Posted on 5/11/2021
Banking & Finance
For many business owners and operators, investing in new or upgraded equipment and technology can be a key driver of growth that will allow you to take your operations to the next level. So, when considering any kind of business loan, such as equipment finance, exploring all the options available at the best available rate can be a daunting task. Here are some tips to help smooth the lending experience and position you to get the most out of your providers.
The most common product for financing assets such as motor vehicles, fit-outs or gaming machines is an equipment finance facility.
Under this arrangement, usually with a bank, your business owns the asset, while the lender holds it as security in the event of default.
An alternative to this is entering into a hire arrangement or operating lease with a lender. This kind of arrangement may potentially provide you with additional flexibility to own or upgrade the asset at the end of a lease or hire term.
Effectively, you rent the item of equipment from the lender at an agreed rate for an agreed period, after which you can either choose to return it, purchase it outright by paying the remaining balance, or refinance the remaining balance over a further term.
“It really depends on your individual circumstances and the type of asset you’re after as to which will be the right option. It may be that for something like a vehicle, you want to enter into an operating lease arrangement, which will provide you with greater flexibility to upgrade in the future, while certain plant and equipment might have a longer useful life and could better fit the profile of an equipment loan or an equipment finance facility.”
However, as Bruce notes, the eligibility of certain assets will depend on the individual lender and type of finance arrangement you seek.
“Certain assets may not be eligible for finance. For this reason, it is always best to discuss the assets and the funding you need to acquire those assets with a commercial finance broker who will have access to a wide variety of lenders and be able to assess the most suitable option for your business,” he says.
“Funding the cost to purchase plant and equipment is no different to any other key business decision – you really need to do your research and take the time to investigate the best option.”
Another important factor to consider is the impact on the profit and the Earnings Before Interest, Tax, Depreciation and Amortisation (EBITDA), as different facility structures can lead to different outcomes. For example, for those businesses that have facilities that exceed $3 million, the lender may consider implementing financial covenants based on the EBITDA. In such cases, an equipment finance lease may be more preferable to an operating lease. This is because the interest cost of the equipment finance lease does not impact EBITDA whereas the operating lease payment will impact EBITDA.
Dealing with lenders can be a time-consuming process and the back and forth can take hours and days of your time – time that many would argue, is better spent focusing on your business operations.
This is where it can be potentially beneficial to engage the services of a finance broker. With access to many lenders, a broker can manage the entire process on your behalf, making sure that the process of negotiating finance is as painless and efficient as possible. This includes sourcing and assessing rates, terms and facilities from a wide network of lenders. A seasoned commercial finance broker is well positioned to give advice on which equipment finance options are best suited to your business, taking into account all aspects of your current situation.
When it comes to securing a loan for your business, there are a lot of steps you need to take to apply for and successfully acquire finance without delay. Having an expert to assist you with the process to ensure you have submitted all the necessary supporting documents can be key to a seamless lending process.
Importantly, an experienced finance broker is also across the detail, so you don’t have to be. They help ensure that you don’t get caught out by any unexpected clauses or conditions which could impact the overall cost during and at the end of the finance term.
Getting transparency and access to great loan facilities can be limited to the scope of your current network. Researching other lending options with competitor banks and also expanding your search to include reputable fin-tech lenders can help to surface a greater number of options.
Many of our clients have found that banking options can rely heavily on pre-existing relationships, so gaining the same level of transparency and insight from banks and other financiers that you may not have dealt with in the past can be challenging. Even if you are at the stage of shopping around, this is a scenario where speaking to other business owners, or cutting down the research time by engaging a finance broker with a dedicated team focused on equipment finance facilities, can be to your advantage.
“So much of what is negotiable and available with lenders, especially the big four banks, can come down to personal relationships within the bank. This is such a critical part of getting the workflows right,” shares Bruce.
“You can very quickly understand a lot about a commercial finance broker’s ability to get access to equipment loans quickly, and at the best available rate, based on their work experience and time in the industry.”
In a highly competitive lending market, there are many options available for business owners seeking finance. It can, however, be an incredibly time-consuming process to seek out the best rate from so many different lenders.
Where possible, a savvy broker should be able to work with you to ask for the information once and extrapolate from that the needs of all the various lenders that they will research for your equipment loan. Casting the net wide with the variety of lenders now available to the commercial market should not equate to multiplying the workload if you can help it.
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