Accounts receivable ageing explained: What it is, how it works and how to calculate it

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  1. Introduction
  2. What’s included in an accounts receivable ageing report?
  3. Creating and using accounts receivable ageing reports
    1. Creating the report
    2. Analysing the report
    3. Acting on the report
  4. How to calculate accounts receivable ageing
    1. Sample calculation
  5. Benefits of accounts receivable ageing

An accounts receivable ageing report lists unpaid customer invoices and unused credit memos by date ranges, categorising receivables by how long they have been outstanding and breaking them down into 30-day intervals (e.g. 0 to 30 days, 31 to 60 days, 61 to 90 days). This report helps businesses identify invoices that are overdue for payment and assess the financial health of their receivables. According to a 2022 analysis of 250,000 invoices sent using Due software, 63% of invoices for one-off payments were paid within 30 days of being issued, meaning that more than a third were eligible for an accounts receivable ageing report.

This guide will cover what businesses should know about accounts receivable ageing: how it works, how to create your own reports, and the benefits of accounts receivable ageing.

What's in this article?

  • What's included in an accounts receivable ageing report?
  • Creating and using accounts receivable ageing reports
  • How to calculate accounts receivable ageing
  • Benefits of accounts receivable ageing

What's included in an accounts receivable ageing report?

An accounts receivable ageing report typically includes the following elements:

  • Customer information: The customer or company name. This can also include contact details or an account number for reference.

  • Invoice details: The invoice number, the date it was issued and the total amount due.

  • Ageing categories: Ageing categories reflect how long an invoice has been outstanding. Common categories are 0 to 30 days, 31 to 60 days, 61 to 90 days and more than 90 days.

  • Amounts due: The amount due in each ageing category per customer and the total amount due across all ageing categories per customer. The report might also provide a grand total of all receivables due.

  • Credit memos: Reports might include details of unused credit memos, which provide a credit on an invoice.

  • Comments: Reports might include a comments or notes section detailing specifics of collection efforts, payment agreements or other relevant information.

Creating and using accounts receivable ageing reports

Creating the report

Businesses can either prepare ageing reports manually via spreadsheets or automate these reports via accounting or billing software that pulls data directly from the accounts receivable ledger. This software might also be able to send automatic payment reminders to customers. Some businesses may also integrate their ageing reports with customer relationship management (CRM) systems to combine financial data with customer interaction data.

Depending on a business's needs, ageing reports can be customised to include additional information, such as payment terms, past collection efforts or notes on communication with the customer. Here are the basic steps of creating an accounts receivable ageing report:

  • Compile invoices.
  • Set time intervals for categorisation (e.g. 0 to 30 days, 31 to 60 days).
  • Categorise invoices by the length of time they have been unpaid.
  • Calculate customer balances for each category.
  • Calculate total balances for each category.

Update these reports regularly (many businesses choose a monthly cadence). This reflects the current status of accounts receivable and creates valuable documentation in the event of financial audits.

Analysing the report

Schedule consistent reviews of the ageing report, typically on a weekly or monthly basis, to keep a close eye on receivables and identify any overdue accounts early. Businesses use the report to assess the following areas of concern:

  • Delinquent accounts: Identify which customers are late with their payments and how long their invoices have been overdue. Focus on accounts that are significantly past due – these are your problem accounts that need immediate attention.

  • Credit policies: Evaluate the effectiveness of credit policies and practices, including clear terms for payments, penalties for late payments and potential incentives for early payments. Frequent or large balances in the older categories might indicate policies that are overly lenient or not enforced effectively.

  • Bad debt: Assess the risk of bad debts. The longer an invoice remains unpaid, the less likely it is that it will be paid: the 2022 Due analysis found that there's a very low chance – only 18% – that an invoice will be paid if it's not paid within 90 days of receipt.

  • Patterns or trends: Look for trends that may indicate broader issues, such as frequent delays from specific customers, or issues with particular products or services leading to disputes and delayed payments. Note which ageing periods are accumulating the most unpaid receivables.

Acting on the report

Use the insights gained from ageing reports to refine credit policies, improve customer communication strategies and enhance overall accounts receivable management processes. Based on the report, businesses might take the following action:

  • Prioritise collection efforts: Use the report to prioritise your collection activities. Focus on the oldest debts first, as they have a higher risk of turning into bad debt.

  • Send payment reminders: Get in touch with customers who have overdue accounts. Address any issues that arise, such as invoice disputes.

  • Pursue legal action: For accounts that remain unpaid for an extended period despite your efforts to collect them, consider whether it's worth pursuing legal action to recover the funds. This should be a last resort, as it can be costly and time consuming.

  • Negotiate payment plans: Businesses can negotiate payment plans with customers to gradually recover any amounts owed.

  • Adjust credit policies: If you notice a pattern of late payments from certain customers or industries, it may be time to review and possibly adjust your credit terms for those groups. Businesses can adjust credit terms to require quicker payments or move to prepayment or cash on delivery (COD) terms.

  • Forecast cash flow: Adjust your financial forecasting based on how much money the report shows should be coming in.

  • Write off bad debt: If the debt is deemed unrecoverable, the business may decide to write off the amount as a bad debt expense.

  • Implement proactive measures: Consider taking proactive measures, such as conducting credit checks on new customers or requiring deposits or partial payments up front for large orders or services.

How to calculate accounts receivable ageing

  • Gather invoice data
    Collect all outstanding invoices. Document the invoice date, customer name and amount due.

  • Determine the ageing periods
    Decide on the time frames you want to use for ageing the receivables.

  • Categorise each invoice
    Calculate the number of days each invoice has been outstanding. Categorise it into the appropriate ageing period.

  • Calculate customer totals
    Organise invoices by customer and ageing period. Calculate the total amount owed by each customer for each ageing period.

  • Create the report
    Prepare a table or spreadsheet that lists each customer along the vertical axis and the ageing categories along the horizontal axis. Fill in the table with the summed amounts for each customer and category. Add a total at the bottom of each column to see the total amount of receivables in each ageing category.

Sample calculation

For this sample calculation, imagine a company with three outstanding invoices:

  • Invoice A: US$1,000, issued 20 days ago

  • Invoice B: US$2,000, issued 40 days ago

  • Invoice C: US$3,000, issued 75 days ago

The ageing calculation would place invoice A in the 0 to 30 days category, invoice B in the 31 to 60 days category and invoice C in the 61 to 90 days category. The report would reflect these categorisations and add up the amounts for each category for a total of US$1,000 owed in 0 to 30, US$2,000 owed in 31 to 60 and US$3,000 owed in 61 to 90.

Benefits of accounts receivable ageing

  • Improved cash flow management: By staying on top of overdue invoices, businesses can ensure that they have the necessary funds for operations and investments.

  • Reduced bad debt: By identifying and acting on overdue accounts promptly, businesses can reduce the likelihood of accounts becoming uncollectible.

  • Customer credit checks: The ageing report allows businesses to assess their customers' credit and adjust their credit terms accordingly.

  • More efficient collections process: Accounts receivable ageing reports allow businesses to implement strategic collections processes that prioritise the most overdue accounts.

  • Informed financial planning: The ageing report provides a clear picture of expected cash inflows from receivables, informing financial planning.

  • Regulatory compliance and reporting: Accounts receivable ageing reports help businesses demonstrate compliance and meet reporting requirements.

  • Better relationship management: Businesses can use accounts receivable ageing reports to identify customers who may be facing financial difficulties and communicate with them to find solutions that are mutually beneficial – contributing to a positive customer relationship.

The content of this article is for general information and education purposes only and should not be construed as legal or tax advice. Stripe does not warrant or guarantee the accuracy, completeness, adequacy or currency of the information in the article. You should seek the advice of a competent lawyer or accountant who is licenced to practice in your jurisdiction for advice on your particular situation.

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