What is the purpose of assigning accounts receivable?

The purpose of assigning accounts receivable is to provide collateral in order to obtain a loan.

To illustrate, let's assume that a corporation receives a special order from a new customer whose credit rating is superb. However, the customer pays for its purchases 90 days after it receives the goods. The corporation does not have sufficient money to purchase the raw materials, pay for the labor, and then wait 90 days to collect the receivable. The corporation's bank or a finance company may lend 80% of the receivable but insists that the receivable be assigned to them as collateral for the loan.

Assigning a specific account receivable usually results in recording the receivable in a separate general ledger account such as Accounts Receivable Assigned. Some lenders require that the corporation's customer be notified of the assignment and that the customer must remit the receivable amount directly to the bank.

Instead of assigning a specific receivable, the lender may require the corporation to assign all of its receivable as collateral for a loan.