According to the Commercial Finance Association Education Foundation’s Secured Lending Confidence Index (SLCI), respondents indicated the most optimism for new business demand, followed by business conditions overall, both positive indicators for the U.S. economy.

The index, initially launched in April 2018, reflects prevailing business conditions and is a broad-based leading indicator of vitality in the U.S. middle market.

The SLCI surveys leaders of commercial finance companies who provide secured loans used to finance ongoing operations, expansion and recapitalization of mid-market companies, according to Richard D. Gumbrecht, CEO of the CFA.

“The latest Confidence Index reflected that although there is a continued positive outlook on the industry, much of the confidence over the past 6 months has already transpired through increased commitments and outstandings during the same time period. The fact that both large/medium lenders and entrepreneurial lenders reported a positive outlook for demand and new loan originations, as well as an increase in hiring expectations, is encouraging,” said Miin Chen, chief financial officer, Siena Lending Group.

“These outcomes demonstrate that the Confidence Index is a reliable tool in helping our members see around corners and assist them in making appropriate business decisions,” said CFA Education Foundation executive director, Greg Slowik.

The SCLI measures five dimensions of anticipated activity over the coming three months including overall business conditions, portfolio performance, demand for new business, client utilization and hiring expectations. It is conducted quarterly.