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EF Firms Expect Work from Home to Be Cut in Half by 2022, ELFF COVID-19 Survey

May 27, 2021, 07:25 AM

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 is revised and expanded from the Foundation’s COVID-19 Impact Survey of the Equipment Finance Industry launched in May 2020, to reflect longer-term effects of the pandemic’s impact on equipment finance companies going forward.

Among the survey highlights:

Work from Home (WFH):
• The level of WFH pre-pandemic overall was 28 percent. The larger the lender (by annual origination volume) the fewer that were 50 percent+ WFH before the pandemic.
• About 85 percent of all lender sizes were mostly WFH at the beginning of 2021.
• By 2022, management expect WFH to be cut in half, with the portion of lenders having 50 percent+ WFH going from 84 percent currently down to 41 percent.
   o 40 percent of $1 billion+ organizations are expecting to be mostly WFH next year, compared to only 7 percent pre-pandemic.
   o 60 percent of captives expect to be mostly WFH in 2022. None were 50+ percent WFH before the pandemic.  


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


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


  • Survey respondents reported only a 1 percent decline overall in originations in 2020.
  • 45 percent reported increased volume in 2020. Lenders originating less than $1B reported 34 percent growth in 2021.
  • Expectations for 2021 are for significant growth, 18 percent overall.

“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,” said Tom Ware, Foundation Trustee and Research Committee Chair. “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.”  

Survey Comments from Industry Executive Leadership

Bank, Small Ticket
“Short term we are still seeing the impacts from PPP. 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, Wintrust Specialty Finance

Independent, Small Ticket
“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, Americorp Financial, LLC

Independent, Middle Ticket
“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, Sentry Financial Corporation

Survey responses were collected from 64 equipment finance company executives from April 1-28, 2021. Results are available online here.

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