Our yearly Conference & Awards 2021, scheduled for Vienna on 2 December 2021, has been postponed. What follows is a preview of what delegates could expect to be on the agenda, which is now expected to take place in spring 2022. Alejandro Gonzalez reports 

At our last face-to-face conference in Barcelona in November 2019, few of us could have foreseen that a pandemic might explain a two-year hiatus in meeting face-to-face as an industry.

But, while the threat of Covid has certainly not passed, lessors continue to make strides to adapt to shifting circumstances, of which living with the disease is only one aspect.

In Austria – much like the rest of Europe – government measures to contain the virus from spreading have weighed heavily on all industries and sectors of the economy, one notable exception across most of the world is IT equipment.

As I write, the Austrian government has taken the bold step of putting two million of its citizens who are not fully vaccinated against Covid-19 in lockdown as a recent surge in Covid cases threatens public health. According to reports, the seven-day infection rate in mid-November stood at more than 800 cases per 100,000 people, one of the highest in the region. Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg told reporters: “We are not taking this step lightly, but unfortunately it is necessary.”

Austrian leasing

Against this backdrop, in its review for the first half of 2021, the Association of Austrian Leasing Companies (VÖL), reported that its membership – which covers equipment finance, vehicle finance and property – recorded an increase in contracts compared to the previous year of 6.9 per cent, with a total volume of leases, at 802,706, valued at €25.8bn.
Regarding equipment leasing, this segment continued along a moderate downward trajectory that emerged in 2020, VÖL said. In the first half of 2021, new business volumes recorded losses of 3.7 per cent to €690m. The number of new contracts concluded fell by 7.5 per cent to 10,134 units. The average contract sum, on the other hand, rose by 4.1 year-on-year per cent to €68,063 per contract.
Meanwhile, Fleet management saw a 20.7 per cent increase to €410m in new business volumes over the same period. The number of contracts also increased compared to the previous year by 10.4 per cent to almost 15,000 contracts, VÖL said.
These recovery trends are not uncommon across the European leasing scene and help underscore the necessity to look beyond the headline figures to get a better understanding of the nuances at work across different asset classes.
Recovery from Covid-19 and its variants will likely take many months, if not a year or two, to return to pre-pandemic levels, and that’s assuming no other shocks to the economic system.
But significantly, any recovery in business volumes and revenue will be accompanied by a new way of doing business. Covid has accelerated many changes already afoot to dealing and managing customers, funders, third parties, regulation and technology.

Leasing Life conference

At the conference, speakers will explore these aspects in greater detail while considering other trends and developments in the European leasing industry.

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We’ve asked Jochen Jehmlich, the CEO of Societe Generale Equipment Finance to deliver this year’s keynote address.   

We’re kicking off the morning session with the following question: What does the post-Covid leasing industry look like? To unpackage this, we’ve assembled Florence Roussel Pollet, chief commercial officer of Societe Generale, Andrew Denton, CEO of Alfa, and Pascal Layan, deputy CEO of BNP Paribas Leasing Solutions who will help to get the debate started and to encourage questions from the floor.

Meanwhile, Patrick Gouin, executive director of Invigors EMEA, will lead the second session with the question: What is the new Digital Zeitgeist? To help him approach an answer from their various perspectives will be Daniela Weitmann, the head of global digital transformation for DLL, Jeff Lezinski, SVP Solution Architecture of Odessa, Gerd Straub, partner with KPMG, and Martin de Heus, EMEA director, enterprise and corporate solutions for Moxtra.

After lunch, Patrick Gouin will get the afternoon session going with the question: What lessons have we learned from the pandemic? This discussion will feature Carmen Ene, CEO of 3Step IT, Colin Fleischmann, director of global accounts and business development for Solifi (formerly IDS/White Clarke Group), Niels Spitters, CEO of Intrador, and Robert Taylor, the UK Country Manager for LTi Technology Solutions.

Our final session for the day will consider: What are the latest product innovations and disruptors in leasing? Experts from Ritchie Bros Asset Solutions, FIS Asset Finance and PEAC Finance will share what’s getting the attention of their clients on the products and technology front.

When the talking is done, delegates have been invited back to our gala celebration, the Leasing Life Awards, chaired by Alfa’s Andrew Denton. Good luck on the night to all nominees!

Leasing Life Awards 2019: winners announced