Commercial Financing – The Benefits of Off-Balance-Sheet Financing

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There are two different categories of commercial financing from an accounting perspective: on-balance-sheet financing and off-balance-sheet financing. Understanding the difference can be critical to obtaining the right type of commercial financing for your company.

Put simply, on-balance-sheet financing is commercial financing in which capital expenditures appear as a liability on a company’s balance sheet. Commercial loans are the most common example: Typically, a company will leverage an asset (such as accounts receivable) in order to borrow money from a bank, thus creating a liability (i.e., the outstanding loan) that must be reported as such on the balance sheet.

With off-balance-sheet financing, however, liabilities do not have to be reported because no debt or equity is created. The most common form of off-balance-sheet financing is an operating lease, in which the company makes a small down payment upfront and then monthly lease payments. When the lease term is up, the company can usually buy the asset for a minimal amount (often just one dollar).

The key difference is that with an operating lease, the asset stays on the lessor’s balance sheet. The lessee only reports the expense associated with the use of the asset (i.e., the rental payments), not the cost of the asset itself.

Why Does It Matter?

This might sound like technical accounting-speak that only a CPA could appreciate. In the continuing tight credit environment, however, off-balance-sheet financing can offer significant benefits to any size company, from large multi-nationals to mom-and-pops.

These benefits arise from the fact that off-balance-sheet financing creates liquidity for a business while avoiding leverage, thus improving the overall financial picture of the company. This can help companies keep their debt-to-equity ratio low: If a company is already leveraged, additional debt might trip a covenant to an existing loan.

The trade-off is that off-balance-sheet financing is usually more expensive than traditional on-balance-sheet loans. Business owners should work closely with their CPAs to determine whether the benefits of off-balance-sheet financing outweigh the costs in their specific situation.

Other Types of Off-Balance-Sheet Financing

An increasingly popular type of off-balance-sheet financing today is what’s known as a sale/leaseback. Here, a business sells property it owns and then immediately leases it back from the new owner. It can be used with virtually any type of fixed asset, including commercial real estate, equipment and commercial vehicles and aircraft, to name a few.

A sale/leaseback can increase a company’s financial flexibility and may provide a large lump sum of cash by freeing up the equity in the asset. This cash can then be poured back into the business to support growth, pay down debt, acquire another business, or meet working capital needs.

Factoring is another type of off-balance-sheet financing. Here, a business sells its outstanding accounts receivable to a commercial finance company, or “factor.” Typically, the factor will advance the business between 70 and 90 percent of the value of the receivable at the time of purchase; the balance, less the factoring fee, is released when the invoice is collected.

Like with an operating lease, no debt is created with factoring, thus enabling companies to create liquidity while avoiding additional leverage. The same kinds of off-balance-sheet benefits occur in both factoring arrangements and operating leases.

Keep in mind that strict accounting rules must be followed when it comes to properly distinguishing between on-balance-sheet and off-balance-sheet financing, so you should work closely with your CPA in this regard. But with the continued uncertainty surrounding the economy and credit markets, it’s worth looking into the potential benefits of off-balance-sheet financing for your company.

Understanding Car Financing

When you want to purchase a car, one of the main considerations is financing. This is because many people do not have the initial high amounts of money, which are required to meet the cost of the car. One thing you should note about Car financing is that it is very hard to quantify, it is determined by many other factors such as the type of car that you want to purchase, the price tag and the possibility of a trade-in. All these mean that you will be offered different finance packages by different organizations, and it is your duty to choose the most appropriate one.

The best way to approach car financing

With all the factors involved, Car financing becomes a very complicated issue, which needs proper understanding of the financial world. Since most of us do not posses such skills or information, the best approach would be to involve the services of a car finance broker. The broker will assist you in all the areas associated with car financing. Remember car financing, just as any other form of financing will require various paperwork. In most cases, people are already overwhelmed by their daily lives, it is therefore better to leave the broker to fulfill the formalities helping you secure the loan.

Some people obviously benefit more than others do from this arrangement. One of the groups that will benefit mostly from the services of a car-financing broker is those who are self-employed. This is because most of them cannot produce satisfactory historical profit figures to satisfy the financial provider. The duty of the broker is therefore to find institutions, which are more likely to offer better terms. The broker is also going to help you negotiate for better terms just like those offered to people who provide sufficient history of profitable trading.

Since car financing brokers deal in only one type of financial product, they have a clear understanding regarding the product. They also use specialized tools such as car loan calculators, which will help you, understand the long-term effects of the loan that you take. Remember a loan might seem cheap now but present adverse effects later on. You will therefore enjoy more piece of mind depending on the advice provided by such specialists.

Apart from using the services of a broker, you can also source your car financing online. This method presents you with various banking institutions to source your financing from. In order to exploit this dimension fully, you need to have a clear understanding of what sort of deal you are getting into. Luckily, there are certain tools, which you can utilize to help you gain a deeper understanding of the loan you are acquiring. They include:

• Car finance calculator- this will help you get a clear picture of what you will be paying every month. It will also help you understand how long it will take before you can repay the loan.

• Chattel mortgage calculator- you can also utilize this calculator, which acts the same as the car finance calculator but on terms, attached to chattel mortgages rather than general loans.