ELFA’s Website Offers Wider Range of Resources for Financing Equipment

Visitors to the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association‘s end-user website, Equipment Finance Advantage, will find new enhancements that make it a more powerful resource for helping businesses take advantage of the benefits of financing equipment. The site, found at www.EquipmentFinanceAdvantage.org, has improved navigation for a better user experience and offers a wider range of resources focused on how companies of all types and sizes can use leasing and financing to their strategic advantage to acquire the equipment they need to operate and grow. ELFA launched the original Equipment Finance Advantage website two years ago.

Highlights of the site’s user-friendly content include:

  • Equipment Finance 101: Overview of the benefits of equipment finance, the types of financing, the top 10 questions to ask before entering an equipment financing agreement, a customizable digital toolkit and more.
  • Success Stories: Real-world examples of companies using equipment finance for strategic advantage.
  • Resources: How-to articles, Q&As, updated end-user industry fact sheets, infographics and more to help businesses develop their financing strategy.
  • Videos: A series of short videos on a range of topics, from maximizing cash flow to staying ahead of the curve to end-of-lease factors to consider.
  • Find a Provider: A searchable list of ELFA members that provide equipment leasing and finance services.

“The critical role the $903 billion equipment finance industry plays in the U.S. economy, manufacturing and jobs is fundamentally because of the participation of individual businesses,” says ELFA President and CEO William G. Sutton, CAE. “They have found the information at Equipment Finance Advantage to be an invaluable resource informing their equipment leasing and financing decision-making during the past two years, and we are excited to offer the newly upgraded EFA website to help keep them up-to-date with the latest research and informational content available.”

ELFA Reveals Top 10 Equipment Acquisition Trends

The Equipment Leasing and Finance Association (ELFA) which represents the $903 billion equipment finance sector, has revealed its Top 10 Equipment Acquisition Trends for 2015. Given U.S. businesses, nonprofits and government agencies will spend nearly $1.5 trillion in capital goods or fixed business investment (including software) this year, financing a majority of those assets, these trends impact a significant portion of the U.S. economy. Businesses will find opportunities presented by a steadily improving economy and favorable credit conditions as they make their decisions for equipment replacement and expansion.

ELFA President and CEO William G. Sutton, CAE, says, “Equipment financing is a critical source of funding for a majority of U.S. businesses, allowing them to acquire the equipment they need to operate and grow. It enables equipment acquisition, which plays a critical role in driving the supply chains across all U.S. manufacturing and service sectors. To assist businesses in planning their acquisition strategies, we have distilled recent research data, including the Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation’s 2015 Equipment Leasing & Finance U.S. Economic Outlook Report, industry participants’ expertise and member input from ELFA meetings and conferences to provide our best insight for the Top 10 Equipment Acquisition Trends for 2015.”

ELFA forecasts the following Top 10 Equipment Acquisition Trends for 2015:

  • 1. Investment in equipment and software will reach an all-time high in 2015. As the U.S. economy continues to improve, business investment is forecast to reach a record $1.484 trillion in 2015. As business investment grows, demand for equipment financing will increase.
  • 2. Businesses will invest in equipment not just to replace aging assets, but also to aid in expansion. The pent-up replacement demand that has driven equipment investment in previous years may be supplemented by long-awaited expansion investment as capacity utilization rates in some industries reach or surpass levels historically known to spur business investment. Industries poised for investment growth include oil and gas extraction and transportation equipment manufacturing.
  • 3. While some equipment types will see strong growth, others will moderate. In 2014, equipment and software investment increased 9.6 percent in Q2 and 9.3 percent in Q3. Looking ahead, growth in equipment and software investment is expected to moderate somewhat, as it is unlikely to keep up the strong pace seen in Q2 and Q3. A still healthy growth rate of 6 percent is forecast for 2015. Aircraft, trucks and other industrial equipment are projected to be among the higher growth types, while agriculture, computers and software are expected to see slower growth.
  • 4. Improving market conditions will continue to increase credit supply and demand for equipment acquisitions. As the economy steadily improves and business confidence continues to increase, credit standards should modestly loosen. The propensity to finance decreased in the wake of the financial crisis as businesses deleveraged and refrained from new business investment. Since bottoming out in 2010, the rate at which businesses finance their capital spending has grown consistently and will continue to increase in 2015 with steady economic recovery and shifts in Federal Reserve policy.
  • 5. Eyes will be on short-term interest rate increases. Expectations for the Federal Reserve to raise short-term interest rates in 2015 should spur equipment investment as businesses seek to lock in equipment financing at lower rates. Despite rate increases, businesses will find that a highly competitive “buyer’s market” will continue to make financing an attractive option for acquiring equipment.
  • 6. Businesses will use financing for a majority of their plant, equipment and software expenditures. In 2015, 62 percent or $922 billion of investment in plant, equipment and software in the United States is expected to be financed through loans, leases and lines of credit. A majority of businesses—seven out of 10—will use at least one form of financing to acquire equipment.
  • 7. Advances in the use of technology will drive innovative financing options. Equipment finance providers are streamlining their business processes and improving customer self-service capabilities using digital technologies. At the same time, some end-users are moving away from traditional equipment consumption models and toward hosted or managed services based on usage rather than total ownership. To meet customer demand and address evolving technology equipment requirements, equipment finance companies will tailor innovative financial offerings.
  • 8. Several “wild cards” could impact equipment acquisition decisions. In what could be a breakout year for the U.S. economy, positive and negative external risks could affect equipment investment. Potential political gridlock, global economic weakness and geopolitical risks could be a drag on investment decisions, but GDP growth from low oil prices, a potential surge in the housing sector and sufficient capacity utilization could have firms ramping up capital expenditures.
  • 9. Nontraditional financing will continue to grow and play a larger role in the equipment finance industry. As regulatory scrutiny increases and some banks’ lending standards tighten for certain credits, nontraditional financing sources, such as investment bankers, venture capitalists, insurance companies, crowd funders and others, are exploring opportunities in the equipment finance sector.
  • 10. A final lease accounting standard will be released. The Financial Accounting Standards Board and the International Accounting Standards Board continue to work on the lease accounting project, which will change how leases are accounted for on corporate balance sheets. A final standard is anticipated in 2015, with a possible effective date of 2018 or later. The good news is that the benefits of leasing equipment will remain intact despite the lease accounting proposal.

Equipment Leasing Shows New Business Volume Is Increasing

The Equipment Leasing and Finance Association’s (ELFA) Monthly Leasing and Finance Index (MLFI-25), which reports economic activity from 25 companies representing a cross section of the $827 billion equipment finance sector, showed their overall new business volume for March was $7 billion, up 3 percent from new business volume in March 2013. Month-over-month, new business volume was up 30 percent from February. Year to date, cumulative new business volume increased 6 percent compared to 2013.

Receivables over 30 days increased to 2.1 percent from 1.8 percent the previous month, and were up slightly from 2.0 percent during the same period in 2013. Charge-offs were down at a new all-time low of 0.2 percent from 0.4 percent the previous month.

Credit approvals totaled 77.8 percent in March, an increase from 75.3 percent the previous month. Sixty-five percent of participating organizations reported submitting more transactions for approval during March, an increase from 53 percent during February.

Finally, total headcount for equipment finance companies was up 4.4 percent year over year.

Separately, the Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation’s Monthly Confidence Index (MCI-EFI) for April is 65.1, remaining at the highest index level in two years for the second consecutive month.

ELFA President and CEO William G. Sutton, CAE, said: “Equipment finance companies in almost all industry sectors are reporting a strong first quarter of the year. The March data showing new business volume clearly provides evidence of a strong first quarter looking back and a positive forecast for future activity. The Federal Reserve recently hinted at continuing a monetary policy that will promote a sustained low interest rate environment at least for the foreseeable future, which is giving the business community a reason to feel confident about the overall trajectory of the U.S. economy and make capital investments in their businesses. Credit quality metrics are mixed, with delinquencies edging upward counterbalanced by monthly losses reaching historic lows. Another positive sign for the industry is the trend toward increased hiring during the past 10 months.”

Brian J. Griffin, Senior Vice President, Leasing, MB Financial Bank, N.A., said, “The continued strong metrics measured by the MLFI-25 reflect the ongoing strength of the economy and, more specifically, the leasing industry. Of particular significance is the dramatic increase in new business volume from February, the record low charge-off percentage and the continued increase in headcount in the industry. If medium- and long-term rates can remain relatively stable, these results bode well for continued growth for the balance of the year.”

The MLFI-25 is the only index that reflects capex, or the volume of commercial equipment financed in the U.S. The MLFI-25 is released globally at 8 a.m. Eastern time from Washington, D.C., each month on the day before the U.S. Department of Commerce releases the durable goods report. The MLFI-25 is a financial indicator that complements the durable goods report and other economic indexes, including the Institute for Supply Management Index, which reports economic activity in the manufacturing sector. Together with the MLFI-25 these reports provide a complete view of the status of productive assets in the U.S. economy: equipment produced, acquired and financed.

The MLFI-25 is a time series that reflects two years of business activity for the 25 companies currently participating in the survey.

ELFA Monthly Leasing and Finance Index Provides a Survey of Economic Activity

The Equipment Leasing and Finance Association’s (ELFA) Monthly Leasing and Finance Index (MLFI-25), which reports economic activity from 25 companies representing a cross section of the $827 billion equipment finance sector, showed its overall new business volume for January was $6 billion, up 2 percent from new business volume in January 2013. Volume was down 44 percent from December, following the typical end-of-quarter, end-of-year spike in new business activity.

Receivables over 30 days were at 1.8 percent in January, down slightly from 1.9 percent in December. Delinquencies were unchanged from the same period in 2013. Charge-offs were unchanged from the previous two months at the all-time low of 0.3 percent.

Credit approvals totaled 76.9 percent in January, a decrease from 78.3 percent the previous month. Fifty-four percent of participating organizations reported submitting more transactions for approval during January, a decrease from 57 percent December.

Finally, total headcount for equipment finance companies was up 0.7 percent year over year.

Separately, the Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation’s Monthly Confidence Index (MCI-EFI) for February is 63.3, the second highest index in two years and off slightly from last month’s two-year index high of 64.9.

ELFA President and CEO William G. Sutton, CAE, said: “At the start of the new year, equipment finance activity picked up where it left off for most of 2013. New business volume shows modest, incremental growth while credit losses continue at historic lows. With fiscal pressures in Washington subsiding, at least for the time being, and most major U.S. economic indicators showing positive signs, we are hopeful that these factors will help promote a favorable climate for continued investment by U.S. businesses in capital equipment in 2014 and beyond.”

Martha Ahlers, VP/COO, United Leasing Inc., added: “The Monthly Confidence Index results for the last two reported periods provide continued optimism for the year ahead. Beginning 2014 with a 63.3 MCI, the 2nd highest mark in the last 24 months, is also extremely promising and serves as evidence of stability and positive velocity within our industry. In the Monthly Leasing and Finance Index, origination volumes year-over-year are also up, while maintaining historically low delinquency and charge-offs—an indication of continued health. The combination of these positive indicators creates a huge amount of excitement for potential growth.”

About ELFA’s MLFI-25
The MLFI-25 is the only index that reflects capex, or the volume of commercial equipment financed in the U.S. The MLFI-25 is released globally at 8 a.m. Eastern time from Washington, D.C., each month on the day before the U.S. Department of Commerce releases the durable goods report. The MLFI-25 is a financial indicator that complements the durable goods report and other economic indexes, including the Institute for Supply Management Index, which reports economic activity in the manufacturing sector. Together with the MLFI-25 these reports provide a complete view of the status of productive assets in the U.S. economy: equipment produced, acquired and financed.

The MLFI-25 is a time series that reflects two years of business activity for the 25 companies currently participating in the survey. The latest MLFI-25, including methodology and participants is available below and also at http://www.elfaonline.org/Research/MLFI/

MLFI-25 Methodology
The ELFA produces the MLFI-25 survey to help member organizations achieve competitive advantage by providing them with leading-edge research and benchmarking information to support strategic business decision making.

The MLFI-25 is a barometer of the trends in U.S. capital equipment investment. Five components are included in the survey: new business volume (originations), aging of receivables, charge-offs, credit approval ratios, (approved vs. submitted) and headcount for the equipment finance business.

The MLFI-25 measures monthly commercial equipment lease and loan activity as reported by participating ELFA member equipment finance companies representing a cross section of the equipment finance sector, including small ticket, middle-market, large ticket, bank, captive and independent leasing and finance companies. Based on hard survey data, the responses mirror the economic activity of the broader equipment finance sector and current business conditions nationally.

ELFA MLFI-25 Participants

ADP Credit
BancorpSouth Equipment Finance
Bank of America
Bank of the West
BB&T Bank
BMO Harris Equipment Finance
Canon Financial Services
Caterpillar Financial Services
CIT
De Lage Landen Financial Services
Dell Financial Services
Direct Capital Corporation
EverBank Commercial Finance
Fifth Third Equipment Finance
First American Equipment Finance, a City National Bank Company
GreatAmerica Financial Services
Hitachi Credit America
HP Financial Services
Huntington Equipment Finance
John Deere Financial
Key Equipment Finance
LEAF Commercial Capital
M&T Bank
Marlin Leasing
Merchants Capital
PNC Equipment Finance
RBS Asset Finance
SG Equipment Finance
Siemens Financial Services
Stearns Bank
Suntrust
Susquehanna Commercial Finance
TCF Equipment Finance
US Bancorp Equipment Finance
Verizon Capital
Volvo Financial Services
Wells Fargo Equipment Finance

Resources to Assist with Equipment Finance

The Equipment Leasing and Finance Association has released three resources to help businesses take advantage of the benefits of equipment finance. The multimedia resources—a video, digital toolkit and an infographic—highlight how companies of all types and sizes can use leasing and financing to their strategic advantage to acquire the equipment they need to operate and grow. The tools are available on the association’s website.