03 July 2024
“Accounts Receivable” (AR) refers to the money owed following a transaction in which the buyer has not paid for the goods or services they have received. Let us take a closer look at the definition of AR and its meaning in practice for small- and medium-sized businesses.


  • Accounts receivable (AR) represent money owed to a business for goods or services delivered but not yet paid for, listed as current assets on the balance sheet.
  • Effective AR management involves issuing invoices, monitoring payments, and handling unpaid invoices to maintain cash flow.
  • Key metrics like the Accounts Receivable Turnover Ratio and Days Sales Outstanding (DSO) help assess debt collection efficiency.
  • Trade credit insurance protects AR, offering coverage against unpaid invoices. Businesses can also optimize cash flow through Accounts Receivable Factoring and Financing.

"Accounts receivable," often abbreviated as "AR" or "A/R," refer to money owed after a business transaction where the buyer hasn't paid yet for received goods or services.

AR mainly come from invoices issued by the seller, which outline when and how the amount should be paid, including any discounts for early payment.

These unpaid amounts appear on a company's balance sheet as current assets. The AR process starts with issuing invoices and ends when payments are received. Successful businesses handle this process by offering good payment terms to customers while managing their cash flow effectively.

Managing the entire accounts receivable process is crucial for maintaining healthy cash flow, much like other aspects of running a small- or medium-sized business.

The accounts receivable (AR) process in the GCC (UAE and KSA) begins with the sale of a product or delivery of a service. If payment isn't immediate, the seller extends trade credit, agreeing that payment will be made at a later date.

The seller then issues an invoice, a legally enforceable document that records the transaction details and specifies payment terms such as Cash on Delivery, Line of Credit, or Net 30, 60, or 90 days.

Managing receivables effectively involves monitoring the turnover ratio and considering options like trade credit insurance to mitigate risks associated with unpaid invoices, also known as trade receivables or trade debtors.

Despite efforts to manage receivables efficiently, some invoices may remain unpaid due to insolvency or other issues. In such cases, businesses may need to write off these debts as bad debts.

Successful AR management ensures most invoices are settled on time, optimizing cash flow and financial stability.

Strategically managing credit and debt is crucial for maintaining strong financial health in the UAE and KSA, two GCC countries. One effective metric for evaluating this is the Accounts Receivable Turnover Ratio, which assesses how efficiently a company handles customer debt.

The Accounts Receivable Turnover Ratio measures how often a company collects its average accounts receivable balance. A higher ratio indicates better debt recovery efficiency, reflecting superior management compared to businesses less skilled or proactive in this area. It is calculated by dividing net credit sales by the average accounts receivable.

In essence, companies with a high Accounts Receivable Turnover Ratio in the UAE and KSA demonstrate effective debt collection practices, which are essential for enhancing financial management and stability in these markets.

A high Accounts Receivable Turnover Ratio suggests effective credit management processes and timely debt settlement by customers in the UAE and KSA. Conversely, a low ratio may indicate credit extended to unreliable customers or inefficient in-house debt collection procedures.

Another relevant metric is Days Sales Outstanding (DSO), which gauges the average time taken by a company in the GCC countries to collect payments for credit sales. A lower DSO signifies faster payment collection, reflecting stronger financial health. Monitoring DSO closely provides insights into customers' financial status and highlights areas for process enhancement. This analysis aids businesses in optimizing cash flow and maintaining robust financial management practices in the region.

Accounts Receivable are common in both business-to-business (B2B) and many business-to-consumer (B2C) transactions. Here's an example:

Consider a retail store in the UAE purchasing washing machines from a supplier for USD 10,000. Upon delivery of the washing machines, the supplier issues an invoice to the retail store for USD 10,000, with payment due within 30 days. During this period, while the retail store possesses the goods but has not yet paid the invoice, the supplier records USD 10,000 as Accounts Receivable. Conversely, the retail store records this amount as "Accounts Payable."

After 30 days, when the retail store settles the invoice and pays the supplier, the supplier decreases its accounts receivable by USD 10,000 and increases its cash account by the same amount. This transaction demonstrates how Accounts Receivable and Accounts Payable reflect the credit and payment processes between businesses in the UAE.

Accounts Receivable Factoring is a method businesses in the UAE and KSA use to raise funds by selling unpaid invoices for immediate cash. Factoring companies purchase these invoices at a discounted rate and take over the responsibility of collecting the debt. Once the debt is recovered from the customer, the factoring company pays the remaining amount to the business, deducting their fees, which are typically a percentage of the invoice value spread over the duration until collection.

While this can be a costly way to recover debts, it offers a solution for companies lacking the resources or expertise to manage their own debt collection and needing to manage cash flow gaps.

It's important not to confuse Accounts Receivable Factoring with Accounts Receivable Financing. The latter involves leveraging unpaid invoices as collateral to secure a loan. Financial institutions may extend financing to businesses based on their Accounts Receivable, with repayment made as invoices are settled.

The key distinction lies in Accounts Receivable Factoring involving the sale of debt to obtain immediate cash, whereas Accounts Receivable Financing entails using invoices as collateral to secure a loan. Both methods serve as financial tools for businesses seeking to optimize their cash flow and manage liquidity effectively in the GCC region.

For small- and medium-sized businesses in the UAE and KSA, effective financial management includes carefully managing credit extension and debt recovery processes. Robust risk management and monitoring practices are essential to ensure timely settlement of invoices and minimize bad debts.

Businesses must strike a balance between offering favorable payment terms to customers and ensuring debt recovery feasibility. While longer and more flexible payment terms are attractive to customers, they can create challenges with cash flow management. Therefore, a strategic analysis of the accounts receivable process is crucial.

By strategically analyzing accounts receivable, businesses can optimize their credit policies, enhance cash flow management, and maintain financial stability in the competitive markets of the GCC region.

Once a small- or medium-sized business in the UAE or KSA is operational, managing credit extension and debt becomes a pivotal concern. Balancing the attraction of customers with flexible payment terms against maintaining steady cash flow is crucial for ensuring robust corporate financial health.

When a business extends credit to a customer, the amount is recorded as a debit balance in Accounts Receivable. As payments are received, the Accounts Receivable entry is credited (reduced). Typically, businesses manage the Accounts Receivable process internally, often utilizing dedicated accounting software and automated procedures. In instances where internal processes may fall short, companies might choose to outsource debt recovery to an Accounts Receivable Factoring service for a fee.

Ensuring meticulous management and monitoring of the Accounts Receivable Cycle is imperative for the financial well-being of any company in the UAE or KSA. Explore how Allianz Trade can assist in optimizing your procedures to maintain peak financial health.

Allianz Trade is the global leader in  trade credit insurance and  credit management, offering tailored solutions to mitigate the risks associated with  bad debt, thereby ensuring the financial stability of businesses. Our products and services help companies with  risk management, cash flow management, accounts receivables protection,  debt collection processes ensuring the financial resilience for our client’s businesses. Our expertise in risk mitigation and finance positions us as trusted advisors, enabling businesses aspiring for global success to expand into international markets with confidence.

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