Hot Seat: Peter Bell

From his favorite magazine to the best job he has ever had, we get the personal and professional facts from Peter Bell, CEO of NRMLA, in our monthly edition on The Hot Seat.

My favorite website is There is so much to read about so many topics. Politics, business, international relations, the arts, cuisine–every topic you can imagine and more.

My favorite magazine is The Economist.

I never miss an episode of several HBO series. I’m not much of a TV watcher, but I do enjoy a few HBO series like Entourage, Boardwalk Empire and Treme. I also love watching Bill Maher’s show. Creating humor out of political irony is amusing to me.

I can’t go without music. I try to get out to hear live music at least one night a week.

The best job I’ve ever had is what I do today. Association management is a fascinating field. You get to do so many things. It’s the intersection of policy and business. It’s where concepts are born and ideas are germinated. You get to work with so many interesting people. Travel. See. Write. Speak. Beats sitting in the office all day, if you’re a hyperactive sort of guy, like me.

My parents taught me how to try to put myself in the shoes of the other person when discussing an issue. You’ll come up with much more persuasive arguments that way, then if you only look at things from your own perspective.

My favorite time of the day is right now, my morning read, think and write session.

Right now I’m listening to Anat Cohen, a top-of-the-trade, NYC-based female saxophone and clarinet player.

The biggest challenge in the reverse mortgage industry is to manage the integrity of all who participate and keep out the riff raff.

The biggest obstacle to growth in the reverse mortgage business is the public’s perception of it. Every time something “untoward” happens it casts aspersions upon our entire industry, not just the perpetrators. We all pay for their misbehavior.

The future of reverse mortgages is very bright, if you look at the demographics. There’s the age wave, the lack of financial preparedness for funding longevity and the fact that housing wealth is often the largest component of personal wealth means.

The greatest setback for our industry was the aggressive marketing of annuities with reverse mortgages a few years ago. It was not only outreach directly to consumers that drew the public and regulators’ wrath, but also the aggressive promotion to mortgage and insurance brokers that they could earn big fees by doing this double sell. Reverse mortgage professionals can best support the public image of reverse mortgages by becoming fully knowledgeable about the topics on their clients’ minds and getting involved in civic organizations where they can develop contacts and establish credibility.

The most important thing financial advisors can learn about reverse mortgages is how they fit into a comprehensive personal finance strategy that aims at funding longevity.

Industry growth is dependent upon the integrity of those involved in the reverse mortgage business and earning the public trust.

The development of a proprietary market for reverse mortgages will require stability in home values. I don’t see how it will happen until then.

The ideal characteristics of leaders in the industry are broad-minded, socially aware, straight-talking, politically- astute, diplomatic, consumer-centric, and respectful of others.


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