This feature is the fifth in a series profiling associations connected to the heavy equipment industry. These important associations are the collective voice of the people who manufacture, buy, sell, rent, and finance equipment, ensuring they have the resources they need and that their voice is heard.
Name: Equipment Leasing and Finance Association (ELFA)
Year Founded: 1961
HQ: Washington D.C.
ELFA has six levels of membership. Regular Membership is open to companies involved in financing equipment, while Associate Membership is available to companies that don’t finance equipment, but are connected to or interested in equipment financing.
The association also allows international companies to gain membership in ELFA through the International Associate Membership level. The remaining three levels of membership are Arranger, Investor and Transitional.
Membership Size: More than 575 companies
ELFA’s mission has three components that manifest themselves in a variety of member benefits:
- Foster industry development
- Engage in industry advocacy
- Provide industry information and ethical standards
ELFA Goals in 2014
When Tuffwerx asked ELFA how the association is fulfilling its mission in 2014, we were given a collection of highlights.
Industry Information: ELFA’s market statistics, benchmarking and analyses offer essential insights into the equipment finance sector. In 2014, we have produced a wealth of information—from our Monthly Leasing & Finance Index, to our Survey of Equipment Finance Activity—to help our members compete in today’s dynamic economic and business climate and to examine the impact of the $827 billion equipment finance industry to the U.S. economy. In addition, our research affiliate, the Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation, has produced forward-looking research, including the Monthly Confidence Index, the quarterly Equipment Leasing & Finance U.S. Economic Outlook and a host of strategic market studies.
Advocacy: ELFA is the advocate for the equipment leasing and finance industry to the federal government, and also actively monitors state legislation and regulations that impact the industry around the nation. In 2014, we are engaging our members to ensure their voices are heard on public policy issues—from tax reform to Dodd-Frank—that have a direct impact on their companies, their communities, the broader equipment finance industry and the U.S. economy.
Business and Professional Development: ELFA delivers superior education and training to the equipment leasing and finance community through a variety of channels, including in-person conferences and workshops, executive roundtable discussions, web seminars, online courses and on-demand recorded conference sessions. In 2014, we’ve offered a full schedule of top-notch professional development events to help members network and learn strategies for pursuing their business objectives. Our biggest event of the year is the ELFA Annual Convention, which will take place in San Diego, October 19-21, 2014.
Industry Communications: As the leading voice for the industry, ELFA communicates the value of equipment finance to external audiences including the news media, policymakers, the industry customer base and the broader public. In 2014, we have educated end-users seeking to learn more about the benefits of equipment finance and how to incorporate equipment financing into their business strategies through new resources on our end-user website, EquipmentFinanceAdvantage.org, including videos, articles and infographics.
Structure and Member Benefits
ELFA functions through the contributions of hundreds of volunteers from member companies. Decision making power rests in a Board of Directors, and committees provide valuable feedback and market information to the Board.
The efforts of ELFA’s leaders pay off at the member level. Benefits to members include:
- Networking opportunities and the growth that results from sharing best practices with peers
- Incomparable advocacy at the federal and state levels.
- Regular updates about policies and market data that impact companies in the equipment financing industry.
- Access to ELFA Information Central, a help desk for members that offers statistics, market data, technical information and access to subject matter experts.
- Educational opportunities through webinars, live events and roundtable discussions.
Embracing the Power of Technology and the Internet
When Tuffwerx asked how ELFA members are moving their businesses online, we were encouraged to learn that many members are harnessing the power of the Internet in a variety of ways:
As the U.S. economy continues to improve and new technology solutions enter the marketplace, equipment finance companies are using technology in new ways to meet evolving customer needs and gain an advantage amid increased competition. For example, a growing number of firms are implementing cloud computing and mobile computing and integrating disparate systems. Companies are also expanding their mobile capabilities. Self-service mobile applications are starting to gain traction, allowing sales teams in the field to meet end-user customers and input data on-site using mobile tools such as tablets. Some firms are changing their business processes to be more efficient and turning to predictive analytics and big data to better understand their customers and markets.
ELFA as an association has embraced Internet capabilities to communicate with community members across devices. All websites are mobile-friendly, which is especially important during major events when members need to access schedules and speaker lists on the go.
For the first time this year, the Conference Resource Center will offer live streaming of the opening General Session at ELFA’s Annual Convention. All sessions will be made available virtually, with speaker handouts, audio streaming and MP3 files available to download.
ELFA offers numerous resources designed to educate members about technology, such as:
- The ELFA app with a mobile-friendly version of the magazine Equipment Leasing & Finance
- The annual Operations and Technology Conference
- The Business Technology Performance Index, which addresses the state of the equipment finance industry from a technology perspective
- An annual Software Guide
- Research on a variety of studies related to technology and efficiency
Social media has allowed ELFA to communicate in real time with an online community that didn’t exist only a few years ago.
“We continue to see an increase in the equipment finance industry’s adoption of social media. Four years ago, participation in social media was low among our industry members. Today, our LinkedIn Group has more than 10,000 members, and we have more than 1,300 Twitter followers and 11,000+ views of the industry videos on our YouTube channel. We see this trend continuing.”
Future of ELFA
ELFA communicated to Tuffwerx that the most important policy issue on the minds of ELFA leaders and members right now is the lease-accounting project:
Changes in accounting rules that would bring all or most leases on balance sheet have been under consideration by the accounting standards setters—the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) and the U.S. Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB)—since 2006. This initiative is the result of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) directive to eliminate off-balance-sheet financing and part of the overall effort to harmonize accounting standards worldwide. The rules will impact the balance sheets of every company subject to U.S. GAAP that uses leasing to acquire assets or as part of its asset management.
Two exposure drafts have been released by the IASB and FASB on this matter—one in 2010 and one in 2013. Both drafts generated widespread criticism from the business community. A new lease-accounting standard is expected to be issued in the first half of 2015, with a possible effective date of 2018.
ELFA continues strong advocacy, communications and outreach activities as the IASB and FASB drive toward the goal of adopting a new lease-accounting standard. More information is available on ELFA’s lease-accounting web page.
The association hosts events that allow members to network and educate themselves on topics relevant to the equipment financing industry. ELFA’s 2014 Annual Convention is coming up this month. For members who are unable to attend, all sessions will be available online and members can even watch a live streaming of the opening General Session. Keynote speakers for 2014 include:
- General Michael Hayden, former Director of the CIA and the National Security Agency, who will share lessons in geopolitical leadership.
- Industry economist Dr. Robert Wescott, who will bring attendees up-to-speed on the economic landscape and what it means for your business at the Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation luncheon.
- Nationally known political expert Charlie Cook who will discuss the upcoming elections.
ELFA hosts more than fifteen events every year, ranging from legal forums to roundtables. The 2015 schedule is already online.
A range of important reports will be released soon. ELFA’s 2014 State of the Equipment Finance Industry Report and the Monthly Confidence Index will both become available on October 20, 2014 during the annual conference. The Monthly Leasing and Finance Index will be accessible two days later on October 22, 2014. Members can also look forward to the 2015 Economic Outlook Report, which is tentatively scheduled for release on December 17, 2014.
Learn more at ELFAOnline.org.