The Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation released the March 2023 Monthly Confidence Index for the Equipment Finance Industry on March 16. The index reports a qualitative assessment of both the prevailing business conditions and expectations for the future, as reported by key executives from the $1 trillion equipment finance sector. Overall, confidence in the equipment finance market is 50.3, a decrease from the February index of 51.8.
“As the pandemic becomes farther in the rear-view mirror, industries affected such as livery, fitness, entertainment and hospitality are now showing strong demand for equipment,” said MCI-EFI survey respondent Nancy Pistorio, Foundation Chair and President at Madison Capital LLC, when asked about the outlook for the future.
March 2023 Survey Results
The overall MCI-EFI is 50.3, a decrease from the February index of 51.8.
- When asked to assess their business conditions over the next four months, 10.7 percent of the executives responding said they believe business conditions will improve over that timeframe, a decrease from 16.1 percent in February. 57.1 percent believe business conditions will remain the same over the next four months, down from 61.3 percent the previous month. 32.1 percent believe business conditions will worsen, an increase from 22.6 percent in February.
- 10.7 percent of the survey respondents believe demand for leases and loans to fund capital expenditures will increase over the next four months, an increase from 9.7 percent in February. 67.9 percent believe demand will “remain the same” during the same time period, a decrease from 71 percent the previous month. 21.4 percent believe demand will decline, up from 19.4 percent in February.
- 17.9 percent of the respondents expect more access to capital to fund equipment acquisitions over the next four months, up from 12.9 percent in February. 71.4 percent of executives indicate they expect the “same” access to capital to fund business, a decrease from 74.2 percent last month. 10.7 percent expect “less” access to capital, down from 12.9 percent the previous month.
- When asked, 35.7 percent of the executives report they expect to hire more employees over the next four months, a decrease from 38.7 percent in February. 57.1 percent expect no change in headcount over the same timeframe, an increase from 54.8 percent last month. 7.1 percent expect to hire fewer employees, up from 6.5 percent in February.
- 3.7 percent of the leadership evaluate the current U.S. economy as “excellent,” up from none the previous month. 88.9 percent of the leadership evaluate the current U.S. economy as “fair,” up from 87.1 percent in February. 7.4 percent evaluate it as “poor,” a decrease from 12.9 percent last month.
- 3.6 percent of the survey respondents believe that U.S. economic conditions will get “better” over the next six months, a slight increase from 3.2 percent in February. 53.6 percent indicate they believe the U.S. economy will “stay the same” over the same timeframe, a decrease from 54.8 percent last month. 42.9 percent believe economic conditions in the U.S. will worsen over the next six months, an increase from 41.9 percent the previous month.
- In March, 39.3 percent of respondents indicate they believe their company will increase spending on business development activities during the next six months, down from 51.6 percent the previous month. 53.6 percent believe there will be “no change” in business development spending, up from 41.9 percent in February. 7.1 percent believe there will be a decrease in spending, up from 6.5 percent last month.
March 2023 MCI-EFI Survey Comment from Industry Executive Leadership
Bank, Small Ticket
“Wintrust is well-positioned to grow during this time of uncertainty, given our strong balance sheet and commitment to the equipment finance space and our customers,” said David Normandin, President and Chief Executive Officer at Wintrust Specialty Finance.
About the MCI
Why an MCI-EFI?
Confidence in the U.S. economy and the capital markets is a critical driver to the equipment finance industry. Throughout history, when confidence increases, consumers and businesses are more apt to acquire more consumer goods, equipment and durables, and invest at prevailing prices. When confidence decreases, spending and risk-taking tend to fall. Investors are said to be confident when the news about the future is good and stock prices are rising.
Who participates in the MCI-EFI?
The respondents are comprised of a wide cross-section of industry executives, including large-ticket, middle-market and small-ticket banks, independents and captive equipment finance companies. The MCI-EFI uses the same pool of 50 organization leaders to respond monthly to ensure the survey’s integrity. Since the same organizations provide the data from month to month, the results constitute a consistent barometer of the industry's confidence.
How is the MCI-EFI designed?
The survey consists of seven questions and an area for comments, asking the respondents’ opinions about the following:
- Current business conditions.
- Expected product demand over the next four months.
- Access to capital over the next four months.
- Future employment conditions.
- Evaluation of the current U.S. economy.
- U.S. economic conditions over the next six months.
- Business development spending expectations.
- Open-ended question for comment.