ELFF Survey Shows Positive Portfolio Performance and Increased Staffing Levels



The Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation released the results of its second quarterly COVID-19 Impact and Recovery Survey, which reveal equipment finance companies’ staffing performance, work-from-home expectations and portfolio metrics, including deferrals, defaults and originations. The COVID-19 Impact and Recovery Survey is designed to reflect longer-term effects of the pandemic’s impact on equipment finance companies going forward.

Among the survey highlights:

Staffing:

  • Staffing levels are up, even versus pre-COVID-19.
  • Small-ticket lenders/lessors expect to have 14% more FTEs by January 1, 2022, than they did on January 1, 2020. Two-thirds expect a double-digit increase in staffing.
  • Middle-ticket lenders/lessors expect a 7% increase.
  • Large-ticket lenders/lessors expect a 5% increase.
  • Banks and Independents both expect a 10% increase.
  • Captives expect only a 3% increase.

Work from Home (WFH):

  • Lenders of all types generally expect to be back in the office by 2022.
  • 50% of Banks, 50% of Captives and 39% of Independents expect 0% or 10% WFH in 2022.
  • Only 5% of Banks, 13% of Captives and 22% of Independents expect WFH to substantially continue for 75% or more of their employees.
  • Overall, on average, 69% of staff were WFH at the beginning of 2021, and respondents expected more than half of those WFH to return to the office by beginning of 2022, reducing WFH to 31%.

Deferrals:

  • At the peak of deferrals, lenders had about 8% of their portfolio in deferral. Overall deferrals are now down to 1.7%; for banks deferrals are down to 0.6%, Independents 3%, and Captives 8%.
  • 10% of lenders never had any deferrals.
  • 55% have no deferrals currently.
  • 25% of lenders are still at their peak deferral percentage.

 Defaults:

  • Overall, default rates in 2021 are expected to be well below 2020 levels, and even below 2019 levels.
  • Large ticket expectations for the 2021 default rate are even with 2019, at 0.17%
  • Middle ticket expects 0.22%, well below the 0.38% seen in 2020.
  • Small ticket expects a 0.37% default rate this year, not much more than half of 0.67% in 2020, and well below 0.58% in 2019.

 Originations:

  • Captives expect a 22% increase in originations in 2021 vs. 2019, the largest increase of any lender type. However, Captives saw a 14% decrease in 2020, as compared to 2019, so net growth over the two-year period would only be 4%
  • Banks are expected to have double-digit growth in 2020 and 2021, amounting to 25% over the two-year period.
  • Independents were flat in 2020, but expect to be up 17% in 2021.

“The data in the COVID-19 Impact and Recovery Survey provide valuable insights of industry performance by lender type and ticket size for companies to gauge their own results,” Tom Ware, Foundation trustee and research committee chair, said. “Overall, the equipment finance industry appears to be coming through the pandemic stronger than ever, as indicated by metrics including expanding portfolios, positive portfolio performance and increases in new hires.”

COVID-19 Impact and Recovery Survey Comments from Industry Executive Leadership:

Bank, Small Ticket

“In the short term, the world-wide economy is recovering from the global pandemic of COVID-19. This means confidence in the stability of the markets is slowly recovering as supply chains slowly find a new path to stability. This directly affects the supply of commercial assets and their values. I think we will continue under these conditions through at least the end of 2021.    Mid-term I think we will see pent-up demand released as product becomes available. Long-term, our industry will continue to adapt to new technologies, regulation, employee desires and customer needs to thrive. I believe the best is in front of us if we continue to innovate with broad vision and courage,” David Normandin, CLFP, president and CEO, Wintrust Specialty Finance, said

Independent, Small Ticket

“While the pandemic negatively impacted equipment finance originations in many market segments, as we begin to emerge from COVID restrictions and economic uncertainty, many businesses will be feeling more confident about capital spending and taking on additional debt.  This should result in a notable increase in demand for our industry’s products and services over the next 18 months,” Nancy Pistorio, president, Madison Capital, said

“I see some slowdown as companies are assessing their needs and trying to determine their office space needs with employees now working out of office,” Steven Geller, manager, Leasing Solutions, said.

Bank, Middle Ticket

“Going forward I see our segment growing in the near and long-term future. I think near term we will continue to grapple with supply chain delays, but the need for financing will stay constant,” Marci Slagle, CLFP, president, BankFinancial, said.

Survey responses were collected from 64 equipment finance company executives from July 1-29, 2021. Results are available online. All Foundation studies are available for free download from the Foundation’s online library.

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