We’re fluent in startup finance. Now you can be too.

Learn more about common financial (and startup) terms here. To learn more about Pilot, fill out the form below.

Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Debt Covenant

What is a Debt Covenant?

A debt covenant is a legally binding agreement between a borrower and a lender, setting specific operational rules and restrictions to protect the lender's interests and ensure the borrower's financial stability. These covenants can be positive (affirmative), requiring the borrower to fulfill certain obligations; negative (restrictive), preventing high-risk actions without approval; and financial, involving the maintenance of specified credit ratios and operational metrics.

Types of Debt Covenants

  • Positive Covenants (Affirmative): Oblige the borrower to perform specific actions like maintaining certain financial ratios or submitting audited financial statements.
  • Negative Covenants (Restrictive): Prevent the borrower from engaging in certain activities that could increase risk, such as issuing excessive dividends or acquiring substantial new debt.
  • Financial Covenants: Require maintaining pre-specified credit ratios and performance metrics to ensure ongoing financial health.

Negotiating Debt Covenants

Negotiating debt covenants is essential for aligning the interests of borrowers and lenders. Effective negotiation strategies include:

  • Demonstrating the borrower's historical compliance and financial health.
  • Balancing protection of the lender's interests with the borrower’s operational flexibility.
  • Involving financial advisors to evaluate the impact of proposed covenants.

Violating and Waiving Debt Covenants

Violating a debt covenant can trigger penalties such as increased interest rates or demands for immediate loan repayment. Lenders might waive a violation under certain conditions, allowing the borrower to avoid stringent penalties while addressing financial or operational challenges. Such waivers can offer temporary relief but may also lead to adjustments in the lender’s risk assessment.

Importance of Debt Covenant Compliance

Compliance with debt covenants is crucial for maintaining a stable and mutually beneficial financial relationship between borrowers and lenders. Key benefits include:

  • Protection for Lenders: Limits potentially risky actions by the borrower, safeguarding the lender’s interests.
  • Lower Borrowing Costs: Secures lower interest rates for borrowers, reducing overall borrowing expenses.
  • Risk Mitigation: Prevents financial decisions that could jeopardize the borrower’s ability to fulfill repayment obligations.

Need help with other finance or startup questions?

Pilot provides bookkeeping, CFO, and tax services for literally thousands of startups and growing businesses. We've successfully processed over 10 million transactions for our customers and have unparalleled expertise when it comes to helping businesses succeed.

We're the largest startup-focused accounting firm in the United States, and we'd love to help you. To talk to an expert on our team and find out what Pilot can do for you, please click "Talk to an Expert" below, or email us at info@pilot.com.

See what Pilot can do for you

Get the peace of mind that comes from partnering with our experienced finance team.

Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.