Asset Financing: How It Works and Real-Life Examples


Asset financing allows companies to leverage their balance sheet assets, such as inventory and accounts receivable, to secure short-term loans. This article explores the concept, benefits, and differences between asset financing and asset-based lending. We’ll also cover secured and unsecured loans in asset financing, making it easier to understand this financial strategy.

What is asset financing?

Asset financing is a financial strategy that enables companies to utilize their balance sheet assets to secure loans or borrow money. These assets can include short-term investments, inventory, and accounts receivable. In return, the borrowing company provides the lender with a security interest in these assets.

Understanding asset financing

Asset financing significantly differs from traditional financing methods. Instead of a lengthy process involving business planning and projections, asset financing offers a quicker way to access cash. It is commonly used when a company requires short-term working capital. While accounts receivable are frequently pledged in asset financing, some companies also employ inventory assets, known as warehouse financing.

The difference between asset financing and asset-based lending

At a fundamental level, asset financing and asset-based lending refer to the same concept with slight differences. In asset-based lending, the borrower’s assets, such as a home or a vehicle, serve as collateral for the loan. If the loan is not repaid within the specified time, the lender can seize the collateral to cover the loan amount. However, with asset financing, other assets used to help the borrower qualify for the loan are generally not considered direct collateral.

Asset financing is typically used by businesses that borrow against their existing assets, including accounts receivable, inventory, machinery, buildings, and warehouses. These loans are primarily aimed at addressing short-term funding needs, such as paying employee wages or purchasing raw materials.

If a company defaults, the lender can still seize assets to recoup the loan amount.

Secured and unsecured loans in asset financing

In the past, asset financing was often seen as a last-resort option, especially for small companies, startups, and businesses with limited credit history. Over time, the stigma associated with this source of funding has diminished.

There are two main types of loans in asset financing:

Secured loans

A secured loan involves a company borrowing money while pledging an asset as collateral. The lender assesses the value of the pledged asset rather than the overall creditworthiness of the company. If the loan is not repaid, the lender has the right to seize the collateral to cover the debt.

Unsecured loans

Unsecured loans do not require specific collateral, but the lender may have a general claim on the company’s assets if repayment is not made. In the event of bankruptcy, secured creditors typically receive a larger share of their claims. Therefore, secured loans usually offer lower interest rates, making them an attractive option for companies seeking asset financing.

The evolution of asset financing

Asset financing was once considered a less desirable form of funding, but its perception has evolved over time. Small businesses, startups, and companies with limited credit history now find it a viable option when traditional financing is unavailable.

Benefits of asset financing

Quick access to capital

Asset financing offers a faster way to access capital, making it suitable for businesses with urgent financial needs.

Lower interest rates

Secured loans in asset financing often come with lower interest rates, reducing the overall cost of borrowing.

Utilizing existing assets

Companies can leverage their existing assets, such as inventory and accounts receivable, rather than seeking external funding sources.

Enhanced creditworthiness

Asset financing is less reliant on a company’s credit history, which can be advantageous for businesses with limited creditworthiness.

Drawbacks of asset financing

Risk of asset seizure

Defaulting on an asset financing loan can lead to the seizure of pledged assets, which may have operational implications.

Short-term solution

Asset financing is primarily designed for short-term working capital needs and may not be suitable for long-term financial planning.

Interest payments

While secured loans offer lower interest rates, there are still interest payments to consider, which can affect the company’s profitability.

Examples of asset financing

Asset financing is a versatile financial strategy with various real-life applications. Here are some examples:

Manufacturing company

A manufacturing company may utilize asset financing to bridge cash flow gaps during production. They can pledge their machinery and inventory to secure a loan, ensuring they have the necessary funds to pay employees and acquire raw materials. Once the products are sold, they can repay the loan and regain control of their assets.

Retail business

Retail businesses can use asset financing to manage seasonal fluctuations. For instance, a clothing store can pledge its inventory to secure a loan before a busy holiday season. The loan helps them stock up on merchandise, meet customer demand, and repay the loan once sales revenue starts pouring in.

Construction firm

Construction companies often require heavy machinery and equipment. They can apply asset financing to acquire these assets without depleting their cash reserves. The purchased machinery serves as collateral for the loan. As the company takes on projects and earns revenue, they can repay the loan while putting the equipment to productive use.

Asset financing vs. equity financing

While asset financing focuses on leveraging existing assets, equity financing involves selling a portion of the company to investors in exchange for capital. Let’s explore the key differences:


In asset financing, the company retains full ownership of its assets, which serve as collateral. In equity financing, ownership is shared with investors who provide capital.


Asset financing requires loan repayment with interest, while equity financing involves sharing profits or dividends with investors.


Asset financing allows the company to maintain control over its operations and decision-making. Equity financing may result in dilution of control, as investors have a say in business decisions.


Asset financing carries the risk of asset seizure in case of default. Equity financing shares financial risk with investors but doesn’t involve collateral.

Asset financing and tax implications

It’s important to consider the tax implications of asset financing:

Depreciation benefits

Assets used in asset financing may qualify for depreciation deductions, reducing the company’s taxable income and overall tax liability.

Interest deductibility

The interest paid on asset financing loans is often tax-deductible, further lowering the company’s taxable income.

Capital gains and losses

If the company defaults on an asset financing loan, it may incur capital gains or losses when the lender seizes and sells the assets. Understanding these implications is vital for tax planning.


Asset financing is a valuable financial strategy that allows companies to leverage their balance sheet assets for short-term financial needs. It offers quick access to capital and can be particularly beneficial for businesses with limited credit history. Understanding the difference between secured and unsecured loans in asset financing is crucial when considering this option. While asset financing has evolved and gained acceptance, it’s essential to carefully weigh the benefits and drawbacks to make informed financial decisions.

Frequently asked questions

Is asset financing suitable for startups and small businesses?

Asset financing can be a viable option for startups and small businesses that may have limited access to traditional financing methods. It allows them to leverage their existing assets to secure short-term loans, making it a valuable resource for addressing working capital needs.

What types of assets can be used for asset financing?

Companies can use a variety of balance sheet assets for asset financing, including inventory, accounts receivable, machinery, buildings, and warehouses. The choice of assets often depends on the specific needs and nature of the business.

How does asset financing differ from equity financing?

Asset financing focuses on leveraging existing assets to secure loans while retaining full ownership of those assets. In contrast, equity financing involves selling a portion of the company to investors in exchange for capital. This key difference affects ownership, control, and repayment terms.

Are there tax benefits associated with asset financing?

Yes, there are potential tax benefits to asset financing. Assets used in this financing method may qualify for depreciation deductions, reducing the company’s taxable income. Additionally, the interest paid on asset financing loans is often tax-deductible, providing further tax advantages.

What happens if a company defaults on an asset financing loan?

If a company defaults on an asset financing loan, the lender may seize the pledged assets to recoup the outstanding loan amount. This can have operational implications, as the company may lose access to critical assets. Understanding the risks and responsibilities is essential when considering asset financing.

Key takeaways

  • Asset financing allows a company to secure a loan by using its balance sheet assets as collateral.
  • It is typically used to cover short-term working capital needs.
  • Asset financing is chosen by some companies over traditional financing because it relies on the value of the assets themselves rather than the lender’s perception of the borrower’s creditworthiness and future prospects.
View Article Sources
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  2. ASSET FINANCE UK LIMITED overview – Companies House – GOV.UK
  3. Asset Purchases and Direct Financing: Guiding Principles … – International Monetary Fund
  4. Asset finance – what is it? | How does it work? | Swoop UK – Swoop Funding