Washington, DC — The Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation  (the Foundation) releases the January 2014 Monthly Confidence Index for the Equipment Finance Industry  (MCI-EFI) today. Designed to collect leadership data, the index reports a qualitative assessment of both the prevailing business conditions and expectations for the future as reported by key executives from the $827 billion equipment finance sector. Overall, confidence in the equipment finance market is 64.9, the highest confidence level in two years, and an increase from the December index of 55.8. An improved general outlook for economic activity among industry leadership contributed to the increase.
When asked about the outlook for the future, MCI survey respondent David Schaefer, CEO, Mintaka Financial, LLC, said, “We’re optimistic about 2014 as we come off of a very strong Q4. The recent federal budget deal is positive since it takes some uncertainty out of the market. Employment gains were also positive and this should bring more equipment demand and, therefore, financing opportunities. Margins are still being compressed as capital is abundant but demand remains fairly neutral.”
January 2014 Survey Results:
The overall MCI-EFI is 64.9, an increase from the December index of 55.8.
- When asked to assess their business conditions over the next four months, 33 percent of executives responding said they believe business conditions will improve over the next four months, up from 12 percent in December. 61 percent of respondents believe business conditions will remain the same over the next four months, down from 78.8 percent in December. 5.6 percent believe business conditions will worsen, down from 9 percent who believed so the previous month.
- 36 percent of survey respondents believe demand for leases and loans to fund capital expenditures (capex) will increase over the next four months, up from 15.2 percent in December. 61 percent believe demand will “remain the same” during the same four-month time period, down from 78.8 percent the previous month. 2.8 percent believe demand will decline, down from 9 percent who believed so in December.
- 25 percent of executives expect more access to capital to fund equipment acquisitions over the next four months, relatively unchanged from December. 75 percent of survey respondents indicate they expect the “same” access to capital to fund business, and no one expects “less” access to capital, both also unchanged from the previous month.
- When asked, 33 percent of the executives reported they expect to hire more employees over the next four months, an increase from 27.3 percent in December. 58.3 percent expect no change in headcount over the next four months, down from 60.6 percent last month. 8.3 percent expect fewer employees, down from 12 percent who expected fewer employees in December.
- 2.8 percent of the leadership evaluates the current U.S. economy as “excellent,” down from 6 percent last month. 94.4 percent of the leadership evaluates the current U.S. economy as “fair,” up from 85 percent last month. 2.8 percent rate it as “poor,” down from 9 percent in December.
- 41.7 percent of the of survey respondents believe that U.S. economic conditions will get “better” over the next six months, an increase from 24.2 percent who believed so in December. 55.6 percent of survey respondents indicate they believe the U.S. economy will “stay the same” over the next six months, a decrease from 66.7 percent in December. 2.6 percent believe economic conditions in the U.S. will worsen over the next six months, a decrease from 9 percent last month.
- In January, 55.6 percent of respondents indicate they believe their company will increase spending on business development activities during the next six months, an increase from 30.3 percent in December. 39 percent believe there will be “no change” in business development spending, a decrease from 66.7 percent last month. 5.6 percent believe there will be a decrease in spending, an increase from 3 percent who believed so last month.
January 2014 MCI Survey Comments from Industry Executive Leadership:
Bank, Small Ticket
“December was the best origination month we've had in five years. While January is experiencing the seasonal holiday hangover, small businesses seem now inclined to invest in capital equipment again.” Paul Menzel, President & CEO, Financial Pacific Leasing, LLC
Independent, Small Ticket
“I am optimistic that the economy seems to be gaining some momentum, even though there is still much uncertainty as it relates to the Affordable Care Act, congressional budgeting and Dodd-Frank. Businesses have made up their minds to grow in spite of a less than nurturing regulatory environment. The concerns I have are centered around risk/ return for the industry and an unclear view of the economy over the next 12- 24 months.” Valerie Hayes Jester, President, Brandywine Capital Associates, Inc.
Bank, Middle Ticket
“I am cautiously optimistic. Customers have indicated that they will replace and slightly expand in 2014 to meet the additional needs of their customers.” Elaine Temple, President, BancorpSouth Equipment Finance
Bank, Middle Ticket
“I believe the general outlook for economic activity has swung to the positive. As a result, companies will likely begin to make substantial investments in the growth of their companies.
The equipment finance market will benefit as a result of this increased investment.” Thomas Jaschik, President, BB&T Equipment Finance
About the Foundation
The Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation is a 501c3 non-profit organization that provides vision for the equipment leasing and finance industry through future-focused information and research. Funded through charitable individual and corporate donations, the Foundation is the only organization dedicated to future-oriented, in-depth, independent research for the leasing industry. In 2014, the Foundation celebrates its 25th anniversary. Visit the Foundation online at http://www.LeaseFoundation.org 
Overall, confidence in the equipment finance market is 64.9, the highest confidence level in two years, and an increase from the December index of 55.8. An improved general outlook for economic activity among industry leadership contributed to the increase.