Mastering Secured and Unsecured Loans: A Comprehensive Guide for Businesses

The type of loan a company can raise depends on various factors other than just the bottom line of the business. Understanding the nuances between secured and unsecured loans, including the types of credit checks involved, is paramount for making informed decisions. Let’s delve deeper into the differences between secured and unsecured loan, explore when each option is advantageous, and examine the various types of credit checks conducted in both scenarios.

Mastering Secured and Unsecured Loans A Comprehensive Guide for Businesses

Secured vs. Unsecured Debt: Exploring the Essentials

Secured Debt:

Secured debt is backed by one or multiple collaterals/securities offered as security against the loan. Secured loans offer lower interest rates and favourable terms due to reduced lender risk. Companies pledge assets such as real estate, equipment, or inventory as security, providing assurance to lenders in case of default.

The interest cost in such loans is usually lower, with larger credit facilities and a longer term. Industries with capital-intensive operations or significant asset holdings, such as manufacturing, construction, and transportation, often prefer secured loans due to their ability to leverage tangible assets for financing and their constant need for more capital.

Unsecured Debt:

Unsecured debt, devoid of collateral, relies solely on the borrower’s creditworthiness. As a result, interest rates are typically higher, reflecting the heightened risk for lenders. Companies with strong credit profiles may still access unsecured financing but at a premium cost. Unsecured loans are typically smaller in amount and shorter in term.

Unsecured loans are often sought by industries with relatively lighter balance sheets or limited collateral, such as technology startups, service-oriented businesses, and creative enterprises. These companies may prioritise flexibility and agility over the need to pledge tangible assets as security, thus opting for unsecured loans despite the higher borrowing costs.

Understanding Credit Checks

Collateral Assessment: Done usually for secured loans, the lenders evaluate the value, marketability, and legal status of pledged assets. It is also important to check whether you have any existing charges on the collateral as the lenders always prepare to have a first charge on the security for a competitive offer. For example if you are offering your business premise as collateral then the lender would seek valuation of the property and check if there is any existing security granted over the property.

Business Credit Check: Extensive credit checks on the company are carried out by the lenders to evaluate the quality of the borrower, financial performance of the company including payment patterns (are the revenues cyclical or prepaid), outstanding debts, and credit utilisation specific to its business operations.

For a successful credit check, the borrowing company should have no county court judgment (CCJ), a good credit score, no history of company liquidation where the director was involved in these companies.

Personal Guarantees: Personal Guarantees play a major role, especially in unsecured loans as they give the lenders a sense of confidence. Personal credit checks on company directors or guarantors are done to assess their financial reliability. Lender usually prefers borrower’s director with UK home ownership.

Other Important Factors: It is also important to keep in mind that one should also approach the right type of lenders while raising debt for the company. This is because, whilst there might not be anything necessarily wrong with the company, approaching and getting terms from questionable lenders would reflect negatively during the credit checks and thus would lead to unfavourable terms from other lenders. This holds true especially for unsecured loans.

Another problem with reaching out to the wrong lenders is that a lot of the lenders run hard credit searches on the company which is a public record. Having a lot of credit searches by the lenders on the company reflects badly on the company.

Sometimes the lenders can be picky about the sectors that they lend to or are well versed with. Choosing the right lender plays an important role here too as the lender who has company’s industry knowledge would be able to offer better terms.

Also See: When and how to apply for a small business loan

So which loan type is suitable for you? Questions to ask yourself before making a choice

Before deciding between secured and unsecured debt, a borrower should ask themselves several key questions to assess their financial situation and needs effectively. Here are some important questions to consider:

What is the Purpose of the Loan?

Determine the specific use of the funds and whether they are for long-term investments in assets or short-term operational needs. This will help clarify whether secured or unsecured debt is more suitable, for e. g. it’s always better to go for a secured debt if the company is doing any capital purchases as the repayment term is longer and the cost is lesser which is especially beneficial on a large principal amount.

What Assets Do I Have Available as Collateral?

Evaluate the assets you could potentially pledge as collateral for a secured loan. Consider their value, liquidity, and importance to your business operations. It is also important to see if there are already charges on the collateral as that would lead to less attractive terms, unless it’s a refinance case where the charge is transferred to the new lender.

You should also make sure that the collateral would be available for the full term as you won’t be able to offer the property as collateral or sell it unless loan is repaid or alternative collateral is offered.

What is My Risk Tolerance?

Assess your comfort level with assuming risk. Secured debt provides lower interest rates but involves the risk of losing pledged assets in case of default, whereas unsecured debt typically carries higher interest rates but does not require collateral.

What is My Creditworthiness?

Review your credit history and credit score check to gauge your eligibility for unsecured financing. Strong credit may allow you to access favourable terms for unsecured loans, while poor credit may limit your options or result in higher interest rates.

Can I Afford the Repayments?

Evaluate your ability to repay the loan based on your current and projected cash flow. Consider the impact of loan payments on your business’s financial health and sustainability.

What Are the Terms and Conditions of Each Option?

Compare the terms and conditions of secured and unsecured loans, including interest rates, repayment terms, fees, and flexibility. Assess which option offers the most favourable terms given your circumstances.

Have I Explored Alternative Financing Options?

Consider alternative sources of financing, such as equity investment, crowdfunding, or government grants, which may offer different advantages and disadvantages compared to debt financing.

Also See: Considering Debt? A Guide for Businesses

Conclusion: Strategic Debt Management for Sustainable Growth

In navigating the complexities of secured and unsecured debt, businesses must prioritise strategic debt management aligned with their financial objectives and risk tolerance. By understanding the nuances between these financing options, the types of credit checks involved, and sector-wise preferences, companies can make informed decisions to optimise their capital structure and fuel sustainable growth. Whether leveraging collateral for secured financing or relying on creditworthiness for unsecured loans, diligence, and prudent planning are essential for securing favourable terms and ensuring long-term financial stability.

Talk to the Experts

Do you have questions about raising debt for your company? Our debt advisory team is ready to assist you. We work proactively to understand your needs, prepare a strong case and secure competitive offers tailored to your needs. Please get in touch with us by filling the form below!

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About the author
Blog Author

Shivam Bhanushali
Shivam Bhanushali is a Financial Analyst within the Corporate Advisory Team at dns Accountants. Bringing expertise in capital and transaction advisory, he collaborates with clients to achieve their financial goals. Shivam holds a MSc degree in Business & Finance from Warwick Business School, and an undergraduate degree from NMIMS Mumbai.

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About the author
Blog Author

Shivam Bhanushali
Shivam Bhanushali is a Financial Analyst within the Corporate Advisory Team at dns Accountants. Bringing expertise in capital and transaction advisory, he collaborates with clients to achieve their financial goals. Shivam holds a MSc degree in Business & Finance from Warwick Business School, and an undergraduate degree from NMIMS Mumbai.


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