THE STANDARDS FRAMEWORKfor Invoice Finance andAsset Based LendingApril 2020
UK FinanceThe Standards Framework for Invoice Finance and Asset Based LendingCONTENTSIntroduction3Invoice Finance and Asset Based Lending4Finance Providers5Why there is a Standards Framework6The Code and Guidance6Switching Invoice Finance Provider8CEDR Services Limited9The independent Complaints Process10The Professional Standards Council10Frequently Asked Questions11About UK Finance132
UK FinanceThe Standards Framework for Invoice Finance and Asset Based Lending3INTRODUCTIONThis guide provides information about the Standards Framework, including the standards that UKFinance Invoice Finance and Asset Based Lending (IFABL) members will meet, how to make a complaintabout an IFABL member, and the role of the Professional Standards Council. It also provides theanswers to some frequently asked questions (FAQs) and links to further information.The Standards Framework was established in 2013 bythe then Asset Based Finance Association (ABFA). From1 July 2017 ABFA was fully integrated into a new tradeassociation, UK Finance, which represents more than 250firms in the UK providing credit, banking, markets andpayment-related services. UK Finance takes on many ofthe activities of ABFA along with those of the BritishBankers’ Association, the Council of Mortgage Lenders,Financial Fraud Action UK, Payments UK and the UK CardsAssociation. The costs of the Framework are met by UKFinance and its IFABL members, and the complaints processis free for client businesses who wish to use it. Compliancewith the Framework is overseen independently by theProfessional Standards Council, and complaints whichare referred are adjudicated upon independently by aspecialist dispute resolution service provider.The Standards Framework (“the Framework”) only covers the provision of invoice financeand asset based lending products and services, as provided by UK Finance’s IFABL members.The Standards Framework has three core components:1The Invoice Finance and Asset Based Lending Code sets the standards of practice that allIFABL members must meet in their treatment of clients, prospects and other associatedparties.2The independent Complaints Process is provided by CEDR Services Limited and providesclients with an independent mechanism through which any concerns can be adjudicatedupon.3The independent Professional Standards Council (PSC) oversees the Code and theindependent Complaints Process to ensure that they are working effectively. The PSC seeksto protect and enhance the reputation of the invoice finance and asset based lendingindustry through the development of the Code and monitoring and upholding its provisions.The PSC has a range of powers that it can use to do this.
UK FinanceThe Standards Framework for Invoice Finance and Asset Based LendingINVOICE FINANCE AND ASSETBASED LENDINGInvoice finance and asset based lending are forms of commercial finance used to support companiesof all sizes, from start-ups to larger corporates, and across all industry sectors. The products andservices are normally used for growing businesses and can also be used to support client businessesthat are transforming or restructuring.Invoice FinanceAsset Based LendingThe most commonly known type of invoice financeis factoring, which supports many thousands of clientbusinesses. The most significant product in the UK,however, in terms of both volume of funding providedand numbers of clients supported, is invoice discounting.In addition to providing funding against the debtsowed to a client business, some finance providers canoffer clients a wider range of funding facilities securedagainst other assets. These can include stock, plant andmachinery, property and land, and sometimes intangibleassets such as intellectual property and forward incomestreams. This is referred to as asset based lending as thefinance provider will generally take security (will lend)against the wider assets of a business.START-UPS,SOLE-TRADERS,PARTNERSHIPS toSMEsFactoringSMEs to MIDCORPORATESInvoice DiscountingSMEs to LARGERCORPORATESAsset Based LendingFUNDING AGAINSTINVOICESFULL CREDITCONTROLFUNDING With both factoring and invoice discounting, funds areprovided against the debts owed to a client business bytheir customers (debtors). The debtor book will often bethe most significant asset that a business will have andinvoice finance allows the client business to unlock thefunding tied up in its debts, releasing finance for workingcapital and growth. A finance provider would normallypurchase the right to payment of the debts owed, ratherthan take security against them.AND/ORFUNDING AGAINSTINVOICESMORE INFORMATIONLIST OF d-a-memberFUNDING AGAINSTOTHER ASSETS4
UK FinanceThe Standards Framework for Invoice Finance and Asset Based LendingThe Industry in Numbers39,000INVOICEFINANCE &ASSET BASEDLENDING80%By the end of 2019, invoice finance and assetbased lending supported 39,000 UK businesses 280billionThose client businesses have combined salesturnover of over 280 billion 21billionAt any point in time, IFABL members will be advancingover 21 billion of finance to those businessesAround 80 per cent of the businesses supported byIFABL members have turnover of less than 6.5 millionFINANCE PROVIDERSInvoice finance and asset based lending products and services are available from a widerange of finance providers, from the specialist divisions of the UK banks, as well as arange of independent non-bank finance providers.The majority of invoice finance and asset based lending providers in the UK are IFABL members of UKFinance and thus comply with the requirements of the Standards Framework. Members are permittedto use the UK Finance Standards Framework logo on their website and in communications.5
UK FinanceThe Standards Framework for Invoice Finance and Asset Based Lending6WHY THERE IS A STANDARDSFRAMEWORKMembers have supported many hundreds of thousands of client businesses in the UK over the last 50years. The overwhelming majority of client businesses are happy with the products and services theyreceive and how they are treated.In some cases, however, a client business may be unhappywith the service they receive. Where that happens, it isimportant to have a clear set of principles and standardsin place and independent processes through whichconcerns can be explored and, if necessary, addressed.Finance that is provided to businesses, as opposed toconsumers or individuals, is not generally subject togovernment regulation in the UK as far as conduct isconcerned. The Framework has been established toprovide current and prospective clients of this industrywith confidence in using these forms of finance.THE CODE AND GUIDANCEAll UK Finance IFABL members must operate in accordance with the Code. This Code, and thesupporting Guidance sets the standards that IFABL members are required to meet in their dealing withclients, prospective clients and other specified associated parties in the provision of invoice financeand asset based lending products and services. It does not cover members’ conduct in the provisionof any other services that they may offer, although separate regulatory systems may exist.The commitments within the Code are broadly based on the principles of TreatingCustomers Fairly. The Code is generally principles-based rather than prescriptive. This is toensure that it remains focused on outcomes for clients rather than on process.Members that already operate to some extent in aformally regulated environment – such as those that arepart of banks – must interpret the principles of the Codein the context of their existing practices and policies.There should be no conflict between the StandardsFramework and statutory regulatory systems and if thereis the latter will always prevail.Whilst the principles set out in the Code cover conductwith all clients in the provision of invoice finance andasset based lending, the independent Complaints Processis specifically focused on smaller client businesses and isaccessible to clients with an annual turnover of up to 6.5million.MORE INFORMATIONTHE INVOICE FINANCE AND ASSET BASED LENDING IFABL-Code-2018-edition.pdf
UK FinanceThe Standards Framework for Invoice Finance and Asset Based LendingThe Commitments of the Code are:1Members shall abide by this Code, its Guidance and all applicablelaws and regulations.2Members shall act with integrity and deal fairly and responsibly withclients and guarantors.3Members shall provide clients and guarantors with all appropriateinformation in a timely and transparent manner.4Members shall ensure that legal documentation issued by them isclearly and unambiguously written.5Members shall provide effective and timely client services inaccordance with their legal agreements.6Members shall operate their own appropriate complaints procedures andthe Professional Standards Council may from time to time request detailsof such procedures and anonymised data as to their outcomes.Each of the above commitments have more detailed requirements which are set outwithin the full Code document.7
UK FinanceThe Standards Framework for Invoice Finance and Asset Based Lending8SWITCHING INVOICE FINANCEPROVIDERAs well as the Code and Guidance, members agree to comply with a standard procedure to make it aseasy as possible for a client business to switch invoice finance provider.This procedure is called the Inter Member TransferProcess (IMTP) and will normally be followed whenever aclient transfers from one IFABL member to another. TheIMTP includes a number of commitments and timescalesthat the members involved will meet in relation to thetransfer.If a client business believes those commitments have notbeen met, they would be able to raise a complaint withthe member involved. If the issue is not addressed totheir satisfaction, they would then be able to access theindependent Complaints Process under the StandardsFramework, subject to the eligibility criteria.MORE INFORMATIONHOW TO SWITCH INVOICE FINANCE UKF-IFABL-IMTG-Publication-for-website-2018.pdf
UK FinanceThe Standards Framework for Invoice Finance and Asset Based Lending9CEDR SERVICES LIMITEDImpartialAccessibleProfessionalCEDR is one of Europe’s leading Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) service providers. CEDR providesdispute resolution services in a number of different industries, including telecommunications, water,aviation and property sectors, and more recently in the invoice finance and asset based lending sector.These services are delivered in the form of sector specific schemes that have been developed byCEDR in collaboration with multiple stakeholders and regulators over the last ten years.CEDR also delivers dispute resolution services on behalf of membership organisations, working with the Royal Institutionof Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). CEDR covers the full spectrum of ADRmethodologies including: conciliation, adjudication, complaints review, early neutral evaluation and expert determination.When dealing with complaints about members, CEDR’s aim is to ensure the following:1To provide an independent, impartial and cost effective means of resolvingdisputes outside the courts2To give an accessible and independent review of complaints3To work with the Professional Standards Council, UK Finance and its membersto improve the service they give to their clients, making recommendations forimprovements or change within the industry.CEDR will consider complaints relating to alleged breaches of the Code and Guidance. In handling complaints, carryingout adjudications and reaching final decisions, CEDR will adjudicate fairly, independently and on a case by case basis.Further, CEDR will consider what is fair and reasonable in the circumstances, having regard to any relevant legislation orregulations, principles of common law (judge-made decisions), good practice, equitable conduct, contractual obligationsand good administration.MORE INFORMATIONCEDR Services Limitedhttps://www.cedr.com
UK FinanceThe Standards Framework for Invoice Finance and Asset Based Lending10THE INDEPENDENT COMPLAINTSPROCESSThe independent Complaints Process is one of the key ways that compliance with the Code ismonitored and enforced. It is provided by the specialist dispute resolution organisation, CEDR ServicesLimited (CEDR), CEDRThe Complaints Process is focused on meeting therequirements of smaller client businesses that may lackthe resources, confidence or ability to otherwise takeforward any concerns about treatment. It is available toall members’ clients with annual turnovers of up to 6.5million, which covers at least 80 per cent of the industry’scurrent client base. Certain restrictions apply in respectof historical complaints.The process is focused on outcomes and the objectiveis to enable an issue to be addressed and resolvedto the satisfaction of the complainant as quickly aspossible. The member will normally be best placed toaddress the issues raised and therefore a complaintmust be registered under the member’s own complaintsprocedure, before it can be transferred to theindependent Complaints Process.The independent Complaints Process complementsmembers’ internal complaints systems - it does notprovide an alternative to them.The Complaints Process is intended to be compensatorynot punitive. The maximum award available through theindependent complaints process is 28,000.THE PROFESSIONAL STANDARDSCOUNCILThe Professional Standards Council (PSC) is responsible for the effectiveness of the StandardsFramework, overseeing the Code, as well as Members’ complaints processes and the independentComplaints Process.The PSC is supported by but operates independentlyof UK Finance. Its membership comprises a majorityof independent lay-members (non-industry), includingan independent chair, with a minority of industryrepresentatives to provide appropriate expertise andexperience.The PSC does not, in normal circumstances, considerindividual complaints; these are the responsibility ofCEDR. The PSC’s role is to consider issues emerging fromthe complaints processes and other matters brought toits attention, as well as wider issues that may affect thereputation of the industry.As well as making recommendations to the IFABLProduct and Service Board regarding conduct andpractices, the PSC can recommend a range of sanctionsregarding conduct and, where necessary, continuation ofmembership.MORE INFORMATIONCOMPLAINTS PROCESS / MAKING A COMPLAINTCall 44 (0) 203 934 1456 or email -2018-.pdf
UK FinanceThe Standards Framework for Invoice Finance and Asset Based Lending11FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONSWhy was the Standards Frameworkestablished?that are subject to statutory regulation in respect ofother products and services, invoice finance and assetbased lending are currently not.The Framework was established to support the industry’sclients and provide them – as well as businesses thatmay be considering using invoice finance or asset basedlending – with confidence in using the products.The Standards Framework was independently establishedby the ABFA and now part of the UK Finance IFABLProduct and Service Board. The Standards Frameworkis overseen by the independent Professional StandardsCouncil.Invoice finance and asset based lending providers havesupported hundreds of thousands of client businessesover the last 50 years. However, in some cases a clientmay feel they have been treated unfairly and so it isimportant to have a clear set of principles and a processthrough which concerns can be investigated andaddressed.The Framework is part of the industry’s commitment tomeet and exceed the expectations of current and futureclients.What are the key principles behindthe Standards Framework?The Standards Framework requires IFABL membersto treat their clients and associated parties fairly andresponsibly, and operate with integrity at all times.They are also required to be timely, transparent andunambiguous in their dealing with clients and each other.Is invoice finance and asset basedlending regulated?Invoice finance and asset based lending are forms ofcommercial finance for businesses and are not providedto individual consumers. The provision of commercialfinance - rather than consumer finance - is not generallysubject to statutory conduct regulation at the presenttime in the United Kingdom.Whilst many IFABL members are part of organisationsWhich finance providers arecovered by the StandardsFramework?The Framework covers the conduct of all UK FinanceIFABL members in the provision of invoice finance andasset based lending. All IFABL members agree to complywith the Code in their treatment of all clients andassociated parties as a requirement of membership.The independent Complaints Process has beenparticularly designed to be accessible to smaller clientbusinesses and is available to all clients of members withan annual turnover of 6.5 million. This covers over 80per cent of the businesses currently supported by theindustry.The current membership is available at types of finance arecovered?The Framework covers the provision of invoice finance(factoring and invoice discounting, primarily) and assetbased lending products and services.It does not cover other products and services that maybe provided by members, although these may be subjectto other statutory or non- statutory regimes.
UK FinanceThe Standards Framework for Invoice Finance and Asset Based LendingDoes the Framework cover allinvoice finance and asset basedlending providers?Members must meet the standards set out in the Codein dealing with all clients regardless of size, however, andanybody can raise a concern about the behaviour of anIFABL member with the Professional Standards Council.It is estimated that IFABL members provide at least 90 percent (by volume) of the invoice finance and asset basedlending available in the UK.How do I make a complaint?However, membership is not compulsory and not allproviders of invoice finance and asset based lending aremembers. In particular there are a number of companiesproviding online invoice trading services – client businessesusing those services are not covered by the Framework.It is expected that all finance providers would seek tomeet the standards set by the Code whether they aremembers or not. But it is not possible to complain or raiseconcerns about the behaviour or actions of a financeprovider that is not an IFABL member.Only IFABL Members are permitted to use the StandardsFramework logo.Does the Framework coverAssociates of the UK Finance?There are a number of organisations that provideprofessional services to the industry – these are referred toas associates. The Standards Framework does not directlyapply to associates but associates would be expected tosupport IFABL members in meeting their requirementsunder the Framework. In addition, depending on thenature of their services, many associates will be subject toa specific regulatory system and it may be possible to raiseconcerns with alternative bodies.Who can make a complaint or raisea concern?The independent Complaints Process is available to anyclient, prospective client (or guarantor/ indemnifier tothe same) of a UK Finance IFABL member, if that clienthas an annual turnover of up to 6.5 million. Designatedrepresentatives are also able to make a complaint onbehalf of a qualifying party.12The first step will be to register the complaint with thefinance provider and request that they address the issuesraised.If a member does not do so to the satisfaction of thecomplainant, the complainant may be eligible to use theindependent Complaints Process provided by CEDR.For further information about how to make acomplaint please call 44 (0) 203 934 1456 or by firstname.lastname@example.org.What can the ProfessionalStandards Council or CEDR do?Depending on the outcome of an individual complaint,CEDR has the authority to direct a member to put in placea number of remedies. CEDR can require the member toapologise and provide an explanation of what went wrongand, if possible and appropriate, to take steps to put thisright. CEDR can also direct an IFABL member to make acompensatory financial award to a successful complainant.CEDR can make reports to the PSC about theconduct of an IFABL member or members, and makerecommendations about practices within the invoicefinance and asset based lending industry more generally, asappropriate.The PSC has the power to make directions andrecommendations to members and can recommend theimposition of a range of sanctions regarding the conductof individual members. These can include sanctions aroundcontinuation of membership.
UK FinanceThe Standards Framework for Invoice Finance and Asset Based Lending13ABOUT UK FINANCEUK Finance represents more than 250 of the leadingfirms providing finance, banking, markets and paymentsrelated services in or from the UK.Regular forums also exist to ensure the industry isfocused on evolving to better meet the needs ofbusinesses.UK Finance currently represents around 95 per cent ofinvoice finance and asset based lending (IFABL) providersin the UK. At any one time, IFABL members will beadvancing over 22 billion in finance to around 40,000client businesses.In addition to finance providers, UK Finance has a numberof associate organisations that provide services to theindustry. For the avoidance of doubt, these Associatesare not covered by the Standards Framework but theymay be covered by other industry codes or regulatorysystems.UK Finance’s IFABL membership includes a wide range offinance providers, including the specialist divisions of theUK banks as well as a range of independent non-bankfinance providers.In addition to the Standards Framework, UK Financeprovides a vast array of courses including certifications,online modules and day courses to educate industry staffabout the products, services and best practice expectedof members.IFABL membership is restricted to businesses involved inthe provision of invoice finance and asset based lending.Compliance with the requirements of the StandardsFramework is a condition of membership, as are a numberof other technical criteria.Further Finance InformationFurther information about invoice finance and asset based lending, and about UKFinance, can be found at www.ukfinance.org.uk.Further information about a wide range of business finance solutions can befound through the British Business Bank and ICAEW’s Business Finance Guide,produced with the support of UK Finance and many other kStandards Framework OnlinePlease visit the website for the most up to date information on the Code, thesupporting guidance or to making a complaint about a work/
Asset Based Lending. April 2020. UK Finance The Standards Framework for Invoice Finance and Asset Based Lending 2 CONTENTS Introduction. 3 Invoice Finance and Asset Based Lending: 4 Finance Providers: 5 Why there is a Standards Framework: 6 The Code and Guidance: 6 Switching Invoice Finance Provider: 8
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