Annual Conference

NMLA's annual Marine Lending Conference has grown to become the annual meeting place for those involved in the marine finance and related service industries.  It brings a balanced agenda of industry speakers, business sessions which address the latest issues affecting the lending market, interactive discussions on current marine finance topics, and the opportunity to network with industry colleagues. Sponsors, exhibitors and advertisers (in the program directory that becomes a useful resource for finding lenders, finance products and services) are an integral part of the conference. See below for highlights from previous events.

2013 NMBA Annual Conference

Stronger Economy Should Bolster Marine Lending

Consumer lending, and particularly marine lending, needs a boost from a stronger economy to pump up boat and other discretionary product sales so real gains can be made in the U.S. and global markets. That was the tone of the annual NMBA Conference held in Lake Geneva, WI September 9 to 11, and it was the message delivered consistently by speakers sharing insights there.

Co-chairs for this year’s event were Bill Otto of Lake Effect Financial Services and Jackie Forese, NMBA Director Emeritus. A long list of volunteers helped pull it all together, ably assisted by association manager Bernice McArdle.

Opening the business sessions, NMBA President Mike Bryant of Trident Funding inferred that every market positive seemed to have a corresponding detraction. Unemployment is decreasing, but wages are stuck; consumer confidence is gaining, while GDP is below average growth; RVs, cars and trucks are selling pretty well, leading indicators for boats, though late summer arrival and world worries, like Syria, cut into the enthusiasm.

Bryant also mentioned highlights from recent actions taken by the NMBA Board. To provide a more inclusive platform and reflect participation by a wider range of financial entities, a name change to National Marine Lenders Association was approved and will be presented to the members for ratification. The website has been refreshed, now has a convenient PayPal feature, and features some new cost-saving benefits for members. An earlier decision has resulted in choosing the 2014 conference venue, the Silverado Resort and Spa in the Napa Valley, September 22 - 24. 

To access the conference proceedings, photographs, and sponsor recognitions, please click the links below.

2012 NMBA Annual Conference

Marine Lenders Report Firming Business at Annual Conference

Subtle confirmation that 2012 will be another strengthening year for boating and boat loans was evident as marine lenders gathered for the National Marine Bankers Association’s 33rd Annual Conference in Newport, RI September 9 to 11. Attendance at the event also improved to about 100 people, an increase of 10 percent over 2011.

Lending activity was reported better last fall and winter, but even though spring and summer seasons were challenged due to heat and drought in many major boating markets, bookings continued a slight ticking up. As reflected in NMBA’s quarterly surveys, the firming is being supported by somewhat more lenient lending terms and banks getting more money on the street. There is a long path to genuinely robust lending times, but the atmosphere reflected by conference participants was decidedly upbeat compared to just two or three years ago.

Co-chairs for this year’s event were Mike Bryant of Trident Funding Corp. and Jackie Forese, NMBA Director Emeritus. A long list of volunteers helped pull it all together, ably assisted by association manager Bernice McArdle.

NMBA President Karen Trostle of Sterling Acceptance Corp. opened the event with a brief overview of macroeconomic conditions and then zeroed in on data specific to the marine sector. With unemployment rates coming down but remaining above 8 percent, the drag is reflected in consumer confidence stuck at about half of what it was pre-recession. In terms of overall lending statistics, borrowing continues growth for the second year, particularly in non-revolving credit. Borrowers are also are working to pay down their credit balances resulting in reduced delinquency rates.

In marine, new powerboat and inboard sales are up slightly while brokerage sales were running ahead through July and started cooling; those who serve the brokerage market suggest demand for 80 to 100-foot craft has contracted fairly substantially.

Trostle also gave a preview look at the NMBA’s Annual Lending report noting downpayments on new and used boats are trending down a bit for the first time in several years, that turnover in loans is holding fairly steady, delinquency has trended down, and that charge-offs have dropped below all loans tracked after two years of being above them. She said that the complete report would be issued within weeks.

To access the conference proceedings, photographs, and sponsor recognitions, please click the links below.

2011 NMBA Annual Conference

Marine Lending Saw Gains for Most of 2011

Marine lenders gathering for their Annual Conference described the past year as one of growing interest in loans with a moderate increase in bookings through the early fall boat show season followed by a stall in mid to late October. This slowdown was likely precipitated by the global financial crisis and a related decline in consumer confidence. Looking ahead, lenders see slow growth in both boat loan demand and funding, static borrower standards and terms, and interest rates continuing at historically low levels.

Held in San Antonio, November 6 to 8, the event marked its 32nd anniversary and was attended by lenders and firms that provide services to the lending market. Remarketers offered that they see some decline in volume as new (or aged) boat inventory is largely worked off. Marine insurers said premium revenue had grown a bit on a steady book of clients. Marine surveyors and maritime attorneys had similar views suggesting the pre-owned market continued to be responsible for the core of their activity.

Reporting on the third quarter survey of members at the beginning of the Conference, National Marine Bankers Association President Karen Trostle of Sterling Acceptance Corp., said two-thirds of respondents indicated lending criteria (credit history, asset/net worth, debt ratio, income, collateral, and other lender requirements) has remained the same with the balance divided between saying it became more or less stringent. About half indicated dollar volume of loans booked in the 3rd quarter was the same as the previous year, 22% said volume was up and 33% reported it being down. When asked about their outlook for 4th quarter, 66% indicated they expect business to be the same or increase over the same period in 2010. Other responses indicate credit quality is largely the same or better and financing on new boat purchases remains well below 50% of loan volume booked in 3Q11. Fifty percent of respondents indicate their average loan amount is the same or higher than 2010.

To access the conference proceedings, please click on the links below.


2010 NMBA Annual Conference

New Base for Marine Lending at National Marine Bankers Annual Conference

The National Marine Bankers Association hosted its 31st Annual Conference at the Rancho Bernardo Inn Golf Resort & Spa, San Diego. With a 20 percent increase over last year to about 100 participants at the 31st National Marine Bankers Association Annual Conference in San Diego November 7-9, members were suggesting that stability is working its way back to the boat loan sector. They also acknowledged that the number of funding sources remains historically low and that firms helping lenders work out troubled loans continue prospering.

“The number of marine funding institutions, including major national banks, has settled in around a half-dozen, reflecting what’s found in the broad financial market,” notes NMBA President Karen Trostle of Sterling Acceptance Corp. “Financial service firms, which act as agents for the funders, have seen some attrition in the past year, but still serve most active boating markets across the U.S. Our conference had continued steady support from remarketers, maritime attorneys, surveyors and others who are helping resolve the inventory overhang and overbought market conditions. And, we see some hopeful signs of new boat loan and refinance activity, especially resulting from the fall boat shows.”

Trostle shared results of a recent anecdotal “how’s business” survey comparing this year’s fall boat show season with last year’s. She cautioned that the percentage swings reflect a particularly low base for 2009. NMBA plans to repeat this survey quarterly over the next year. A roughly equal mix of 50 dealers and manufacturers, and financial servicers/banks were contacted. Results include:

New Boat Sales:

Northeast: Up 25 percent
Mid-Atlantic: Up 30 percent
Southern California: No change
Northwest: Up 10 percent
Southeast: Up 10 percent

Refinances: Up 22 percent overall

Forecast for 2011: Up for 86 percent of those surveyed

Boat Buyers Paying with Cash: 90 percent for purchases 40’ and above

Used Boat Sales: Up 35 percent

Retail Sales for Boat Show Vendors: Up 30 percent

Economist Gina Martin, Senior Institutional Equity Strategist for Wells Fargo Securities, LLC, told those at the conference that the excesses of the U.S. consumer over the past 30 years are being worked out, but not as quickly as hoped. Though painful, when the issues are resolved, it should result in a prolonged and very stable period of economic growth for the country. Short term positives include expected extended tax cuts and unemployment claims for individuals and tax credits for small business. Strong headwinds will buffet the economy for the short term and Martin expects 2011 to be much like 2010: bumpy and with slow growth running 2 ½ percent for the year.

In a presentation titled “Return of American Thrift,” Martin noted that consumers and small businesses don’t feel the recession is behind them and favor saving over spending. High unemployment and the drumbeat of bad news over falling home prices and foreclosures has kept confidence in irons and GDP growth under three percent, a level which needs to be exceeded for real recovery to kick in.

For boating specifically, Martin worries that disposable income used for buying boats will be held down by, among other things, increasing food and other living costs. Light vehicle sales, which parallel boat buys, are off 29 percent in the past two years. She doesn’t see recovery in housing anytime soon and predicts prices falling another 5 to 10 percent. As for community banks supporting consumer loans or small businesses, it will likely take another two years before these sources stop failing.

Other sessions at the NMBA Conference reflected issues of concern or opportunities for the lending community. These included diagnosing marine fraud, short sale mechanics, benefits of electronic networking, the changing nature of credit scoring, impact of the Gulf oil disaster on the industry and the effect of financial reform for lenders.

During the event, the NMBA Board of Directors approved actions in response to market conditions:

  • Continue to get the message out to consumers that funds are available;
  • Conduct regional round table dialogues with dealers/ manufacturers/ lenders to encourage new sources of funding for boating;
  • Form a new Service Company Committee to address changing legislative and other needs of these firms.