Anyone who knows anything about the reverse mortgage industry is well aware of the storm of changes upon us. From the suspension of the Standard fixed-rate HECM and significantly lower commissions to additional changes potentially down the road, we have all been scared, overwhelmed and generally left frustrated by a heavy-handed government that has elected to enter the operating room with a chain saw and garden shears to fix the FHA’s minor stomachache.
After scouring through numerous articles, studies and personal reflections regarding these latest changes, I confidently arrived at one conclusion: I’m tired.
I’m tired of one article implying that only a fool
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would enter this industry in this climate, another article seemingly writing off these changes as “just a bump in the road,” and yet another making a sound mathematical argument against all these changes that, unfortunately, is seemingly ignored by government officials. Yes, these articles are important, for the most part quite factual, and are admittedly essential to grasp the environment we are working within. But it’s the summer, we have our health, our families and we still have some freedoms left, so I’ll let those more intellectual than myself digest these mammoth changes while I try to take a step back from the chaos of the markets, the stress of our businesses and the daily grind to focus on a more lighthearted subject.
Business owners must always focus on their bottom line, with profit being a gauge for success. While any successful businessperson does not sacrifice customer service, employee satisfaction and integrity for profit, the money a company makes dictates its future. That being said, a 2 a.m. discussion prompted by a craving for fruit on my part and my son’s obsession with ice cream found me talking shop with my son in our dimly lit kitchen a few weeks ago.
First of all, have a son. Actually, have two. One to tell you you’re Einstein and the other to remind you how dumb you actually are. (It truly is a fantastic business strategy of checks and balances.) But in all seriousness, there are few things in life more rewarding than an argument-free brainstorming session with your two boys. Just don’t forget to have a girl to soften things up a bit.
During our impromptu meeting in the kitchen, I bounced some ideas off my son about how we would remain profitable during the current reverse mortgage environment. After a healthy discussion (minus the heaping bowl of ice cream), my son reminded me of something I think most businesspeople may be subconsciously aware of but don’t take enough time to focus on. “Dad, you’ve owned a business almost 20 years, you’ve put me through college and have always provided for our family. And think of all your employees! So many families have been changed because of this business. Our employees’ children are attending good schools, live in comfortable houses and are provided for in some way because of the daily operations of our business. Bottom line: In the overall grand scheme of things, that to me is lasting profit no matter what these changes do to our business.”
One can only imagine what the philosophers of old would have come up with if only given a bowl of ice cream.
It’s true though. While our San Diego corporation is but a fraction of some of the larger reverse mortgage players, it’s important to take a step back and realize what your business means to your employees and their families. Many of you are at the helm of very large firms who have hundreds of employees with hundreds of husbands, wives, sons and daughters who are directly affected by your company’s success. This should be our motivation to succeed; this should be our incentive for profit. How rewarding it is to go home at the end of the day knowing that your efforts, your strategizing and your integrity have helped in some way provide for so many families.
By the same token, the success of any company is directly attributable to its employees. Employees will make or break any business and it is vital to captain your corporation and its employees with a humble confidence, being open to fresh ideas and advice no matter who it may come from but also confident in your final decisions. So, at the end of the month when you analyze your profitability, take a few moments to thank the very people who made it possible to attain such success, and if, in the future, our bottom line
Are we at a turning point in the
reverse mortgage industry? Absolutely: Major changes are upon us. But whether these changes are debilitating, or simply bumps in the road that will only make this industry stronger, a great part is dependent on us as the decision makers. More than ever we must navigate through these perilous waters in order to continue the growth of this powerful product and ensure the continued prosperity of our employees and their families for years to come.