As a veteran of military service in Vietnam, I’m drawn to military history and the connections that can be made between military discipline and civilian life. One story in particular came to mind as preparation for this column began.
Around 2,000 years ago, Julius Caesar and his naval armada set out to conquer England. England was a great distance from Rome and the Celts were skillful and aggressive soldiers. The Roman ships held a finite number of soldiers, yet there were hundreds and thousands of the enemy. In addition, if Caesar and his men planned to retreat, they would have to sail back across the channel, cut off from relief or additional supplies. As the Roman ships drew near the coast, the enemy could be seen lining the Cliffs of Dover, eagerly awaiting battle.
Caesar is said to have directed the ships away from the cliffs, and after a valiant effort, the Romans established a beachhead, though one entirely surrounded by Celtic soldiers. According to legend, Caesar then made an incredibly daring move. He knew his men were tired and he questioned their commitment and resolve. As long as the Roman ships remained along the coast, there would be thoughts of retreat. Caesar ordered the ships to be burned. This way, there would
Over the past three years it feels like the reverse mortgage industry has been under siege. I hesitate to use the term “enemy” to describe well-intentioned legislators who attempt to add layers of redundant legal protections at the state level that already exist at the federal level, or investigative reporters who can’t seem to ferret out a positive reverse mortgage experience to save their souls, or regulatory zealots who treat seniors like children that require constant protection.
These folks are not enemies from foreign lands to conquer or defeat; they are as interested in protecting their territory or turf as we are in defending ours. They have been around since the first reverse mortgage closed and they aren’t going anywhere soon. So how do we disarm them? How do we make peace?
In 2011, the NRMLA board and its members strongly recommended that lenders incorporate financial assessment tools into the reverse mortgage qualification process. This was a proactive and constructive response by the reverse mortgage industry to the destructive tremors experienced on the forward side, and now reverberating on the reverse side. These tools will help mitigate new Tax & Insurance defaults, a true threat and a real enemy to our industry, and should help address the fears of those regulatory zealots who have witnessed far too much predatory behavior within the forward mortgage industry.
Of equal importance, the “Borrow with Confidence” campaign is an effort to rally reverse mortgage professionals and educate consumers. The simple truth, so often overlooked by media pundits, is that reverse mortgages have provided countless seniors with essential and safe financial solutions.
It’s easier to do battle when an enemy is as clearly identified as it was for those Romans standing on the ships, or those Celts standing along the cliffs. The true jewel of the story, and the thing Caesar knew, is this: The greatest enemy can be our very own defeatist attitudes and our desire to retreat or run away when confronted with great challenges.
“Burn the ships!” We come in peace. The reverse mortgage industry is here to stay.