This column appears in February, but it’s being written while my wife and I are in the process of putting away the holiday decorations. (Tara is a master organizer and boxing up holiday decorations is a piece of cake!) While the decorations are coming down, I find myself mentally packing away the events of the past year. Figuratively packing away 2012 is proving to be a far more formidable task! The festivities of the new year tend to make me nostalgic. Please indulge a few moments of reflection.
I was a young adult in the ’60s and these days I find myself regularly singing the refrain from The Beatles’ “With a Little Help From My Friends.” I am reminded daily, and especially at the holidays, how very much I rely on family and friends for my personal and professional well-being. In my role as a husband and CEO, my wife, Tara, has provided invaluable love, support and guidance. As a father, my children have blessed me with their professional and personal successes, and they have expanded my role to include being “Poppy” to their beautiful offspring, my grandchildren. As a business owner, countless people have supported my vision and efforts over the years, and they are too numerous to mention here.
All of this nostalgia brings me to the present moment and the process, as CEO of Celink, of closing out 2012 and looking ahead to 2013. I came into the reverse mortgage industry at the invitation of Peter Bell to attend the NRMLA conference in April 2004. While there I was introduced to some industry founders and giants who remain friends to this day. I came away from that experience believing that this is the industry I was meant to be in and felt deeply impressed with the exceptional concern its members carried for borrowers and each other. Whenever I am a little down, I wander around our Borrower Care call center and take in the conversations of my staff helping seniors all day long. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Reverse mortgage servicing has always felt less like a professional path and more like a calling.
For the past few years our industry has felt as volatile as nitroglycerine. This past year was especially trying. It’s a big task to sort through the many lessons learned and to discard all the broken or nonworking pieces. There’s a war on all things “mortgage” and make no mistake: Our industry has been, and will continue to be, under attack. In the final weeks of 2012, NRMLA’s political advocacy team initiated dialogue with Sen. John Corker (R-TN) and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ); spoke with the producer of a story criticizing reverse mortgages on World News With Diane Sawyer; and wrote a strong industry response to a Wall Street Journal editorial questioning government support for the HECM program.
All too often some in our industry engage in “friendly fire,” defined as confusing ourselves with the enemy and shooting at each other. It’s still early in the year so let’s make this resolution: Let’s come together as an industry, under our NRMLA membership, and commit to doing the right thing, at the right time and for the right reason. I came into the reverse mortgage industry through invitation from NRMLA and today, at the beginning of yet another year of uncertainty and challenge, I credit NRMLA advocacy and membership as one of the primary reasons I will optimistically stay. We will all get by with a little help from our friends.