Diversification has arguably become the biggest buzzword to hit the third-party channel – and it’s one that certainly isn’t a phase. It’s been around a while, and it’s not going anywhere soon.
It seems everywhere you turn, aggregators and brokerages are pushing their partners to add another new revenue stream to their belt, with the rise of commercial and specialist lending brokers anything but subtle.
But what about debtor finance?
Debtor finance is a financing facility that assists businesses in managing its cash flow requirements, and is particularly handy for SME clients, according to Deloitte’s senior analyst, forensic, Chris Wood.
“In simple terms, the financier lends cash to a business based on the value of its accounts receivable ledger,” he says.
“This provides the business with the benefits of cash from a credit sale sooner.”
This relatively untapped playing field has some brokers reaping the benefits, with their businesses experiencing not only a rise in profit but increased customer satisfaction and loyalty rates.
To grasp the full impact of how diversifying into debtor finance can drive your business, The Adviser spoke to three brokers who have recently done so with The Invoice Market and haven’t looked back.
Cheryl Green, Money It Is
Wanting to offer her clients a more holistic service, Ms Green decided to incorporate debtor finance into her product suite just over a month ago.
“We have the attitude in our business that if we don’t diversify and continually diversify someone else will,” she says.
The decision came easy for her, she says, after realising that there was a distinct demand in the marketplace for debtor finance solutions.
“We’re commercial brokers so therefore the majority of our clients are business owners and we find that usually the number one issue that a lot of business owners face is cash flow, or lack thereof – therefore it makes sense for us to be able to offer a solution to our clients,” Ms Green explains.
“100 per cent there’s a need in the market for it.”
Since choosing to operate in this space, Ms Green says client feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.
“For us it’s always about coming up with a solution, we’re not necessarily interest rate focused.
“Instead, we’re focused on the best solution for that type of client scenario and that’s why [debtor finance] works in well with our business.
“I have to say the clients are extremely happy that we’re coming up with a solution that meets their needs.”
To target and attract debtor finance clients, Ms Green looks to her existing database but also isn’t afraid to go outside the box.
“I think business development is something where it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been in the industry, it’s something that you definitely have to continue to do,” she says.
“We don’t hesitate, if need be, to make those cold calls, however, it’s always better to do some business development strategies so that you get some good referral forces on board in your business. For example: financial planners, accountants, solicitors and our existing clientele as well.
“We can look at those existing clients and we’ll make phone calls from our database and say, ‘hey, this is a new offering and solution that may meet your needs in your business’.”
Greg Telfer, Sivart Consulting
Mr Telfer has been a commercial broker for eight years now and fell into the debtor finance market by chance.
“I saw a whole bunch of people getting into a whole heap of trouble simply because of slow-paying debtors,” he says.
“They were taking out things like second mortgages and short-term loans at tremendous interest rates just to try and get by on a month-to-month basis.
“I thought there had to be a solution that stayed away from all these sorts of things and that’s when I stumbled across The Invoice Market.”
Mr Telfer says he appreciates and works with funders like The Invoice Market regularly as they provide his clients a solution that the big banks cannot.
“What particularly impressed me about The Invoice Market is there is no security taken,” he says.
“A lot of these people I talk to are small business owners so they can’t go into NAB and say, ‘give me this, give me that, give me an overdraft’. They are limited to what they can do in the traditional banking circles.
“What The Invoice Market does, with its ability to do casual invoice sales – for lack of a better word – is gives these people an opportunity to get the money they need without it affecting their existing banking relationships.”
Mr Telfer says the wins he’s received by diversifying into debtor finance are tenfold.
“One is obviously I get paid and that’s a given but what it does for me personally is it cements that I’m not putting people into a product that is going to bite them in the bum at the end of the day,” he says.
“At The Invoice Market [clients] come and go as they please, there are no fees, there are no charges, there are no audit fees, there’s nothing to contract them.”
Mr Telfer says while he has found some of his existing clients fit the debtor finance mould, he’s currently choosing to look outside his database.
“I have an existing database that I do all sorts of lending for but predominately where my business model is a bit different is in that I don’t churn my clients,” he explains.
“The moment they’re in a product that suits them, they don’t see me until they ring me up and say they’ve got another issue they need to get rid of.”
John Uittenbogaard, John Uittenbogaard Financial Services
After returning to the industry from a “three year spell”, Mr Uittenbogaard decided to work with The Invoice Market after the company was introduced to him via a friend.
“When I went on to tim.’s website it soon became apparent that it was basically like the Uber of debtor finance industry,” he says.
“It had appealed to me with its flexibility … and it added a whole new dimension for my business going forward.”
Mr Uittenbogaard says the thing he enjoys most about this new revenue stream is helping his existing and new clients get what they need in order to stay strong in the tough SME market.
“I very much like dealing with directors, CFOs and people on the floor to find out about their business and what makes them tick as well as what problems they’re facing,” he says.
“When I was 21 I had 80 people working for me so I know what it’s like to have slow paying debtors and I can tell you from first-hand experience that there are a lot of sleepless nights.
“So it’s something that I can really relate to and I want to help SMEs with a potential solution.”
With SMEs representing around 97 per cent of all Australian businesses, Mr Uittenbogaard says that there’s an immense opportunity for more brokers to operate in the debtor finance space.
He notes that many of these smaller companies require a solution that doesn’t always meet traditional lending criteria.
“After they’ve done the research I think it would certainly be an invaluable additional income stream. Just dealing with their own network and offering other solutions to them could be invaluable,” he says.
However, brokers who do delve into debtor finance need to be knowledgeable and best positioned to offer advice in this area, according to Mr Uittenbogaard.
“People who are looking to enter this space have to do their research,” he says.
“Check what else is out there and see, like I did very quickly, how well tim. compares.
“We had a training session about three weeks ago and just hearing about how rigorous their process is [proves] this company is going to be around for a long time so that gives me, and potentially other brokers who are considering entering this space, a lot of confidence.”
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