Accounting firms and other businesses are getting paid more slowly for their goods and services, according to a new report.

Consulting services waited nearly 10 days longer in 2012 than in 2011 to collect money due, according to data from the financial information company Sageworks. Accounting firms and computer systems design companies waited an average of roughly five days longer. On average, private companies waited nearly four more days to get paid than in the previous year. However, Sageworks also offered an important caveat.

“These figures vary considerably depending on the nature of each industry,” said Sageworks analyst Libby Bierman. “Seasonality and specific industry practices play a factor, so there isn’t necessarily a set ‘standard’ so to speak. That being said, we’re seeing that many or most companies in our database waited significantly longer for payments from customers in 2012 than previous years.  When people are holding onto their cash, it may indicate a lack of confidence in the economy. And, that doesn’t bode well for the businesses that may have to worry about cash on hand.”

To be sure, delaying payments is not a new practice by any means among private companies. But the trend appears to be on the rise among publicly traded companies as well, including large ones like Procter & Gamble, DuPont, J.C. Penney and others, according to a recent Wall Street Journal report.

 

 

Industry

Financial Metric

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

5416 - Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services (private)

Accounts Receivable Days

50.7

52.4

51.9

47.7

56.7

5413 - Architectural, Engineering, and Related Services (private)

Accounts Receivable Days

58.4

61.0

59.6

56.4

60.3

5415 - Computer Systems Design and Related Services (private)

Accounts Receivable Days

46.7

47.5

48.9

46.1

50.9

5412 - Accounting, Tax Preparation, Bookkeeping, and Payroll Services (private)

Accounts Receivable Days

29.2

36.7

30.8

39.7

45.2

5617 - Services to Buildings and Dwellings (private)

Accounts Receivable Days

25.2

24.7

25.3

26.9

30.5

 

 

Industry

Financial Metric

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

All Industries

Accounts Receivable Days

41.2

39.8

39.5

38.3

41.9