New business volume grew 6.7% in the equipment finance industry in 2014, according to the 2015 Survey of Equipment Finance Activity (SEFA) released by the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association (ELFA). The rise in new business volume marked the fifth consecutive year that businesses increased their spending on capital equipment. The SEFA report, now celebrating its 40th year, covers key statistical, financial and operations information for the $903 billion equipment finance industry, based on a comprehensive survey of 100 ELFA member companies.
ELFA also released a companion report to the 2015 SEFA called the 2015 Small-Ticket Survey of Equipment Finance Activity. The report, which focuses on small-ticket and micro-ticket equipment transactions among the SEFA respondents, found that new business volume in the small-ticket space grew by 7.1% in 2014.
“We are pleased to present the 2015 Survey of Equipment Finance Activity. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the report, which has grown over the years into the most important source of statistical information available on the $903 billion equipment finance industry,” said William G. Sutton, CAE, ELFA President and CEO. “The data show that the equipment finance industry is healthy and growing, continuing an upward trend since the end of the Great Recession. More recent data collected in 2015 indicate that positive momentum is continuing, with member companies reporting solid new business growth and portfolio performance. We remain cautiously optimistic that demand for capital equipment will continue to drive positive growth for the equipment finance industry.”
Key findings for 2014 as reported in the 2015 SEFA include:
• Overall new business volume grew 6.7%.
o Positive trend: In 2014, the 6.7% growth rate was lower than the previous three years, but it still surpassed the 2.4% rate of growth for the U.S. economy. New business volume increased for the fifth year in a row, following increases of 9.3% in 2013, 16.4% in 2012, 16.5% in 2011 and 3.9% in 2010, and a decline of 30.3% in 2009.
o By organization type: Independent equipment finance organizations led the industry in new business volume growth for a third straight year. Independents saw a 17.6% increase in new business volume, while banks saw their volume grow by 7.4% and captives saw a 1.3% increase.
o By market segment: New business volume varied by market segment, growing 9% in the small-ticket segment and 7.9% in the middle-ticket segment, and falling 2.4% in the large-ticket segment.
• From an asset perspective, the top-five most-financed equipment types were transportation, IT and related technology services, agricultural, construction and industrial/manufacturing equipment. The top five end-user industries representing the largest share of new business volume were services, agriculture, industrial/manufacturing, transportation and wholesale/retail.
• Overall, cost of funds increased slightly. Competitive pressure continued to drive pre-tax spreads down in 2014 to 2.8%, its lowest level in five years.
• Assets under management grew 8.6%. Return on assets remained steady at a healthy 1.7%, unchanged since 2012.
• Net income increased 15.2%. Return on average equity decreased slightly, but remained strong at 16.6%.
• Overall, delinquencies remained steady. Full-year losses or charge-offs fell close to 0.0% overall.
• Credit approvals decreased slightly while the percentage of approved applications being booked and funded remained steady.
• Employment levels grew moderately by 1.7%, with headcount in sales and marketing increasing and servicing declining slightly. There was a significant increase in headcount associated with compliance.