Written by Michael J. Weltman, as originally published in The Reverse Review.

Some of us in this business are seasoned veterans, and others are new to the product. Regardless, one thing is for certain: Every company has its own way of doing business. I believe that it is part of our job to know who does what and how well, to know our peers in the business, and to be willing to ask for help when a client’s need surpasses our personal expertise or our company’s set of offerings. Sometimes, the answer can still be yes, even when our company says no.

We all know the reverse mortgage business is an ever-changing, shape-shifting industry. We have an alphabet soup of government entities regulating us and rewriting guidelines and documents for us, always adding layers of new protections for the consumer, because the bad guys did something bad, and the alphabet soup does not want it to happen again.

I have been in reverse for 12 years now and I have experienced numerous changes in this space. But one thing always remains the same for me: the need to treat the customer like my own mom and dad. I work hard every day to help my clients through this process. With skill, diligence and great customer service, I guide them toward the right program and plan to help them support their retirement. And if your company does not offer the plan they want or need, perhaps you should think about who does. If you know it exists out there in the reverse world, offered by your friends down the street, then hand them off with grace and dignity, and continue to help that client through the process, even if you aren’t doing their loan. The most important thing is to ensure that that senior gets the expert help they need.

Five years ago, a senior manager told me that this business is a social mission, and I believe that to be true. We have a certain agenda that no one else in the mortgage industry has: Our main goal is to assist seniors looking to achieve financial security in order to support their retirement. In order to best complete this social mission and service our senior clients, it is sometimes necessary to recognize what we can and cannot do. Sometimes, this means passing a client off to a colleague at another company that might be able to better assist that particular senior. For example, not all companies are licensed to do business in every state. In other situations, your company’s underwriting policies prevent loan approval for borrowers with certain circumstances (e.g., borrowers with mobile homes, log homes, new construction homes, or those seeking reverse for Purchase loans).

As originators, we must work within the parameters that our company has instituted. But if we are working in the best interests of our client, perhaps we can connect them with a colleague who may operate under a different set of parameters that can better meet the client’s particular need. Sometimes, there are others in this business that can say yes when we must say no, and I feel that it’s our job to help those clients find that person so they can still get the help they need. Why, you ask? Well, because it’s the right thing to do.

To me, this type of situation is comparable to a referral one receives from a financial services institution that does not offer any type of reverse mortgage. Often, a bank, credit union, law firm or financial planner will refer a client to a reverse mortgage lender so that their client can get the help they need. In these situations, those folks are

coming to us because we are the experts capable of helping them obtain this type of financial tool. Similarly, when our company is unable to assist a client, we can let them know that some lenders have asset types and borrower conditions that prevent them from approving the loan, but that perhaps those restrictions aren’t upheld by all companies. But because we are the experts who care, we can direct them to a lender who may be able to help them in their unique circumstance.

And remember, they have friends and family, they have neighbors and acquaintances, and perhaps they will tell them how helpful you were. Perhaps they will tell them that instead of saying no, you selflessly directed them to someone who could say yes. You went through the trouble of helping them, even though that meant that you were not going to be doing their loan.

After all, don’t all of us expect to be treated this way? If you were shopping for something at a specialty store and they did not have what you wanted, wouldn’t you appreciate the salesperson who directed you to the right place? Wouldn’t you want the merchant to tell you, since they are the experts, where to go to find what it is you were looking for, even if it was not in their store? And wouldn’t you tell your friends and family what great service you got? You would remember that they went above and beyond the call of duty for you, and that is what excellent customer service is all about.

To be sure, we know which lenders can handle the special circumstances—non-borrowing spouse cases, mobile homes built before 1990, and all the other unique stuff we tend to come across and can’t help with. Let’s make that referral with a smile and a handshake, and help the client anyway. By doing so, we can elevate our business and the reverse industry in general to a new level of customer service. We are the experts, and even when the loan can’t be done through our employer, we can make sure the senior client gets the help they need. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about?