The History of LeasingBy Jeffrey TaylorLeasing is corporate Americas biggest external source of equipment finance. Itsbigger than bank loans, bigger than bonds, bigger than stocks, bigger thancommercial mortgages. And its the fastest growing form of business investment.This year alone, over $220 billion dollars of equipment will be leased in the UnitedStates and $550 billion throughout the world. Overall, worldwide leasing volumecontinues to grow. Unfortunately, several country volumes have droppedprecipitously, thus making it more difficult to expand their leasing markets.U.S. companies lease everything from printing presses to power plants, haybalers to helicopters, office copiers to offshore drilling rigs, telecom equipment tolarge-scale computer networks.Over 35% of all capital equipment is financed through some form of leasing. Eightout of ten companies - from mom and pop proprietorships to the Fortune 500 -have turned to leasing to get ahead and stay ahead.How did we get here? How did leasing become the most popular financingalternative in the world? Lets explore its rich history.In 1984, while the leasing industry was reeling from the third major tax change infour years, archaeologists found clay tablets from the ancient Samarian city of Ur.They discovered that these tablets documented farm equipment leases from theyear 2010 BC.Fifty years later, the king of Babylonia in his famous Code of Hammurabi enactedthe first leasing laws. The ancient civilizations of Egypt, Greece and Romeengaged in leasing transactions of real and personal property, while thePhoenicians actively promoted leasing by chartering ships to local merchants.Leasing first appeared in the United States in the 1700s to finance the use ofhorse-drawn wagons. By the mid-1800s, railroad tycoons, battling to extend theirprivate railroads across the country, required tremendous amounts of newcapital. Most banks, however, considered railroad financing risky and refused tolend to the emerging transportation industry. Locomotives, cars and otherrailroad equipment had to be financed using new and creative methods - theforerunners of the equipment lease.This new scheme involved third-party investors who would pool their funds,purchase railroad cars from a manufacturer, then lease the cars to the railroad inthe form of "equipment trust certificates". The railroad would receive title to theequipment after making periodic payments to cover the purchase price plusinterest. This method of
financing resembles the modern-day conditional sale.In the early 1900s, companies began to act as lessors for this equipment byleasing it out while maintaining title to it. Often, the lessees would be shipperswho wanted control over their shipments without the responsibilities ofownership. This method introduced the operating or true lease concept.Meanwhile, other manufacturers were looking for additional ways to sell theirmerchandise. They created the installment sale, which allowed consumers andcommercial markets to increase their purchasing power by paying for equipmentover time.By the mid-1920s, manufacturers were basing too many major investmentdecisions on credit sales. Their failure to recognize this danger helped bringabout the Great Depression in the 1930s. As many businesses suffered, theybecame wary of "creative" financing and leasing was placed on hold.Leasing returned to popularity during World War II. Manufacturers entered intocost-plus contracts with the government. These contracts allowed themanufacturer to recover actual costs plus a guaranteed profit. In order tominimize costs, many of these companies leased special-purpose machineryfrom the government. Companies discovered that they could return theequipment to the government at the end of the lease, thus protecting themselvesagainst owning technically obsolete equipment when the war ended.In the 1950s, consumers started to demand a vast array of goods. They wantedspeed, convenience and mobility. Manufacturers utilized leasing to help overhaulold operations quickly and create new facilities for the production of newproducts like televisions, advanced communications equipment and airplanes.This rapid growth provided an ideal backdrop for the creation of a formalequipment leasing industry.The leasing industry has experienced phenomenal growth over the years. In spite of astrong US dollar, volatile exchange rates and unpredictable interest rates, the leasingindustry continues to survive and expand. Today, all over the world, you can see banks,insurance companies, captive finance companies, third-party vendors, brokers, andindependent leasing companies all competing to serve lessees.What were the major factors that helped make leasing the popular financial alternativethat it is today?The volatility of the general economy was one factor. Leasing, once considered to beaggressive financing used only by those unable to get conventional terms, is nowregarded as a stable alternative to wildly-fluctuating interest and inflation rates. Forexample:
In December 1980, the prime lending rate reached 21.5% and low-risk instruments like U.S. Treasury bonds stood at 17%. Double-digit inflation became common in the 1970s, causing many assets to be priced out of reach without financing. Annual federal budget deficits climbed continuously, from $25 billion in 1968 to a staggering amount of $230 billion in 1990, causing the national debt to reach a mind-boggling $2.7 trillion.This financial roller coaster caused many traditional funding sources to tighten theircredit requirements, opening the door to new methods. At the same time favourable taxlaws and other regulations were bolstering leasing. Lets return to the 1950s to see whysome of these favourable changes were brought about.In 1953, with the nation in a post-war slump, Congress wanted to promote capitalformation and manufacturing. In response, the IRS issued the Internal Revenue Code of1954. Section 167 of that code gave the owner/lessor of equipment the ability to (1)deduct ordinary expenses associated with a lease and (2) accelerate depreciation byusing either the 200% declining balance or the sum-of-the-years digits method.By increasing tax deductions in the early life of the asset and deferring taxable incometo the later years, the Code was intended to enhance the benefits of ownership andencourage capital spending. However, many companies like railroads and airlines thatneeded the use of large and costly equipment couldnt afford to purchase it outright andcouldnt take advantage of these new tax benefits.For the first time, a real distinction could be made between the benefits of ownershipand the benefits of use.U.S. Leasing Corporation was the first general equipment leasing company formed totake advantage of these tax benefits of ownership while passing the right to use theequipment and the expense of maintenance to another party. In these transactions, titleusually passed to lessees upon their exercise of a nominal purchase option.By 1955 the use of leasing had spread, and several more leasing companies enteredthe market. While they were bringing new products into the leasing arena at a rapidrate, a major tax issue was surfacing. The tax code, which had been issued by the IRSthe previous year, had not distinguished clearly between a true lease and a conditionalsale agreement. Since leasing companies didnt want to lose any of these newfound taxbenefits, they were reluctant to pursue situations, which would be questioned by theIRS.With the intention of defining a true lease for tax purposes, the IRS issued Revenue
Ruling 55-540 in 1955. This ruling classified a transaction as a true lease only if none ofthe following conditions were true: 1. Any portion of the lease payments was applied to an equity position in the asset 2. Ownership automatically passed to the lessee at the end of the term 3. The amount paid under a short-term lease was a significant portion of the purchase price 4. Rental payments were substantially higher than fair market 5. The transaction contained a nominal purchase option 6. Any portion of the lease payment was characterized as interest.If any one of these conditions were true, the transaction was considered a conditionalsale, and only the lessee received the tax benefits.During the remainder of the 1950s, the economy remained somewhat flat. A mildrecession in 1960-61 once again spurred Congress to action, resulting in dramaticchanges in the leasing industry.In another effort to pump up capital expenditures, Congress introduced in 1962 a newtax benefit, which would provide the leasing industry with its biggest boost. TheInvestment Tax Credit (ITC) provided purchasers of capital equipment with a tax creditthey could use to offset their total tax liability to the government. The purchaser coulddetermine the amount of this credit by taking 7% of the original equipment cost.Lessors who could establish true leases were also entitled to the ITC. Therefore, asmart lessor would keep the ITC, reduce the monthly rental payments from the lessee,and still show higher after-tax yields.Another significant event occurred in 1963, when the Comptroller of the Currencyissued a ruling permitting banks to get into the leasing business. Before this, nationalbanks were not allowed to own or lease personal property since their business wasrestricted to lending money. Previous involvement in leasing had been limited mainly tothe trustee function involving equipment trust certificates. As soon as banks began totake an active role in equipment leasing, the use of equipment trust certificates began tofade.The escalating war in Vietnam during the late 1960s affected both the social andeconomic fiber of American life. The Treasury steadily increased its borrowings tofinance defense spending and social programs, pushing interest rates on both federaland corporate debt instruments up to the 7% and 8% levels. By 1968 the federal deficithad reached $25 billion.
Congress began using ITC to prod the economy in whichever direction seemedappropriate, with the following results: 1962 - ITC introduced 1966 – repealed 1967 - re-enacted 1969 – repealed 1971 - re-enacted 1986 – repealedThis flip-flop of tax benefits along with rising interest rates gave the leasing industry itsfirst taste of its love/hate relationship with the government.1970 ushered in a turbulent decade for the economy. The continued emphasis ondefense spending and the push for technological advancement left the government withan increasing budget deficit, declining GNP and growing unemployment.In August of 1971, President Nixon imposed the first peacetime wage and pricecontrols. This resulted in companies jacking up their prices and then discounting themfor selected customers in order to stay within the confines of the law. By 1973 theWatergate scandal and the Arab oil embargo had caused the U.S. dollar to be devaluedtwice.The prime rate steadily increased during this decade, from 6% to 15.75%. Inflation roseto 12%, discouraging savings and reducing capital available for investment. Corporateprofits were sharply reduced, and the economy slid deeper into recession. Researchand development, investment in new equipment and the planned replacement of agingassets were usually the first budget items to be cut.Congress responded by reinstating ITC in 1971, then increasing the ITC rate from 7% to10% in 1975. In 1972, Congress introduced Asset Depreciation Ranges (ADR). This lawcreated hundreds of asset categories and prescribed useful lives for depreciatingassets. Before this, lessors had to guess the useful life of the asset, and if a lessorchose a shorter life than the IRS thought reasonable, he would lose depreciationbenefits and increase his tax liability. But ADR provided the lessor with a method forselecting a useful life that could not be challenged by the IRS.Banks were given a stronger foothold in the leasing industry when Congress amendedthe Bank Holding Company Act in 1970. This amendment allowed banks to form holdingcompanies and bank subsidiaries. As subsidiaries, bank leasing companies were nolonger subject to the stringent reserve requirements of their parent banks, providingthem with more financial leverage and a greater profits.Companies like IBM and Xerox began to use leasing more widely to finance thedistribution of their products. They maintained equipment title, offered shorter terms,
and remarketed the equipment after the lease. These benefits attracted manycustomers who wanted to avoid the risk of computer and copier technical obsolescence.Vendor leasing quickly spread to other types of equipment, including office machineryand furniture, cash registers, and restaurant equipment.The marketplace also created new types of products. One example is the leveragedlease, a highly sophisticated product that combines three parties -- lessor, lessee andlender. In this type of transaction, the lessor finances the equipment by putting in 20%equity and borrowing 80% from a lender on a non-recourse basis. The lessor thenkeeps all of the tax benefits as well as deducting the loan interest. The leveraged taxbenefits allow the lessor to offer the lessee extremely low rentals while maintaining ahigh yield.Since the complex structuring of leveraged leases was not foreseen in 1955, manylessors required private tax rulings from the IRS. In 1975, the IRS responded by issuingRevenue Procedure 75-21. This procedure amplified its 1955 ruling and specified inmore detail what criteria would be used to govern leasing transactions for tax purposes.Under Revenue Procedure 75-21 five conditions had to be met to assure a favourableruling: 1. The lessor must maintain a minimal "at risk" investment of 20% during the term of the lease 2. The term of the lease must include all renewal or extension periods, except for optional renewal periods, at prevailing fair market value 3. Lessee may not purchase the asset at less than fair market value 4. The lessee may not furnish any part of the cost of the asset 5. The lessor must expect a profit from the transaction apart from the tax benefits of ownership.While the IRS was dealing with the tax aspects of lessors, the Securities and ExchangeCommission (SEC) was concerned with inconsistent lessor balance sheets and incomestatements. They wanted to standardize the financial statement reporting methods ofboth lessors and lessees in order to help investors make better-informed investmentdecisions. In 1976, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), under pressurebythe SEC, issued a comprehensive lease accounting document entitled FinancialAccounting Statement No. 13 (FAS 13).This statement classifies a lease as either a capital lease or an operating lease from thelessees viewpoint. If the lease is determined to be a capital lease, the lessee mustaccount for it as an outright purchase and show the asset on their financial statements.
An operating lease, on the other hand, is not reflected on the balance sheet and futurerentals are disclosed only in the footnotes.Lessors are subjected to similar tests designed to create accounting symmetry, butthese criteria leave some loopholes that can enable both parties to leave the asset offthe balance sheet.In the 80’s, the leasing industry witnessed five major tax laws in a very short period oftime: Economic Recovery and Tax Act of 1981 (ERTA) Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982 (TEFRA) Deficit Reduction Act of 1984 (DRA) Tax Reform Act of 1986 (TRA) Competitive Bank Equality Act of 1987In August of 1981, Congress passed ERTA, an extensive revision of the1954 InternalRevenue Code. Led by a Republican majority in the Senate, Congress believed that theprivate sector would spend and invest more money and stimulate the economy if its taxburdens could be sharply reduced.Two features of this law had major impacts on leasing (1) ACRS - Accelerated CostRecovery System and (2) Safe Harbor Leasing.ACRS replaced the complex ADR depreciation system with a simpler and faster costrecovery system. This new system contained only five classes of assets ranging from 3-year to 15-year life spans and specified the percentage of cost to be written off in eachyear. This enabled an owner/lessor to fully depreciate an asset without having toestimateuseful life and salvage value.Safe harbor leasing had a major impact on the entire business community. Tax benefitswere made available to lessors other than those complying with "true lease" guidelines.Only three tests had to be met to qualify for the tax benefits of ownership: Lessor is a corporation (excluding subchapter S and personal holding companies) Lessor’s minimum investment in the leased asset is never less than 10% (reduced from 20%) The term of the lease does not exceed 90% of the useful life of the asset or 150% of the present class life of the asset.If all of these requirements were satisfied, the transaction would qualify as a lease fortax purposes regardless of other factors previously disallowed, like bargain purchaseoptions and limited-use property.
Another new feature of safe harbor leasing was the tax benefit transfer (TBT) lease.This enabled lessors to structure a lease with direct matching of incoming rentals anddebt payments to make a single payment to the lessee for the tax benefits. This aspectof the law led quickly to major sales of tax shelters to "nominal lessors" who were notnormally in the leasing business. Several major companies, General Electric, forexample, did not pay taxes that year due to their tremendous participation in the TBTmarketplace.As soon as it was enacted in 1981, ERTA became a scapegoat for the continually risingfederal budget deficit. The volume of leases written jumped from $32.8 billion in 1979 to$57.6 billion in 1982, creating an unforeseen loss of tax revenues.Congress passed TEFRA in August of 1982 to increase tax revenues lost under ERTA.This new act repealed safe harbor leasing and replaced it with the "finance lease",along with a complicated phase-in schedule. It also introduced the "90-day window",allowing leases to be written on new equipment already in service.The finance lease liberalized the "true lease" guidelines of Revenue Procedure 75-21 inone major respect - fixed price purchase options of at least 10% would qualify for leaseconsideration. It also contained some unfavorable requirements - spreading the ITCbenefits over 5 years and limiting the amount of tax liability that could be offset by ITC.Although interest and inflation rates had returned to acceptable ranges by 1984, thebudget deficit was growing enormously and became a political hot potato. In June of1984, Congress passed the Deficit Reduction Act, the third major tax law in four years,to reduce the size of the budget deficit by raising tax revenues.This new act postponed the introduction of finance leases from January 1984 untilJanuary 1988, as Congress recognized the impact on the Treasury of the rapidlygrowing leasing industry.The Deficit Reduction Act of 1984 affected the leasing industry in several other ways: Time value of money was introduced by requiring lessors to adjust uneven rental streams for tax purposes Depreciation benefits on real property were reduced True-tax treatment was disallowed for leases to foreign corporations not subject to U.S. income tax TRAC leases, primarily affecting the vehicle leasing industry, were recognized as true-tax leases
In December 1984, President Reagan submitted a proposal to Congress for taxsimplification. Some of the aspects of this proposal, especially the elimination ofinvestment tax credit, caused some concern within the leasing industry. That concernfinally came to past with the signing of the Tax Reform Act in October of 1986.This tax change was so complicated that it required 2000 pages to document it. Majorchanges affecting leasing included: Repeal the Investment Tax Credit Lengthening equipment useful lives Introducing an alternative minimum tax Reducing depreciable amounts in the earlier years.In 1987, Congress decided to help the banking community compete more effectivelyagainst the independent leasing companies in the operating lease market by passingthe Competitive Bank Equality Act of 1987. In this legislation, Congress allowed majorfinancial institutions to put up to 10% of their assets into operating leases. Prior to thisnew law, banks could not provide this type of lease due to the perceived risks and costsof direct ownership.Nonetheless, few banks took advantage of this opportunity and left the equipmentleasing industry altogether. In fact, independent leasing firms began to move into otheraspects of structured asset finance to take advantage of the Banks reluctance to avoidhigh-risk projects.FASB 91 required leasing companies to reduce the amount of initial direct costs eligibleto be booked at lease inception, FASB 94 required leasing companies to consolidatetheir leasing subsidiaries activities with the parent company, FASB 95 required leasingcompanies to produce cash flow statements instead of source and use of fundsstatements and FAS 96 totally overhauled the area of income tax/deferred taxcomputations and presentation.From 1988 to 1995 the equipment industry went through some extremely difficult times.Industry leading newspapers ran monthly headlines such as, "Survival in the 90s", and"The Lessor Under Chapter 11". Article 2A of the Uniform Commercial Code, whichcodified leasing transactions, was initially adopted in 17 states. And the EquipmentLeasing Association (ELA) was losing members left and right.Finally, in the mid 90’s, Wall Street and the business community discovered the Internetand the IPO market. It was almost impossible not to make money. Companies wereexpanding quickly and Silicon Valley in California, and the high-tech communities in
Texas and Massachusetts, supplied talent to automate every process possible. Theword E-lease was invented and volume went through the roof. Under President Clintonthe economy grew more than 4-5% per year. Companies such as Sun, HP, IBM, Ciscowere household names and started their own captive finance companies.Unfortunately, the party could not last forever. And in 2001, the US recognized its firstmajor recession in decades. Alan Greenspan lowered the federal borrowing rate 9 timesto an all-time low of 2.5%. As of this writing, President Bush is still considering alteringthe alternative minimum tax and lowering corporate tax rates to spur the economy. TheELA would prefer changing the accelerated depreciation rules.As a result of the World Trade Center bombings, it may take years to rebuild the USinfrastructure. Whatever happens, I can assure you, the leasing industry will be thereand at the front of the line – a privilege that rarely comes along in life.Jeffrey Taylor frequently writes on leasing subjects and has been published in the MolloyMonitor, Asian Leasing Journal, Journal of Equipment Lease Financing, Practical CashManagement, Asset Leasing Digest, Handbook of Equipment Leasing, E-trucker Magazine andBusiness Asset Magazine.Top of Pagefbibusiness.com/history_of_leasing.htmIntroduction to LeasingWith the average cost of a new car rising each year, it is becoming more important tounderstand the options available for financing. Leasing has become a much morewidespread option available to consumers through a number of different sourcesincluding automobile manufactures, local dealerships, financial institutions, andindependent leasing companies.Because of the variety of different leasing plans available, the amount of regulation ofthe leasing industry, and what can sometimes be a high stress situation of negotiating aprice for a car, consumers need to be well informed so they can make a decision thatbest fits their individual situation.Leasing is not for everyone, and it is important for you to consider things like how longyou like to keep your car, how many miles you drive your car each year, how muchmoney you want to make available for an initial payment, and how you value ownershipor equity of your car.
The basic principle of leasing is that you pay only for what you use of the car. The mostfrequently cited advantages of leasing are that leasing requires a lower initial cashoutlay, the monthly payments can be lower than a loan, and you can usually get morecar for your money. Common disadvantages are that at the end of the lease you dontown the car, and you may get charged for excess miles driven and excess wear andtear on the vehicle.The basic principles of buying your car, either with cash outright or with a loan, is thatyou have or are building equity toward ownership. The main advantage is that you ownthe car after all the payments are made. The main disadvantage is that by the time youactually own the car, it may have cost you more that the car is worth.Our goal is that after having read this guide you will have a better understanding of theconsiderations you should make when choosing to lease or buy, as well as a basicunderstanding of the most common terms and conditions of a lease and your rights andresponsibilities as a potential lease customer.Some Facts About LeasingLeasing has exploded in recent years, with individual consumers accounting for the bulkof the increase.It has grown more than tenfold in less than a decade and now accounts for more than27% of the 15 million-plus vehicles sold in the United States. Why the dramatic upsurgein leasing?A decline in the percentage of disposable savings of Americans and changes to the taxlaws are the main causes. In 1987, more than 70% of disposable savings was availablefor the purchase of consumer goods. By 1993 that figure had declined to less than 40%.And this year, the percentage continues its downward slide. Additionally, the many taxdeductions that favored purchasing over leasing were eliminated. Since those tax lawswere changed, leasing has enjoyed a steady 2% to 3% increase per year for about thelast ten years.www.leaserite.com/introduction.htmlStudy Notes: Business Finance & AccountingIntroduction to hire purchase and leasingIntroductionThe acquisition of assets - particularly expensive capital equipment - is a major commitment formany businesses. How that acquisition is funded requires careful planning.
Rather than pay for the asset outright using cash, it can often make sense for businesses to lookfor ways of spreading the cost of acquiring an asset, to coincide with the timing of the revenuegenerated by the business.The most common sources of medium term finance for investment incapital assets are Hire Purchase and Leasing.Leasing and hire purchase are financial facilities which allow a business to use an asset over afixed period, in return for regular payments. The business customer chooses the equipment itrequires and the finance company buys it on behalf of the business.Many kinds of business asset are suitable for financing using hire purchase or leasing, including:- Plant and machinery- Business cars- Commercial vehicles- Agricultural equipment- Hotel equipment- Medical and dental equipment- Computers, including software packages-Office equipmentHire purchaseWith a hire purchase agreement, after all the payments have been made, the business customerbecomes the owner of the equipment. This ownership transfer either automatically or on paymentof an option to purchase fee.For tax purposes, from the beginning of the agreement the business customer is treated as theowner of the equipment and so can claim capital allowances. Capital allowances can be asignificant tax incentive for businesses to invest in new plant and machinery or to upgradeinformation systems.Under a hire purchase agreement, the business customer is normally responsible for maintenanceof the equipment.LeasingThe fundamental characteristic of a lease is that ownership never passes to the businesscustomer.Instead, the leasing company claims the capital allowances and passes some of the benefit on tothe business customer, by way of reduced rental charges.The business customer can generally deduct the full cost of lease rentals from taxable income, asa trading expense.
As with hire purchase, the business customer will normally be responsible for maintenance of theequipment.There are a variety of types of leasing arrangement:Finance LeasingThe finance lease or full payout lease is closest to the hire purchase alternative. The leasingcompany recovers the full cost of the equipment, plus charges, over the period of the lease.Although the business customer does not own the equipment, they have most of the risks andrewards associated with ownership. They are responsible for maintaining and insuring the assetand must show the leased asset on their balance sheet as a capital item.When the lease period ends, the leasing company will usually agree to a secondary lease periodat significantly reduced payments. Alternatively, if the business wishes to stop using theequipment, it may be sold second-hand to an unrelated third party. The business arranges the saleon behalf of the leasing company and obtains the bulk of the sale proceeds.Operating LeasingIf a business needs a piece of equipment for a shorter time, then operating leasing may be theanswer. The leasing company will lease the equipment, expecting to sell it secondhand at the endof the lease, or to lease it again to someone else. It will, therefore, not need to recover the fullcost of the equipment through the lease rentals.This type of leasing is common for equipment where there is a well-established secondhandmarket (e.g. cars and construction equipment). The lease period will usually be for two to threeyears, although it may be much longer, but is always less than the working life of the machine.Assets financed under operating leases are not shown as assets on the balance sheet. Instead, theentire operating lease cost is treated as a cost in the profit and loss account.Contract HireContract hire is a form of operating lease and it is often used for vehicles.The leasing company undertakes some responsibility for the management and maintenance of thevehicles. Services can include regular maintenance and repair costs, replacement of tyres andbatteries, providing replacement vehicles, roadside assistance and recovery services and paymentof the vehicle licences.http://tutor2u.net/business/finance/finance_sources_assets_leasingintro.asp
Leasings EvolutionA Guide to Strategic Decision MakingBy Sudhir P. AmembalJanuary 11th, 2011Leasing is one of the most vibrant and dynamic industries in the world. It facilitates the financingof equipment and real property. It fosters economic growth, creates employment, and enhancestax revenues. It affects every sphere of our lives as it encompasses automobiles, furniture,airplanes, restaurant equipment, computers, telecom equipment, medical equipment, and more.THE SIGNIFICANCE OF LEASINGAs vibrant as the leasing industry is, unfortunately, no one in the world accurately tracks theentire global leasing industry with reference to items such as annual volume, portfoliobreakdown, types of asset leased, sectors leased to, performance measures and the like. However,unofficial statistics place annual volume in excess of US$ 1 trillion! Leasing, on a global basis,accounts for more than 20% of all capital formation; in other words, approximately 20% of allcapital investment in personal property (as contrasted with real property) is made throughleasing. This is solid evidence that leasing helps fuel economic development. The industry’sspectacular growth has been made possible not just because of the varied benefits offered bylease financing but because it has been managed and shepherded successfully by creative leaderswho have continually introduced new products, expanded beyond their geographical boundaries,and displayed resilience to changing regulatory, legal and tax climates.STRATEGIC DECISION MAKINGIndividuals at the helm are continually faced with having to make strategic decisions such aschoosing to specialize (as versus operating as generalists), choosing to introduce operating leases(as versus staying with finance leases), and choosing to forge foreign joint ventures (as versusstaying on shore). Decisions, such as these and many others, are made based on many factorsincluding how developed the industry is in the relevant country, how competitive it is, howsaturated the market is and how sophisticated the customers are. One of the factors mentionedabove that impacts many a strategic decision is how developed the industry is in the countrywhere the lessor is domiciled or where the global lessor plans to expand. This article is intendedto offer insight into how leasing develops throughout the world and, through such insight, it ishoped that some aspects of decision making will be facilitated. For those who are not faced withhaving to make strategic decisions, this article will provide insight into how leasing evolves ineach and every country in the world. Having had the privilege of visiting over 70 leasing
economies over the past two decades, the author began to observe a commonality in the world ofleasing having to do with leasing’s evolution and development.THE EVOLUTION OF LEASINGLeasing’s evolution in some ways is no different than that ofany other industry in the world in that leasing progresses frombeing newly born to becoming fully developed. The diagramthat follows details the four obvious stages.Leasing is, of course, nonexistent in some of the extremelyunder-developed and/or politically ravaged economies such asIraq and Myanmar. It has recently come into existence(nascent) in countries such as Rwanda. In most countries in theworld it is evolving (emerging). These include countries in theAsian Pacific region, Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe and Africa. Maturity suggests acondition of full development. Leasing has matured in countries such as Australia, the U.K. andthe United States. How the industry moves from being newly born to maturity and what causessuch movement is best understood by reviewing the six phases of the leasing cycle. Diagram 2details the six phases.THE SIX PHASES OF THE LEASING CYCLERentals (Phase One) have preceded the leasing product bycenturies and, even today, this industry is extremelycompetitive and vibrant in every country in the world. Rentalsare characterized by their short-term (less than 12 months),full-service nature. Full-service means that the typicalresponsibilities of ownership – such as maintenance, repairsand insurance – are provided by the one who rents out theequipment and not the user. At the end of the rental contractperiod, the user returns the equipment to the owner.Modern day leasing began in the mid 1950’s — both in theUnited Kingdom and the United States – in the form of the―Simple‖ Finance Lease (Phase Two). The words ―Simple‖ and―Creative‖ are words used by the author to distinguish betweenthe two types of finance leases in the context of the evolutionof leasing. In the marketplace, both these types of leases arefinance leases. In every single country in the world, the ―Simple‖ finance lease is the first leaseproduct that is introduced at the industry’s birth. The product is invariably characterized by thelessee’s intent to eventually own the equipment. The lease is merely a financing instrument. Atthe end of the lease term, the lessee, having fully paid the lessor through the lease rentals,purchases the equipment for a nominal amount of consideration. As leasing is a new product, thepsychology of ownership is still very much inherent in the user’s thought process. The lessor,
too, intends to merely finance the equipment through a lease and is not desirous of having theasset returned at the end of the term.Credit risk, not asset risk, is acceptable to the lessor, as the latter requires developed secondarymarkets, which do not necessarily exist during this phase. The lease product is almost invariablyoffered on a net basis (opposite of full- service) in which the lessor’s services are limited tofinancing the equipment. During this phase the market is usually rate driven and not value addeddriven. Needless to say, spreads are generous, though decreasing of late. From a strategic pointof view, for those seeking to cross borders, this is generally a good time to expand into emergingmarkets — well before competition becomes too intense! For those who are on the ground in thecountry in question, this is a good time to consider becoming value added and thereby notnecessarily becoming victims to margin compression.Both with the passage of time and the entry of other players in the market, the leasing industryenters Phase Three — the ―Creative‖ Finance Lease Phase. During this phase, lessors begin tostructure many of their finance leases and also provide the lessee with varied end of term optionssuch as the option to renew or purchase at a fixed price.It is during this phase, in most countries, that leasing experiences the largest growth, in terms ofboth absolute volume and market penetration. Also, many dealers/manufacturers that hereto haverelied on independent leasing companies begin to form their own leasing companies. Taxauthorities and regulators, realizing the significance of leasing, take a closer look at the industryand arrive at rules, regulations, and guidelines, meant to stimulate further growth.This phase, too, is generally rate-focused though some lessors, based on severe competition,begin to address the value-added aspects of leasing. These aspects may include shortening theresponse time from the date of lease application to the date of lease funding or bundling ofservices, such as maintenance, into the finance lease. As the market experiences substantialgrowth, rate-focused leasing at times leads to volume competition. Lessors begin to narrow theirspreads in a buyer’s market. Continued narrowing of spreads causes many lessors to exit theindustry. The industry learns from experience that it cannot remain rate driven.From a strategic point of view, this is also a good time to enter emerging markets. Thoughmargins will have shrunk, leasing infrastructure will be more solid — items having to do withclarity on legal and tax issues. For the strictly domestic players this is the time to decide whetherto focus on niche markets — be it by region, by asset type, by sector, by credit quality, or bytransaction size.Phase Four, the Operating Lease Phase, comes about with the passage of time, intensecompetition, transfer of technology from one leasing country to another, demand bymultinational lessees, and developing or developed secondary markets. In some countries, theproduct is fueled by the fact that finance leases are denied ―true lease‖ or ―tax lease‖ status. Theintroduction of international accounting standards further fuels the demand for operating leasesas finance leases no longer qualify for off balance sheet financing. Of course, forthcomingchanges in international accounting standards are likely to jeopardise off balance sheet financingin totality. However, this does not mean that operating leases, as a product, will disappear; they
will continue to offer major benefits having to do with items such as their full service features, ahedge against the deterioration of asset market values, and any possible tax benefits that financeleases may not offer.The key features of this product are the ability of the lessee to return the equipment at the end ofthe lease term, and the full-service nature of many operating leases. Bundling of services andone-stop-shopping become a convenience to the lessee. With these features, (using computers asan example) hardware, software, installation, maintenance, and training are packaged into onetransaction. All mature lease economies offer the operating lease product; emerging marketshave begun to introduce it only recently.From a strategic point of view, this is a good time to expand overseas by offering skill base andexperience through joint ventures with those lessors who seek to offer new products. For thoseon the ground, this is the time to decide whether to stay with finance leases only (nothing wrongwith this as the overwhelming majority of lessors globally successfully stay in this phase) on avalue added basis or to consider new products.On-going intense competition, continued lessor creativity, and ever-increasing transfer oftechnology propels the industry to Phase Five, the New Products Phase. In this phase, theoperating lease becomes extremely sophisticated, with complex end-of-term options (such asputs, calls, and first amendment clauses), early termination options, upgrades and rollovers,technology refreshes, and the like.Phase Five also brings about new products such as securitization, income funds, venture leases,and synthetic leases (off-balance sheet loans).From a strategic point of view, now is the time to consider domestic joint ventures and ormergers and acquisitions as the next phase - maturity, will bring about flatness in marketpenetration.Finally, the industry, following the classic industry curve from infancy to maturity, enters the lastphase, Phase Six, Maturity. Maturity is characterized by substantial consolidation within theindustry. Such consolidation takes the form of mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures and alliances.Maturity also brings forth lower margins, causing lessors to look for profits through operationalefficiencies as versus increased sales volume. Penetration flattens during this phase, as leasingvolume increases only with the overall growth of the economyThough the six phases apply universally, it is important to note two points. First, the sequenceapplies to the industry in general within each country, and not to all of the players. It is verycommon for lessors not to grow sequentially. As an example, some that offer new products suchas venture leases may not be in the operating lease business. Second, each phase is not mutuallyexclusive. Using the United States as an example, though the industry has reached maturity,many lessors continue to offer only finance leases, some only specialize in operating leases,whereas others diversify into products such as synthetic leases.
As emerging markets evolve toward maturity, it is critical to note that the leasing cycle (from the―simple‖ finance lease to maturity) has become shorter and shorter. This is obviously due toinformation sharing and technology transfer among markets.CONCLUSIONMany factors impact the timing of strategic decisions — one of them has to do with the evolutionof leasing. It is hoped that this article will provide sufficient insight into the relationship betweencertain strategic decisions and leasing’s evolution.Sudhir P. Amembal Sudhir P. Amembal is Chairman & CEO of Amembal & Associates, the world’s most highly respected lease training, consulting and publishing firm. Entities under Mr. Amembal’s stewardship have trained over 60,000 leasing professionals throughout the world. As an educator, Mr. Amembal has conducted leasing seminars in over 70 countries. As a government advisor, he hasspearheaded consultancy projects for over 20 national governments. As an author, he hasauthored, coauthored and published 16 leasing industry publications. Mr. Amembal is co-founderand publisher of World Leasing News (www.worldleasingnews.com) and Global LeasingResource (www.globalleasingresource.com) Mr. Amembal has chaired the annual WorldLeasing Convention since 1993. He can be contacted at: email@example.com://www.globalleasingresource.com/articles/leasings_evolution