Daily News: July 9, 2012

Paragon Provides Factoring Outlook, Uptick in Energy, IT, Staffing

As the financial sector begins to pick itself up and dust off the fallout of the past few years, factoring companies are seeing an uptick – albeit a cautious one – in activity. Paragon Financial Group, a factoring company providing working capital solutions, reported it is providing invoice factoring and other trade financing for more and more companies to fund growth and take advantage of the recovering economy.

In business for more than 18 years, Paragon said it has seen its share of ups and downs in the economy. Right now the company is seeing larger deals, more competition, and more scrutiny.

“We’ve had an increase in business of 28% as compared to this time last year,” said Michael Rossi, president of Paragon Financial Group. “Our first-quarter growth was positive and that has continued into the second quarter. Right now we have a good pipeline of deals, many of which are larger than we have seen in the past, and many with more established companies. That’s the positive.”

Industries providing that uptick include energy, distribution, IT and temporary staffing, according to Rossi. “The energy sector is seeing more small investors and entrepreneurs beginning to take advantage of increasing opportunities in oil and gas, solar, wind and other technologies, and they’re looking to factoring to fund their new business efforts. Within the IT industry, as more companies are converting to cloud computing platforms, the demand for expertise in this area is on the rise. As the economy begins to recover and businesses grow, using temporary staffing is a good way to begin to ramp up, so temporary staffing companies come to us to help meet payroll needs.”

In light of bankruptcies caused by the downturn, Paragon is being more diligent in its underwriting but is also finding new opportunities. “Some of our clients’ customers may have had a major exposure to a retailer that filed for bankruptcy, and their credit subsequently deteriorated,” said Jon Anselma, Paragon managing partner. “In some cases we’re able to factor a retailer in bankruptcy that we weren’t able to work with previously due to that retailer’s bad credit. In that case, it actually creates business for us. We’re also seeing deals where the banks won’t increase a borrower’s line of credit, so they’re referring them to us and carving out certain assets so that companies can factor.”

Rossi agreed, though notes that many deals are more difficult to close. “Every deal seems to have more complications than normal. You have to be quick on your feet, make fast decisions and have the ability to move forward and get the businesses the funding they need.”

Competition has increased across the board and banks are once again appearing on the scene after sitting on their cash for a few years, a good sign for business. Smallbiztrends.com reported 60.8% of U.S. banks surveyed said they plan to do more commercial lending in 2012, and 12.7% said they plan to do “considerably more.”

In the long run, the economic downturn may have provided a positive side effect, filtering out the weak and strengthening those that remain, Rossi said. “Looking back at the dramatic events surrounding 2008 and 2009, I can say without a doubt: that which didn’t kill us, made us stronger. Originally it affected us, like most everyone, in a negative way. Current clients lost contracts, organic sales decreased, big retailers went under, credit dropped, people got desperate, and fraud increased. This forced us to look internally and improve ourselves from within. We streamlined our back office, improved our underwriting techniques, and got more creative with our marketing. The factoring companies who not only survived but improved themselves in the process will begin to reap the rewards as the economic wave begins to gradually build momentum.”

Rossi expects that wave to show a continued gradual growth for the rest of 2012 and 2013, with uncertainty the main factor in keeping the growth slow. “The downturn resulted in a lack of confidence that keeps people talking conservative. But economists and financial industry experts say businesses who got knocked down in 2008 and 2009 are getting back in the game and banks are beginning to lend again after a few years of conservative mindsets. My sense is companies are willing to take risks again.”

For over 18 years, Paragon Financial Group provides working capital solutions for growing companies throughout the United States. It serves small to large-size companies across a wide variety of industries through the factoring or their accounts receivable and purchase order financing lines up to $3 million per month in volume.