Top 4 recruitment factoring companies for UK small businesses

Recruitment factoring can really help you balance the books if you’re running a recruitment agency. Discover how it works, and our pick of the UK’s best recruitment factoring companies.

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With so many costs to consider (everything from office space to invoice factoring to marketing expenses), cash flow is a huge headache for recruitment businesses. Recruitment factoring can really help, but it’s not always easy to work out which company is the right fit for your recruitment business.

Luckily, help is at hand, we’ve harnessed our 20 years of small business experience and taken an in-depth look at the recruitment factoring companies operating in the UK.

Here’s the cream of the crop:

  • Sonovate – This slick, flexible and transparent provider is a perfect partner for recruitment SMEs, and includes bad debt protection as standard.
  • Bibby Financial Services – Bibby has decades of experience and a hard-earned reputation for great customer service, making them a great fit for any recruitment business with big ambitions.
  • Calverton Finance – This lender has been funding recruitment businesses since 2006, and has an experienced team that is used to working with small businesses.
  • Hitachi Capital UK – One of the UK’s largest invoice finance companies, Hitachi Capital offers a six-month no obligation trial period, as well as a relationship management team that will visit your business in person.

For some expert assistance in finding your perfect recruitment factoring partner, simply tell us a bit about your business to receive bespoke quotes from some of the UK’s leading recruitment factoring companies.

Or, continue reading to get loads more insight into the companies listed above, plus advice on how to choose a recruitment factoring company, how the factoring process works, and how much it costs.

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The UK’s best recruitment factoring companies

There are lots of options out there when it comes to recruitment factoring, but our pick of the top four UK recruitment finance firms includes Sonovat, Bibby Financial Services, Calverton Finance and Hitachi Capital.

All have strong track records, and a well-developed recruitment finance offering (including recruitment factoring and recruitment discounting).


Sonovate White Logo (Recruitment Factoring)

  • Exclusively dedicated to recruitment finance
  • 30-day rolling contracts
  • Comprehensive cloud-based recruitment solution

Sononvate has grown rapidly since it was founded in 2012. By 2015, it had claimed the ninth spot in that year’s Startups 100, and it has only continued to expand, surpassing the £1bn mark in terms of invoice value funded.

Why? Well, in an industry that can be plagued by financial jargon and unclear terms, Sonovate prides itself on flexibility and transparency. You’ll only pay one fee (a percentage of your turnover), bad debt protection is included as standard, and you’re free to get invoice finance on as many or as few clients as you wish. Once you’re signed up, you’ll be paid 100% of invoice profit the same week a timesheet is approved.

Moreover, Sonovate’s slick cloud-based solution takes care of almost everything, including credit control, online timesheets, invoicing, and contractor payroll, leaving you more time to get on with actual recruitment. It’s also committed to helping recruitment businesses of all sizes, making it a perfect partner for recruitment SMEs.

Verdict – Sonovate is a great fit for startup recruitment businesses that want a comprehensive, flexible and transparent solution.

Bibby Financial Services

Bibby Financial Services Logo (Recruitment Factoring)

  • Over 35 years of experience funding SMEs
  • One-fee structure
  • Access to cash within 24 hours

Bibby Financial Services is one of the UK’s largest invoice finance companies (and one of our favourite invoice factoring companies), and has decades of business funding experience.

Its recruitment finance offering is also well established – Bibby has been working with RSM Employer Services (the UK’s largest bill and pay provider) for 10 years, and therefore provides both recruitment finance and back-office support.

Like Sonovate, Bibby has a one-fee structure and one-month rolling contracts, as well as an online platform that lets you check your funding 24/7. Once your recruitment finance facility is up and running, you’ll get access to up to 100% of invoice value within 24 hours of approval, as well as optional bad debt protection.

Beyond this though, Bibby distinguishes itself with a relationship-based approach that takes advantage of its 19 UK offices, and its experienced employees (many of whom have previously worked in recruitment agencies). This commitment to customer service is reflected in Bibby’s excellent Trustpilot score of 4.5 from just under 400 reviews (note that this is for the overall company, and not recruitment finance specific).

Verdict – Bibby has a great track record and first-class customer service – ideal if you want a funding partner that has stood the test of time.

Calverton Finance

Calverton Finance logo

  • Over 20 years of business funding experience
  • Offers recruitment factoring and recruitment invoice discounting
  • One-fee structure

Milton Keynes-based Calverton Finance has been funding both SMEs and recruitment businesses for a long time – the company was founded in 1998 and launched PayFactory, its comprehensive recruitment finance and back office solution, in 2006.

As well as PayFactory, which combines payroll, invoicing, collections, and finance, Calverton offers standalone recruitment factoring and discounting – perfect if you already have solid processes in place, and just need to unlock the value of your unpaid invoices.

In terms of finance, Calverton promises to advance up to 90% of invoice value on the day an invoice is raised, and the company charges a single fee that is a set percentage of the value of the invoices being factored/discounted.

It is open to recruitment businesses of any size, and has an experienced team in place to help young recruitment SMEs.

Verdict – Calverton Finance’s standalone recruitment factoring/discounting service is an attractive option for large recruitment businesses that have their own payroll and collections services in place.

Hitachi Capital UK

Hitachi Capital Recruitment Factoring

  • 6-month trial period
  • Integration with Sage Payroll
  • Over 35 years of experience

Hitachi Capital has been funding recruitment businesses for decades, and is one of the UK’s largest invoice finance companies.

Like Calverton, it offers both standalone recruitment factoring/discounting, and a full-service option that has full integration with Sage Payroll and takes care of payroll, invoicing, and collections, as well as finance.

Hitachi pays up to 100% of net or 90% of gross invoice value, while a CHOCCS (Client Handles Own Credit Control) option is available for recruitment businesses that want to continue to chase payments themselves and maintain their existing relationships. Bad debt protection is optional.

Where Hitachi really stands out is the fact that it offers a unique six-month trial period, so you can see if recruitment finance is the right choice for your business. This has no obligation, so you’re free to walk away at any point. This is followed by a six-month rolling contract.

The other thing that characterises Hitachi is a personal and supportive approach – including a relationship management team that will visit you in person and share the benefits of their experience. It’s therefore no surprise that Hitachi boasts an excellent 4.8 rating on Trustpilot from 447 reviews (again, this is for the company as a whole, and not recruitment finance specific).

Verdict – Hitachi is an experienced lender that knows recruitment inside out, and its unique six-month trial means it’s the perfect way to see how recruitment factoring could help your business.

Choosing a recruitment factoring company

If you’re considering recruitment factoring or recruitment discounting, always remember that what you’re really looking for is a long-term partner for your company – one who understands how you work and can help you succeed.

Make sure you carefully compare different companies, and always bear in mind just which services you actually need. Are you just looking for finance, or do you want a comprehensive solution that takes care of the admin and lets you focus on recruiting?

Simply going with the cheapest provider rarely pays off – you should ask about their previous experience and, if you operate within a particular sector, whether they have previously worked with recruitment businesses operating in that sector.

Make sure you go through the terms and conditions with a fine-tooth comb. You never know what extra charges and fees might be lurking, so make sure you understand what you’re signing up to. If there’s anything that puzzles you, make sure to ask – a good recruitment factoring company will take the time to explain any financial jargon.

It’s also really important to find a recruitment finance company that suits the way you work. As Caroline Plumb, a recruitment industry veteran and CEO of cashflow management software company Fluidly, explains:

“You normally have to confirm timesheets with the lender. Sometimes they will then confirm it with clients. If not, they may want you to raise timesheets on their systems. Or, if you’re lucky, they might do it on trust, so long as they know you have a process in place for managing timesheets.

“If a structured process to timesheeting or an existing relationship with a payroll company is not how you operate at the moment, it can be a pain.”

So, make sure you check how that process would work with different recruitment finance companies.

Finally, Caroline advises: “Another thing to bear in mind is that invoice finance companies in recruitment prefer to fund contracts rather than permanent roles.” So, again, check that your recruitment finance company is happy with your business model and any future expansion plans.

This extra diligence will pay off later, as the last thing you want is to be stuck in a funding agreement that doesn’t work for your business.

To start comparing providers, tell us a bit about your circumstances to receive bespoke quotes from a selection of the UK’s leading recruitment factoring companies, all tailored to your specific needs, so you can see which one might be the right fit for your business.

How does recruitment factoring work?

As mentioned above, recruitment factoring (also known as recruitment finance) is a specialised form of invoice factoring (or invoice finance).

Essentially, you pay a fee to the recruitment factoring company and, in return, the factoring company pays you the vast majority of the invoice value shortly after it’s sent to them. Your client then pays their fee to the factoring company.

This infographic breaks down the basic process:

How does invoice finance work new

The major difference for recruitment companies is that invoices aren’t the only things that recruitment factoring companies can pay out in advance on. They can also pay on approved timesheets – ideal for recruitment companies that specialise in hiring temporary workers.

Having this funding in place can make a real difference to your business, as Dan Benson, from recruitment finance specialist Easypay, explains:

“It’s well known that the majority of recruitment agencies – temporary and permanent alike – will experience significant delays between paying candidates or bills and receiving client payment on invoices. Up to 60 days is standard, but in some cases, it can be significantly higher.

“For businesses looking to grow or recruiters wanting to break out on their own, the ebbs and flows of cashflow and the resulting unpredictability can be problematic. Unfortunately, banks and general finance companies fail to appreciate this reality, and penalise their clients with escalating charges and fees. An alternative approach to cashflow injection that holds much less risk than traditional methods of funding is necessary. That’s where invoice finance comes in.

With a 100% recruitment funding solution, there is a reliable cash flow injection, so that business accounts can maintain a consistently healthy bank balance.”

So, while using recruitment factoring does cost a little more than relying on delayed payments from clients, the peace of mind and financial security offered by a steady flow of cash coming into the business is invaluable.

Recruitment factoring vs recruitment discounting 

If you’re considering recruitment finance, you’ll need to decide whether you’re looking for recruitment factoring or recruitment discounting.

The big difference is that, with recruitment factoring, the recruitment company is responsible for chasing client payments, leaving you more time to focus on actual recruiting.

However, there are two things to bear in mind with this arrangement. Firstly, because of the extra work involved, recruitment factoring is more expensive than recruitment discounting. Secondly, it’s usually not confidential – the factoring company will directly contact your clients on your behalf, and so your clients will know you’re using recruitment finance.

Some recruitment factoring companies (such as Bibby Financial Services) do offer confidential recruitment factoring, which involves the factoring company presenting themselves as being part of your company. However, this is still relatively rare, and is the most expensive option.

The other option is recruitment discounting. This is cheaper and means you still need to chase your clients for payment yourself, meaning you can maintain your existing relationships – and your clients definitely won’t know that you’re using a recruitment finance company.

However, to be offered recruitment finance on these terms, the recruitment finance company will have to be satisfied that you have the necessary resources to make your clients pay on time. Otherwise, they may only offer you recruitment factoring.

So, factoring is more expensive, generally not confidential, and saves you a lot of time and stress. Discounting is cheaper, 100% confidential, and means you still have to chase clients for payment.

Most recruitment finance companies offer both options, so make sure you carefully evaluate your recruitment business to work out which one is right for you.

Regardless of whether you choose recruitment factoring or recruitment discounting, recruitment finance has three huge benefits over conventional business finance (unsecured business loans etc.)

Funding that grows with your business – Recruitment invoice finance is always tied to the value of your invoices/timesheets, so the funding you have available is always dependent on how your business is doing. This means you don’t have to contend with the burden of fixed interest rates, and that your cashflow will keep pace with the expansion of your company.

Back office support – The best recruitment factoring/recruitment discounting companies offer services that go beyond merely providing funding – their comprehensive solutions include taking care of things like payroll and contract generation, meaning you get to run your business while they take care of the admin.

A finance partner that understands the recruitment business – Recruitment finance companies get how your business works – most of the people you’ll be dealing with have either worked in recruitment, or worked with recruitment companies for so long that they know exactly how they operate. This means you’ll get funding that works with your business, and takes into account the often seasonal nature of recruitment. Moreover, many recruitment finance companies offer guidance and support that goes beyond funding – they are a real partner for your business.

If you want to see how recruitment factoring could help you achieve your ambitions, just tell us a little about your business needs to receive bespoke quotes from some of the UK’s top recruitment factoring companies, all tailored to your specific circumstances.

Bad debt protection  

When you start to compare recruitment factoring companies, one thing you’ll see offered as an optional extra is bad debt protection, or credit protection.

What this essentially means is that, for an additional fee, you will be protected from the risk of your clients encountering financial difficulties and being unable to pay their debts.

If you do have bad debt protection in place, the financial hit will be sustained by the recruitment finance company instead of your business.

The cost varies according to the reliability of your clients, while some lenders will allow you to only take out bad debt protection on a selection of your clients rather than the whole portfolio.

Whether bad debt protection is right for you depends on the specific circumstances of your business, but it’s extra insurance for an often tumultuous and unpredictable business world, and could save you lots of sleepless nights.

How much does recruitment factoring cost?

Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer to how much recruitment factoring costs, our detailed piece on invoice factoring costs gives more information on this.

Arrangements are always specific to the recruitment company being financed, and the total cost varies according to the levels of service being given in terms of back office support etc.

The two key factors that determine how much recruitment factoring will cost for your business are the financial strength of your business and the reliability of your clients.

A well-established business with strong clients is much less of a risk for the recruitment factoring company, and so will be offered recruitment finance at a lower cost than a higher-risk company (one with less of a track record, or smaller, less financially secure clients).

One common structure is to pay both a service fee (a set fee that covers the cost of the services being provided) and a borrowing fee (essentially the interest you pay on the funding being advanced to you), but an increasing number of providers are also offering a one-fee structure.

To get a good idea of how much recruitment factoring is likely to cost for you, simply tell us a bit about your recruitment business to receive bespoke quotes from some of the UK’s top recruitment finance companies, all tailored to your specific needs.

Final thoughts

If you find the right solution for your recruitment business, then recruitment factoring and recruitment discounting can really help you take it to the next level.

The benefits are clear – it’s a flexible source of funding that grows with your business, and you get a finance partner that understands the recruitment business. However, there are some key things you need to think about before you dive straight in.

Do you want the extra support offered by recruitment factoring, or do you want the inbuilt confidentiality of recruitment discounting? Likewise, are you just looking to unlock the value of your invoices, or are you looking for a full back office solution that also takes care of payroll, invoicing, and credit control? And finally, do you want to invest in bad debt protection that guards against the risk of your clients running into financial difficulties?

Knowing exactly what you want in a recruitment finance company will make it much easier to know which is the right one for you. Always remember, you want a company that suits the way you do business now and your future ambitions, so make sure you’re both on the same page before you sign up.

It’s a big decision that requires some serious research, but finding the right fit for your business could pay massive dividends in the long run.

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Written by:
Alec is Startups’ resident expert on politics and finance. He’s provided live updates on the budget, written guides on investing and property development, and demystified topics like corporation tax, accounting software, and invoice discounting. Before joining, he worked in the media for over a decade, conducting media analysis at Kantar Media and YouGov, and writing a wide variety of freelance pieces.
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