Choosing Your Trade Finance Company: Follow These Steps


Trade finance is critical for many SMEs

Trade finance plays a crucial role in the success and growth of businesses that engage in international and domestic trade.

It helps companies bridge the gap between the time they need to pay for goods from suppliers and the time they receive payments for those goods from their customers.

This article aims to provide Australian SME business owners with a comprehensive guide on trade finance and how to pick the right trade finance company for your business.

Key Insight Summary

Trade finance is essential for businesses that engage in international and domestic trade to overcome the challenges of cash flow gaps.

Understanding the different types of trade finance, including factoring, letters of credit, export credit, supply chain finance, and invoice finance, is crucial in making informed financing decisions.

When choosing a financing company, business owners should consider their unique needs, measure their business needs, and conduct due diligence.

What is Trade Finance?

Trade finance refers to financial products and services that help businesses manage and finance their trading activities. It includes a range of financial instruments used to facilitate both domestic and international trade, such as import and export of goods and services.

Trade finance is especially important for small and medium-sized businesses, as it helps them bridge the cash flow gap between when they pay their suppliers and when they receive payment from their customers. This is crucial for businesses that rely heavily on trade, as it allows them to meet their working capital needs and grow their business.

Some common forms of trade finance include factoring, letters of credit, supply chain finance, export credit, and different invoice financing options. Each type of trade finance has its own unique benefits and risks, and it’s important for businesses to choose the right option for their specific needs.

By using trade finance, businesses can mitigate risks and ensure smooth operations in their trading activities, which is essential for their growth and success in a global economy.

See our guide to trade finance for Australian SMEs for more.

Definition of trade finance

Trade finance is a form of financing that helps businesses overcome cash flow gaps by providing access to working capital to support their trading activities. It includes a range of financial instruments and products, such as letters of credit, factoring, and export credit, that help mitigate risks and provide security to both buyers and sellers.

Trade finance can take many forms, such as letters of credit, factoring, and export credit, which help mitigate risks and provide security to both buyers and sellers. Letters of credit are used to ensure payment to exporters, factoring and invoice finance provides immediate cash flow by advancing the value of your unpaid invoices, and export credit offers financing to buyers in foreign countries.

Importance of trade finance

Trade finance is crucial for businesses that engage in international and domestic trade to manage their cash flow gaps. It helps companies expand their reach and improve their competitiveness by allowing them to take on larger orders and extend payment terms to their customers.

And for Australian businesses that rely heavily on international imports – it helps bridge the gap between the time when goods are shipped and when payment is received by providing access to working capital to support trading activities.

With the unique geographical challenges faced by Australian businesses, trade finance can help to overcome the added costs of shipping and customs, and ensure that payments are received promptly. It is crucial for businesses to understand the different types of trade finance available and choose the right financing product for their specific needs.

Types of trade finance

There are different types of trade finance available, each with their own unique features and benefits.


Factoring enables businesses to receive immediate payment for their invoices by selling them at a discounted rate to a factoring company. This allows businesses to access working capital quickly.

Letters of credit

Letters of credit provide payment security to buyers and sellers in international trade transactions, with the issuing bank guaranteeing payment to the seller if the buyer fails to fulfil their payment obligations.

Export credit

Export credit provides funding to exporters to support their international sales, with export credit agencies providing guarantees to banks to cover the risk of non-payment by buyers in foreign countries.

Supply chain finance

Supply chain finance optimises cash flow by allowing businesses to access early payment on invoices. A third-party finance provider pays suppliers for their outstanding invoices, with the buyer repaying the finance provider at a later date.

Invoice finance

Invoice finance, or invoice discounting, allows businesses to use their unpaid invoices as collateral to access working capital. A finance provider purchases outstanding invoices at a discounted rate, with the business receiving immediate payment.

Choosing the Right Trade Finance Company

Finding the right financing company is crucial for businesses seeking to access trade finance.

Factors to consider include the type of financing required, the financing company’s experience and reputation, and the terms and conditions of the financing agreement.

It’s also important to find a financing company that can provide customised solutions tailored to your business’s unique needs.

Payment terms can be a crucial factor, particularly for businesses that import goods with long lead times. It’s worth noting that different finance providers have varying caps on payment terms.

For instance, Fifo Capital’s trade finance solution offer up to 210-day terms with a minimum of 7 days. Additionally, our supply chain finance can help bridge the gap between payment to suppliers and receipt of goods by providing financing to cover the time lag. We advance 100% of your funds with up to 120-day terms.

Choosing the right financing options that align with your business needs is critical for a successful trade finance strategy.

Consider your business factors

When choosing a financing company for trade finance, Australian businesses should consider their unique factors, such as creditworthiness, business size, industry, and payment terms.

By taking these factors into account, businesses can choose a financing company that offers financing options tailored to their specific needs.

It’s also essential to conduct due diligence on the financing company to ensure that they are trustworthy and reliable.

By doing so, businesses can make informed decisions about trade finance and help overcome cash flow challenges associated with international and domestic trade.

Measure your business needs

Australian businesses that rely heavily on imports face unique challenges due to their geographical location. As such, trade finance is essential to overcome cash flow gaps and sustain business operations.

To determine their financing needs, businesses should conduct a thorough analysis of their cash flow, including the timing of incoming and outgoing payments. This can help you identify potential cash flow gaps and determine the amount of financing required to keep your trade activities running smoothly.

When looking for financing solutions, it’s important to work with a lender who understands the unique challenges you face and can tailor financing options to fit your circumstances.

A specialised lender like Fifo Capital can provide valuable expertise and support to help you get the financing you need to succeed. By taking the time to understand your financing needs and working with the right lender, you can help ensure the long-term success of your business.

Do your due diligence

Before engaging with a financing company, it is essential to do your due diligence to ensure that the financing company is reputable and trustworthy. Here are some steps you can take to protect yourself and your business:

  • Research the financing company’s background, reviews, and track record. Look for information on their website, as well as on third-party review sites. Check to see if they have a history of complaints or legal issues, and make sure that they’re licensed and in good standing with any relevant regulatory bodies.
  • Review the terms and conditions of the financing agreement carefully. Make sure that you understand all of the terms, including the interest rate, fees, repayment schedule, and any penalties for late payments or early repayment. If anything is unclear, don’t be afraid to ask questions or seek clarification.
  • Assess your own company’s financial position. Before applying for financing, take a close look at your cash flow and creditworthiness. Determine how much financing you need, and what terms you’re willing and able to accept. This will help you choose the right financing option for your business, and avoid taking on too much debt.

By doing your due diligence and carefully assessing your financing options, you can help protect your business and ensure that you’re getting the best possible terms for your needs.

Submitting the enquiry

The first step to securing funding for your Australian SME business is to submit an application or enquiry to a financing company.

You will need to provide accurate and comprehensive information about your business, including financial statements and cash flow projections.

When submitting your application, it is important to communicate clearly with the financing company regarding your financing requirements, such as the amount of funding needed and repayment terms that work for your business.

Once your application is submitted, the financing company will review your information and assess your creditworthiness and ability to repay the loan.

If you meet their criteria, you will receive an indicative offer that outlines the terms and conditions of the agreement, including interest rates, repayment schedules, and any associated fees.

Carefully review the financing offer and ensure that it aligns with your business needs and budget. If you have any questions or concerns about the offer, don’t hesitate to ask the financing company for clarification.

Once you accept the offer, you can expect to receive the funds in a timely manner to help your business grow and thrive.

At Fifo Capital, we take pride in providing excellent service to our clients. Our team is committed to keeping you informed and involved throughout the financing process, from the initial inquiry to the final funding of your loan.

Our goal is to provide a fast and efficient financing process that allows you to focus on running and growing your business. To find out more about our funding, see how Fifo Capital works.

Learn how Fifo Capital helped companies finance their trade

We have helped thousands of businesses finance their trade through our trade finance solutions. Our tailored solutions provide flexible financing options to support businesses in managing their cash flow, accessing working capital, and expanding their business operations.

Case study: A small business that struggled with cash flow

A small business that provided plumbing services was struggling with cash flow due to delayed payments from their customers. They needed immediate financing to cover their operational expenses and meet their financial obligations. Fifo Capital provided them with invoice finance, which allowed them to receive a portion of their outstanding invoices upfront, giving them the cash flow they needed to keep their business running smoothly.

Case study: A growing business that needed to expand their operations

A growing business that provided electrical services was looking to expand their operations to meet the increasing demand for their services. They needed funding to purchase new equipment and hire additional staff. Fifo Capital provided them with supply chain finance, which allowed them to access funding based on their purchase orders, giving them the capital they needed to grow their business.

Our final note

Trade finance is an essential tool for businesses that engage in international and domestic trade. It provides businesses with the necessary funding to manage their cash flow, access working capital, and expand their business operations.

When choosing a financing company, it is important to consider your business factors, measure your business needs, do your due diligence, before signing on.

We understand that every business has unique trade finance needs, which is why we offer a range of flexible solutions at Fifo Capital. Our team can assess your specific situation and provide you with an indicative offer within 24 hours. This allows you to quickly evaluate your financing options and make informed decisions for your business. Get in touch with our team to learn more about how we can help.

And if you’re looking for more information to help you better understand how to make the most of your business and access better finance options, check out these resources:

Guide to working capital funding
Learn to understand financial ratios
Learn advantages of supply chain financing

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