A dozen professionals working in various sectors across the reverse mortgage space share their goals for the coming year and their hopes for the HECM market in 2014.

Brien Brandenburg
TowneBank Mortgage
“We will look to engage in marketing and advertising efforts that are new and have not been tried before, and will couple this effort with our tried-and-true methods of networking and advertising. Our goal is to not only maintain the number of HECMs done at TowneBank Mortgage, but also to grow where possible by adding successful reverse mortgage loan officers and by assisting our existing team members in maintaining and growing the business they currently are doing. We cannot do what has always been done and get what we’ve always gotten.”

“I have four main hopes for our industry: I hope that Financial Assessment does not cause our business to drop 30 to 50 percent by excluding seniors that would otherwise benefit from a HECM. I hope that we will see new proprietary reverse mortgages that can fill gaps where the HECM cannot help or is not appropriate. I hope that if rates do go up, and I know they will, that HUD will consider adjusting principal limit factors in response. I hope, finally, that our industry can set the tone regarding HECM and get our message out, rather than allowing others to sway public opinion.”

John Mitchell
Reverse Mortgage USA
“Our goal for 2014 is to truly up our game at the art of originating reverse mortgage loans. At our company, we have a defined methodology and discipline that revolves around building relationships with our customers. With the help of some world-renowned experts in the relationship business, I know we can accomplish this.”

“Regarding my hopes for the HECM market in 2014, I think it is astonishing that we as an industry have a 2.5 percent penetration rate. That’s a marketing problem caused by making the product appear too complex. That is particularly problematic in the media-driven world we live in today. There is so much information coming at us all the time that we tune everything out, and anything that appears to be complex, we really tune out. It’s the ‘clutter factor.’ In the end, this is really a simple product that serves a fundamental need in society that is growing every day. In 2014, we intend to get this message across in a simple way.”

Scott Norman
Sente Mortgage
“There are 10,000 seniors retiring every day, most with less than two years’ worth of funds saved for retirement. If we don’t seriously start to embrace the concept of monetizing home equity in the context of retirement planning, I believe our economy will continue

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to drift until state and local governments hit that really big iceberg in the distance. Having said that, I have one primary goal: to educate one financial planner or CPA every day on the true benefits of reverse mortgages. If I can embrace that process, the end goal will work itself out.”

“2014 is arguably the most critical year the industry has ever faced. While I believe Financial Assessment will be a game-changer for all of us, I also believe the prospects for a flourishing industry are literally limitless. For those of us in the arena, there may never be a better business opening than we have now. My hope is that we can seize the opportunities that are right in front of us.”

Shannon Hicks
Reverse Focus
“Reverse Focus’ mission in 2014 is to further equip industry professionals with strategic training, which exposes the true flexibility of the new HECM program despite recent changes. In addition, we will be expanding the integration capabilities of our groundbreaking CRM Sales Engine for both origination and business relationship management.”

“Our aspiration for our industry is to see our sales force expand its market share through the continued education of financial professionals, Realtors and public relations campaigns. We firmly believe that with the total percentage of eligible homeowners who have a reverse mortgage at a mere 2 percent, the challenge is not so much the product itself but the perception bias and the public’s continued unfamiliarity with the product.”

John Button
“Our goals for 2014 are to partner with leaders in the industry to provide ideas and tools that enable increased loan volumes; to educate and encourage forward-only originators to offer reverse loans; and to empower originators with additional system capabilities and integrations that speed up lending transactions and reduce defects.”

“Our hope is that the industry can achieve a volume of 100,000 loans. Also, that everyone in the industry comes to recognize, and enthusiastically pursue, the potential in the new HECM product to meet retiree needs and generate business.”

Trevor Gauthier
Accenture Mortgage Cadence
“In 2014, Accenture Mortgage Cadence will remain focused on delivering technology and services to lenders that enhance the experience for borrowers, increase efficiency for lenders and aid compliance throughout the mortgage cycle. The mortgage market is obviously shifting to purchase lending. It would be easy to say we have been here before, but we have not. This shift to purchase marks the first time in 30 years that rates are likely to steadily rise as the next phase in the rate cycle begins. We’re focused on this fundamental change and all it means, helping our customers take full advantage of the opportunities ahead.”

“HECM program changes are likely to cause overall volume to drop in the first half of 2014. That said, housing prices are expected to continue appreciating, which bodes well for the future of the reverse market. Consequently, we expect volume to begin increasing in the latter half of next year. Changes to the program may invite the return of proprietary reverse products since the new rules limit the amount of equity homeowners may draw upon. Draw restrictions, too, are another factor that may entice proprietary reinvention.

Steve McClellan
Urban Financial of America (UFA)
“With our new ownership group in place and Brian Libman on board as our new executive chairman and primary shareholder, 2014 will be an exciting time. We’ll continue to build and expand our best-in-class sales and operations platform. Our commitment to and relationships with our wholesale partners remain paramount, and we’ll continue to enhance the business resources that are available to them. In this ever-changing industry, now more than ever it’s important to focus our attention on the details—what processes we can fine-tune, and what technology we can implement to make the machine move more efficiently. We’ll certainly be investing in our technological infrastructure in the year ahead. Also, with the company name change behind us, we’ll continue to build our brand and establish a clear identity that reflects our principles, our eye toward the future and our commitment to reverse mortgages as an essential retirement tool.”

“Armed with all the necessary product changes, the industry can finally break down the barriers that have kept financial advisors, Realtors, attorneys and consumers from embracing HECMs as a safe and smart retirement instrument. The baby boomers are in need of income-generating financial products, and they have more than $3 trillion in home equity that they will have to access to remain comfortable during retirement. We have some work to do to broaden understanding of the product and overcome misconceptions. But fortunately, we as an industry have a great story to tell. And with the enhanced public relations campaigns that UFA and others are funding through NRMLA, I hope and expect that we’ll see the needle move, and product acceptance will be attainable.”

David Peskin
Reverse Mortgage Funding (RMF)
“Our primary goal is to continue to focus on the rollout of our exciting new product, which we believe will help fill a void in the current marketplace. Our new product will appeal to both consumers and lenders and provide a benefit to both. In 2014, our goal will be to educate both consumers and partners on our new product and provide ample training and support for our lender partners. We also plan to diversify our revenue model and expand into new origination channels.”

“I’m hoping lenders will be able to adjust to this new environment, the changes to principal limits and mandatory obligation limitations. Lenders will need to learn to adjust their business model to account for changes in loan economics, more stringent underwriting and a potential adjustment in overall volume. If lenders can adjust and right-size their business operationally, we should see a very bright future. Our hope is that we can continue to offer new products to help lenders adjust in this new environment as well as provide them with tools to become more operationally efficient, driving down their internal cost per loan.”

Cheryl Chargin
“AAG has developed wonderful sales and marketing resources, and we plan to continue to revise and expand these materials in 2014. We recently invited our partners to a two-part training webinar titled ‘How to Sell the New HECM,’ and we intend to develop similar programs that will address whatever challenges our partners may face in the coming year. We aim to be a valuable resource and will continue to work hard to offer the highest level of support to our partners.”

“I hope industry participants continue to educate consumers about the value of the product and highlight the amazing ways a HECM can help senior borrowers. Those benefits are not lost after the recent changes. We still have a lot of room to help a lot of people, and we need to get that message out.”

David Stroop
Mortgage Information Services
“In 2014, Mortgage Information Services (MIS) will continue to develop and implement new technological solutions that further streamline the title/closing and appraisal process for our clients. We will use all available sources—social media; traditional print advertising; attending, sponsoring and speaking at industry conferences and events—to increase brand recognition. I also expect MIS’ reputation as a high-quality provider and customer service-oriented company to expand, bringing in new client opportunities via word of mouth as leaders in the industry look to see what is working for their peers.”

“Overall, I see 2014 as being positive for the reverse market. Interest rates will continue to rise, which should lead to more senior borrowers exploring the opportunities presented by reverse mortgages, as opposed to traditional refis or home equity loans. And maybe more importantly, I believe that more financial advisors will turn to the reverse mortgage as a viable financial tool for their eligible clients, counteracting the misconceptions that some borrowers have with the product.”

Christopher Bruser
Security One Lending
“My personal goals to advance my business in 2014 are to remain steadfast in my message to financial advisors that it’s crucial to look at the suitable use of home equity as a retirement income solution for their older clients. Keeping their clients’ goals at the forefront of their planning and addressing their concerns about outliving retirement assets due to longevity risk has got to be a high priority. I will also aim to continue to inform and educate the general public, Realtors, builders and financial planners about the ‘awesomeness’ of the HECM for Purchase program. My goal is to EDUCATE, EDUCATE, EDUCATE!”

“With the revolutionary changes to the HECM program still fresh in our minds and Financial Assessment right around the corner, my hope for the new year is that the public perception of reverse mortgages takes a more positive turn. If we can break down the previous negative connotations associated with this program so that it is viewed as a fundamentally sound option for mainstream America, there will be a very bright future for not only the HECM market, but for older homeowners across all income brackets.”

Rob Awalt
Premier Reverse Closings (PRC)
“My goal is to continue to do what got us to where we are today. PRC has become the company it is by doing things the right way, not basing things on economics or the pressure of getting a deal done. We aim to continue to make a concerted effort to get out and see our partners and customers and to solidify our relationships. We want to determine our partners’ goals and support those goals along the way. In the first quarter of 2014, we’ll also be transitioning to a new, robust platform that will give us the tools to be relevant on a go-forward basis.”

“With the recent product changes, I’ve seen the industry pulling together and looking at how to collectively create new products and promote positive action in our space. We’ve all talked about this and tried to do it over the years, but it was never truly a collective effort. My hope is that this will continue. There’s a silver lining in the challenges we’re facing: It’s an arduous path, but at least we know now what path we need to take. We now know what to expect and what we need to do to adapt. If we can get through these hurdles, those of us who will remain in the space will benefit. On the other side of this there is going to be a defined benefit to those who stay the course.”

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