In recent years, bridging finance has become an increasingly popular financing option for businesses of all sizes. But what exactly is bridging finance, and why has demand for it growing?
What Is Bridging Finance?
Bridging finance, also known as a bridge loan, is a short-term borrowing option that provides fast access to capital for a business. It enables a company to meet its financial obligations between making a large purchase or investment and finalizing longer-term financing.
Bridging finance is generally taken out for one week to 3 years. It provides immediate cash flow until additional financing can be secured or revenues increase.
Key Features of Bridging Finance
Some of the critical features of bridging finance include:
Quick Access to Capital
One of the main benefits of bridging loans is that businesses can access funds very quickly, sometimes in as little as 24 hours. This enables them to seize opportunities or cover costs while awaiting other financing options.
Flexible Repayment Terms
Bridging loans usually have flexible repayment terms tailored to the business needs. Repayment periods can range from a few weeks to several years. Options like interest-only payments may be available.
Secured Against Assets
Bridging finance is typically secured against business assets like property, equipment, or invoices. This allows higher-risk borrowers to be approved.
Higher Interest Rates
As a short-term financing option, bridging loans carry higher interest rates than longer-term loans. Rates vary but are often 1-1.5% per month.
There are usually upfront fees to arrange a bridging loan, such as administration, valuation, or legal fees. These typically range from 1-2% of the loan value.
Bridging Finance Use Cases
There are many situations where bridging finance can be an ideal solution for businesses:
Bridging finance enables companies to secure properties quickly, then refinance to a traditional mortgage once long-term financing is arranged.
A bridge loan provides fast access to capital for businesses wanting to expand operations, renovate, or purchase new equipment.
Mergers and Acquisitions
Bridging finance allows companies to seize time-sensitive M&A opportunities and obtain permanent financing later.
If additional working capital is needed in the short term, bridging loans can support immediate cash flow.
Inventory & Equipment
Businesses can use bridging finance to purchase inventory or equipment and increase production capacity.
Invoice Factoring Gap
If the gap between invoices being raised and customers paying exceeds a company’s cash flow capacity, a bridge loan can help cover costs.
Quick bridging finance can meet sudden financial needs like covering payroll, repairs, or taxes in times of hardship.
Bridging Finance Repayment
Most bridging loans are designed with the expectation of refinancing with longer-term options once the term ends. Several options exist for repaying bridging finance:
- Mortgage Refinancing – A commercial mortgage often replaces a property bridging loan.
- Business Loan – Traditional or SBA loans can help replace short-term business bridging loans.
- Equity Financing – Additional investment via equity financing allows startups and growth firms to repay bridging loans.
- Cash Flow – Increased revenues and cash flow from business expansion enable firms to repay bridge financing.
- Sale of Assets – The sale of property or other assets that secured the bridging loan can provide repayment capital.
Benefits of Bridging Finance
Bridging finance offers several advantages that make it an attractive financing option for many businesses:
Accessing capital within days rather than weeks or months is the most significant benefit. This enables businesses to seize opportunities.
Bridging loans can be customized to suit the borrower’s needs regarding loan size, term length, repayments, and other options.
Despite higher rates, the overall cost of a short-term bridge loan is often lower than lengthy financing delays.
Fast access to capital can enable businesses to avoid missing bill payments or liquidating assets to cover costs.
Bridging finance helps avoid late payments that could damage credit ratings and impede future financing.
Risks & Drawbacks
While bridging finance is helpful for many situations, potential downsides should be considered:
- Repaying the loan in full once the term ends may be challenging for some borrowers.
- If refinancing falls through, the business may be forced into liquidation or administration to repay the loan.
- The high-interest rates make it an expensive option over the long run.
- Upfront fees for arranging the loan reduce the capital received.
- Providing security like property assets can be risky if the loan cannot be repaid.
- Personal assets may need to be put up as collateral by small businesses or startups.
Is Bridging Finance Right For Your Business?
If you need fast access to capital for weeks or months until longer-term financing can be secured, bridging finance may be a good solution. It is best suited for established companies with assets to secure the loan. Ensure you have a solid plan to refinance or repay the loan once the term ends. As with any financing option, bridging loans have risks, so consider your alternatives and consult financial advisors first.
Bridging finance is vital as a quick financing solution for businesses across industries. With its ability to provide fast access to capital and flexibility in loan terms, bridging loans help companies seize time-sensitive opportunities and cover short-term costs while arranging permanent financing. For those who understand the risks and have a repayment plan once the loan term ends, bridging finance can provide an invaluable funding lifeline.
Q: What types of businesses typically get bridging finance?
A: Bridging finance is used by many types of businesses, but it is most common among real estate companies, construction firms, manufacturers, retailers, and professional service providers.
Q: What happens if you are unable to repay the bridging loan?
A: If a bridge loan cannot be repaid by the end of its term, the lender may call in the loan and force the borrower into insolvency or repossess assets used as collateral. Taking steps to secure refinancing is critical.
Q: Are there alternative bridging finance options besides banks?
A: Yes, alternative lending companies specialize solely in providing bridging loans and can often offer faster approval times than banks.
Q: Can bridging finance be used for personal expenses?
A: No, bridging loans are intended only for business purposes. Personal loans would be more appropriate for individual borrowing needs.
Q: Is bridging finance regulated in the US?
A: Yes, companies offering bridging loans in the US must comply with state lending laws and operate under licenses issued by state regulators.