ELFF’s COVID-19 Impact Survey Reveals Portfolio Performance, Work-From-Home Expectations

The Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation released the results of its first quarterly COVID-19 Impact and Recovery Survey, revealing equipment finance companies’ work-from-home practices and performance of portfolio metrics, including deferrals, defaults and originations.

The COVID-19 Impact and Recovery Survey was revised and expanded from the ELFF’s COVID-19 Impact Survey of the Equipment Finance Industry, which was launched in May 2020, in order to reflect longer-term effects of the pandemic’s impact on equipment finance companies.

Survey Highlights

Work from Home

  • The overall level of working from home pre-pandemic was 28% among survey respondents. The larger the lender (by annual origination volume), the less likely they were to have a work-from-home rate of 50% or greater before the pandemic.
  • About 85% of all lender sizes were mostly working from home at the beginning of 2021.
  • By 2022, survey respondents expect work-from-home rates to be cut in half, with the portion of lenders having more than 50% work-from-home rates going from 84% down to 41%.
  • 40% of organizations of $1 billion or more are expecting to be mostly working from home next year compared with only 7% of such organizations before the pandemic.
  • 60% of captives expect to be mostly working from home in 2022. None had a 50% or greater work-from-home rate before the pandemic.


  • Deferral rates are down 90% from their peak in 2020.
  • No lenders have more than 10% of their portfolios in deferral currently.
  • The vast majority of borrowers that had deferrals (93.6%) are now paying as agreed.


  • Default rates in 2020 (0.92%) were up from 2019 (0.73%) but not by much.
  • 2021 default rates (0.52%) are expected to be lower than those in 2019, with the combined average of 2020 and 2021 equaling the rate of 2019.


  • Survey respondents reported only a 1% decline in originations in 2020.
  • 45% of respondents reported increased volume in 2020. Lenders originating fewer than $1 billion reported 34% growth in 2021.
  • Expectations for 2021 are for 18% overall growth.

“The COVID-19 Impact and Recovery Survey is the kind of timely, in-depth, forward-looking research the foundation is committed to bringing to the industry,” Tom Ware, a trustee of the ELFF and the organization’s research committee chair, said. “These survey results show the strength and resilience of the equipment finance industry overall in coming through the pandemic and the ways in which our workforce will continue to be impacted long after.”

COVID-19 Impact and Recovery Survey Comments from Industry Leadership

“Short term, we are still seeing the impacts from [the Paycheck Protection Program]. Medium term, we expect some winners and losers along asset classes, and long term, we are optimistic about the business community and investment in assets,” David Normandin, CLFP, president and CEO of Wintrust Specialty Finance, said.

“We see an uptick in the short term as vaccinations are rolled out. Hopefully we can reach herd immunity in the second half of the year and approach a level of activity consistent with the pre-pandemic economy,” Steve Grant, CFO of Americorp Financial, said.

“The equipment finance industry generally will continue to grow along with the economy in the short, medium and long term. However, with the Biden administration’s emphasis on infrastructure, it is likely that we will see an increase beyond the general economy,” Jonathan Ruga, CEO of Sentry Financial, said.

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