outsourced or partially outsourced to third parties. This will provide guaranteed cost benefits and may provide the opportunity to leverage relationships with vendors that provide best practice processes.

Process Efficiencies

Typically for Police Forces the focus on development has developed a silo based culture with disparate processes. As a result significant opportunities exist for standardization and simplification of processes which provide scalability, reduce manual effort and deliver business benefit. From simply rationalizing processes, a force can typically accrue a 40% reduction in the number of processes. An example of this is the use of electronic bank statements instead of using the manual bank statement for bank reconciliation and accounts receivable processes. This would save considerable effort that is involved in analyzing the data, moving the data onto different spreadsheet and inputting the data into the financial systems.

Organizations that possess a silo operating model tend to have significant inefficiencies and duplication in their processes, for example in HR and Payroll. This is largely due to the teams involved meeting their own goals but not aligning to the corporate objectives of an organization. Police Forces have a number of independent teams that are reliant on one another for data with finance in departments, divisions and headquarters sending and receiving information from each other as well as from the rest of the Force. The silo model leads to ineffective data being received by the teams that then have to carry out additional work to obtain the information required.

Whilst the argument for development has been well made in the context of moving decision making closer to operational service delivery, the added cost in terms of resources, duplication and misaligned processes has rarely featured in the debate. In the current financial climate these costs need to be recognized.

Culture

Within transactional processes, a leading finance function will set up targets for staff members on a daily basis. This target setting is an element of the metric based culture that leading finance functions develop. If the appropriate metrics of productivity and quality are applied and when these targets are challenging but not impossible, this is proven to result in improvements to productivity and quality.

A ‘Best in Class’ finance function in Police Forces will have a service focused culture, with the primary objectives of providing a high level of satisfaction for its customers (departments, divisions, employees & suppliers). A ‘Best in Class’ finance function will measure customer satisfaction on a timely basis through a metric based approach. This will be combined with a team wide focus on process improvement, with process owners, that will not necessarily be the team leads, owning force-wide improvement to each of the finance processes.

Organizational Improvements

Organizational structures within Police Forces are typically made up of supervisors leading teams of one to four team members. Through centralizing and consolidating the finance function, an opportunity exists to increase the span of control to best practice levels of 6 to 8 team members to one team lead / supervisor. By adjusting the organizational structure and increasing the span of control, Police Forces can accrue significant cashable benefit from a reduction in the number of team leads and team leads can accrue better management experience from managing larger teams.

Alternative Financing Vs. Venture Capital: Which Option Is Best for Boosting Working Capital?

There are several potential financing options available to cash-strapped businesses that need a healthy dose of working capital. A bank loan or line of credit is often the first option that owners think of – and for businesses that qualify, this may be the best option.

In today’s uncertain business, economic and regulatory environment, qualifying for a bank loan can be difficult – especially for start-up companies and those that have experienced any type of financial difficulty. Sometimes, owners of businesses that don’t qualify for a bank loan decide that seeking venture capital or bringing on equity investors are other viable options.

But are they really? While there are some potential benefits to bringing venture capital and so-called “angel” investors into your business, there are drawbacks as well. Unfortunately, owners sometimes don’t think about these drawbacks until the ink has dried on a contract with a venture capitalist or angel investor – and it’s too late to back out of the deal.

Different Types of Financing

One problem with bringing in equity investors to help provide a working capital boost is that working capital and equity are really two different types of financing.

Working capital – or the money that is used to pay business expenses incurred during the time lag until cash from sales (or accounts receivable) is collected – is short-term in nature, so it should be financed via a short-term financing tool. Equity, however, should generally be used to finance rapid growth, business expansion, acquisitions or the purchase of long-term assets, which are defined as assets that are repaid over more than one 12-month business cycle.

But the biggest drawback to bringing equity investors into your business is a potential loss of control. When you sell equity (or shares) in your business to venture capitalists or angels, you are giving up a percentage of ownership in your business, and you may be doing so at an inopportune time. With this dilution of ownership most often comes a loss of control over some or all of the most important business decisions that must be made.

Sometimes, owners are enticed to sell equity by the fact that there is little (if any) out-of-pocket expense. Unlike debt financing, you don’t usually pay interest with equity financing. The equity investor gains its return via the ownership stake gained in your business. But the long-term “cost” of selling equity is always much higher than the short-term cost of debt, in terms of both actual cash cost as well as soft costs like the loss of control and stewardship of your company and the potential future value of the ownership shares that are sold.

Alternative Financing Solutions

But what if your business needs working capital and you don’t qualify for a bank loan or line of credit? Alternative financing solutions are often appropriate for injecting working capital into businesses in this situation. Three of the most common types of alternative financing used by such businesses are:

1. Full-Service Factoring – Businesses sell outstanding accounts receivable on an ongoing basis to a commercial finance (or factoring) company at a discount. The factoring company then manages the receivable until it is paid. Factoring is a well-established and accepted method of temporary alternative finance that is especially well-suited for rapidly growing companies and those with customer concentrations.

2. Accounts Receivable (A/R) Financing – A/R financing is an ideal solution for companies that are not yet bankable but have a stable financial condition and a more diverse customer base. Here, the business provides details on all accounts receivable and pledges those assets as collateral. The proceeds of those receivables are sent to a lockbox while the finance company calculates a borrowing base to determine the amount the company can borrow. When the borrower needs money, it makes an advance request and the finance company advances money using a percentage of the accounts receivable.

3. Asset-Based Lending (ABL) – This is a credit facility secured by all of a company’s assets, which may include A/R, equipment and inventory. Unlike with factoring, the business continues to manage and collect its own receivables and submits collateral reports on an ongoing basis to the finance company, which will review and periodically audit the reports.

In addition to providing working capital and enabling owners to maintain business control, alternative financing may provide other benefits as well:

It’s easy to determine the exact cost of financing and obtain an increase.
Professional collateral management can be included depending on the facility type and the lender.
Real-time, online interactive reporting is often available.
It may provide the business with access to more capital.
It’s flexible – financing ebbs and flows with the business’ needs.

It’s important to note that there are some circumstances in which equity is a viable and attractive financing solution. This is especially true in cases of business expansion and acquisition and new product launches – these are capital needs that are not generally well suited to debt financing. However, equity is not usually the appropriate financing solution to solve a working capital problem or help plug a cash-flow gap.

A Precious Commodity

Remember that business equity is a precious commodity that should only be considered under the right circumstances and at the right time. When equity financing is sought, ideally this should be done at a time when the company has good growth prospects and a significant cash need for this growth. Ideally, majority ownership (and thus, absolute control) should remain with the company founder(s).

Alternative financing solutions like factoring, A/R financing and ABL can provide the working capital boost many cash-strapped businesses that don’t qualify for bank financing need – without diluting ownership and possibly giving up business control at an inopportune time for the owner. If and when these companies become bankable later, it’s often an easy transition to a traditional bank line of credit. Your banker may be able to refer you to a commercial finance company that can offer the right type of alternative financing solution for your particular situation.

Taking the time to understand all the different financing options available to your business, and the pros and cons of each, is the best way to make sure you choose the best option for your business. The use of alternative financing can help your company grow without diluting your ownership. After all, it’s your business – shouldn’t you keep as much of it as possible?

Sources of Business Finance

Sources of business finance can be studied under the following heads:

(1) Short Term Finance:

Short-term finance is needed to fulfill the current needs of business. The current needs may include payment of taxes, salaries or wages, repair expenses, payment to creditor etc. The need for short term finance arises because sales revenues and purchase payments are not perfectly same at all the time. Sometimes sales can be low as compared to purchases. Further sales may be on credit while purchases are on cash. So short term finance is needed to match these disequilibrium.

Sources of short term finance are as follows:

(i) Bank Overdraft: Bank overdraft is very widely used source of business finance. Under this client can draw certain sum of money over and above his original account balance. Thus it is easier for the businessman to meet short term unexpected expenses.

(ii) Bill Discounting: Bills of exchange can be discounted at the banks. This provides cash to the holder of the bill which can be used to finance immediate needs.

(iii) Advances from Customers: Advances are primarily demanded and received for the confirmation of orders However, these are also used as source of financing the operations necessary to execute the job order.

(iv) Installment Purchases: Purchasing on installment gives more time to make payments. The deferred payments are used as a source of financing small expenses which are to be paid immediately.

(v) Bill of Lading: Bill of lading and other export and import documents are used as a guarantee to take loan from banks and that loan amount can be used as finance for a short time period.

(vi) Financial Institutions: Different financial institutions also help businessmen to get out of financial difficulties by providing short-term loans. Certain co-operative societies can arrange short term financial assistance for businessmen.

(vii) Trade Credit: It is the usual practice of the businessmen to buy raw material, store and spares on credit. Such transactions result in increasing accounts payable of the business which are to be paid after a certain time period. Goods are sold on cash and payment is made after 30, 60, or 90 days. This allows some freedom to businessmen in meeting financial difficulties.

(2) Medium Term Finance:

This finance is required to meet the medium term (1-5 years) requirements of the business. Such finances are basically required for the balancing, modernization and replacement of machinery and plant. These are also needed for re-engineering of the organization. They aid the management in completing medium term capital projects within planned time. Following are the sources of medium term finance:

(i) Commercial Banks: Commercial banks are the major source of medium term finance. They provide loans for different time-period against appropriate securities. At the termination of terms the loan can be re-negotiated, if required.

(ii) Hire Purchase: Hire purchase means buying on installments. It allows the business house to have the required goods with payments to be made in future in agreed installment. Needless to say that some interest is always charged on outstanding amount.

(iii) Financial Institutions: Several financial institutions such as SME Bank, Industrial Development Bank, etc., also provide medium and long-term finances. Besides providing finance they also provide technical and managerial assistance on different matters.

(iv) Debentures and TFCs: Debentures and TFCs (Terms Finance Certificates) are also used as a source of medium term finances. Debentures is an acknowledgement of loan from the company. It can be of any duration as agreed among the parties. The debenture holder enjoys return at a fixed rate of interest. Under Islamic mode of financing debentures has been replaced by TFCs.

(v) Insurance Companies: Insurance companies have a large pool of funds contributed by their policy holders. Insurance companies grant loans and make investments out of this pool. Such loans are the source of medium term financing for various businesses.

(3) Long Term Finance:

Long term finances are those that are required on permanent basis or for more than five years tenure. They are basically desired to meet structural changes in business or for heavy modernization expenses. These are also needed to initiate a new business plan or for a long term developmental projects. Following are its sources:

(i) Equity Shares: This method is most widely used all over the world to raise long term finance. Equity shares are subscribed by public to generate the capital base of a large scale business. The equity share holders shares the profit and loss of the business. This method is safe and secured, in a sense that amount once received is only paid back at the time of wounding up of the company.

(ii) Retained Earnings: Retained earnings are the reserves which are generated from the excess profits. In times of need they can be used to finance the business project. This is also called ploughing back of profits.

(iii) Leasing: Leasing is also a source of long term finance. With the help of leasing, new equipment can be acquired without any heavy outflow of cash.

(iv) Financial Institutions: Different financial institutions such as former PICIC also provide long term loans to business houses.

(v) Debentures: Debentures and Participation Term Certificates are also used as a source of long term financing.

Alternative Financing for Wholesale Produce Distributors

Equipment Financing/Leasing

One avenue is equipment financing/leasing. Equipment lessors help small and medium size businesses obtain equipment financing and equipment leasing when it is not available to them through their local community bank.

The goal for a distributor of wholesale produce is to find a leasing company that can help with all of their financing needs. Some financiers look at companies with good credit while some look at companies with bad credit. Some financiers look strictly at companies with very high revenue (10 million or more). Other financiers focus on small ticket transaction with equipment costs below $100,000.

Financiers can finance equipment costing as low as 1000.00 and up to 1 million. Businesses should look for competitive lease rates and shop for equipment lines of credit, sale-leasebacks & credit application programs. Take the opportunity to get a lease quote the next time you’re in the market.

Merchant Cash Advance

It is not very typical of wholesale distributors of produce to accept debit or credit from their merchants even though it is an option. However, their merchants need money to buy the produce. Merchants can do merchant cash advances to buy your produce, which will increase your sales.

Factoring/Accounts Receivable Financing & Purchase Order Financing

One thing is certain when it comes to factoring or purchase order financing for wholesale distributors of produce: The simpler the transaction is the better because PACA comes into play. Each individual deal is looked at on a case-by-case basis.

Is PACA a Problem? Answer: The process has to be unraveled to the grower.

Factors and P.O. financers do not lend on inventory. Let’s assume that a distributor of produce is selling to a couple local supermarkets. The accounts receivable usually turns very quickly because produce is a perishable item. However, it depends on where the produce distributor is actually sourcing. If the sourcing is done with a larger distributor there probably won’t be an issue for accounts receivable financing and/or purchase order financing. However, if the sourcing is done through the growers directly, the financing has to be done more carefully.

An even better scenario is when a value-add is involved. Example: Somebody is buying green, red and yellow bell peppers from a variety of growers. They’re packaging these items up and then selling them as packaged items. Sometimes that value added process of packaging it, bulking it and then selling it will be enough for the factor or P.O. financer to look at favorably. The distributor has provided enough value-add or altered the product enough where PACA does not necessarily apply.

Another example might be a distributor of produce taking the product and cutting it up and then packaging it and then distributing it. There could be potential here because the distributor could be selling the product to large supermarket chains – so in other words the debtors could very well be very good. How they source the product will have an impact and what they do with the product after they source it will have an impact. This is the part that the factor or P.O. financer will never know until they look at the deal and this is why individual cases are touch and go.

What can be done under a purchase order program?

P.O. financers like to finance finished goods being dropped shipped to an end customer. They are better at providing financing when there is a single customer and a single supplier.

Let’s say a produce distributor has a bunch of orders and sometimes there are problems financing the product. The P.O. Financer will want someone who has a big order (at least $50,000.00 or more) from a major supermarket. The P.O. financer will want to hear something like this from the produce distributor: ” I buy all the product I need from one grower all at once that I can have hauled over to the supermarket and I don’t ever touch the product. I am not going to take it into my warehouse and I am not going to do anything to it like wash it or package it. The only thing I do is to obtain the order from the supermarket and I place the order with my grower and my grower drop ships it over to the supermarket. ”

This is the ideal scenario for a P.O. financer. There is one supplier and one buyer and the distributor never touches the inventory. It is an automatic deal killer (for P.O. financing and not factoring) when the distributor touches the inventory. The P.O. financer will have paid the grower for the goods so the P.O. financer knows for sure the grower got paid and then the invoice is created. When this happens the P.O. financer might do the factoring as well or there might be another lender in place (either another factor or an asset-based lender). P.O. financing always comes with an exit strategy and it is always another lender or the company that did the P.O. financing who can then come in and factor the receivables.

The exit strategy is simple: When the goods are delivered the invoice is created and then someone has to pay back the purchase order facility. It is a little easier when the same company does the P.O. financing and the factoring because an inter-creditor agreement does not have to be made.

Sometimes P.O. financing can’t be done but factoring can be.

Let’s say the distributor buys from different growers and is carrying a bunch of different products. The distributor is going to warehouse it and deliver it based on the need for their clients. This would be ineligible for P.O. financing but not for factoring (P.O. Finance companies never want to finance goods that are going to be placed into their warehouse to build up inventory). The factor will consider that the distributor is buying the goods from different growers. Factors know that if growers don’t get paid it is like a mechanics lien for a contractor. A lien can be put on the receivable all the way up to the end buyer so anyone caught in the middle does not have any rights or claims.

The idea is to make sure that the suppliers are being paid because PACA was created to protect the farmers/growers in the United States. Further, if the supplier is not the end grower then the financer will not have any way to know if the end grower gets paid.

Example: A fresh fruit distributor is buying a big inventory. Some of the inventory is converted into fruit cups/cocktails. They’re cutting up and packaging the fruit as fruit juice and family packs and selling the product to a large supermarket. In other words they have almost altered the product completely. Factoring can be considered for this type of scenario. The product has been altered but it is still fresh fruit and the distributor has provided a value-add.