Written by Rex Duffin, as originally published in The Reverse Review.

I began working in this industry in the late ’70s, and my time in the HECM world has taught me that nothing beats working with a borrower in person. The product’s complexity and rampant misconception means that the loan often requires a lengthy discussion to clear up confusion and educate borrowers on how it really works. I have spent my career doing whatever I can to make a face-to-face meeting happen.

I started originating mortgages for a relatively small regional lender, and we faced—as most lenders did—significant challenges during the mortgage meltdown. In 2008, with the downturn in full bloom, I turned my attention to reverse mortgages. It didn’t take long for me to become deeply passionate about the life-changing benefits of this unique financial product.

But I soon learned that to be successful in closing these loans, I had to get in front of borrowers. This was fine by me, as I enjoy meeting with clients in their homes far more than sitting behind a desk! I will be the first to say, I’m not fond of hissing cats or hyper dogs that sometimes insist on donating a portion of their coat to my slacks, but I do enjoy connecting with clients on a personal level and learning about their lives. The more I know about their situations, the better I am able to help.

My lender’s footprint spans four states—Arizona, California, Utah and New Mexico—and because of this, it can be difficult to get in front of their clients. This does not stop me. Whenever possible, I climb into my vintage 1967 Piper Cherokee and fly to my clients, wherever they are.

I’ve been passionate about the world of flight since I was 16. When I received my first hard-earned paycheck as a teen, I took flight instructions each week. And I did this without my parents’ knowledge! I knew it would be easier to inform them about it on the day before I soloed than to ask for permission. My surprised dad drove to the airport with me and was quite shocked when I actually took controls of the aircraft that day.

When I tell a customer to meet me at their local airport, that I’m flying in myself to meet with them, they are usually quite surprised. I am quick to tell them, though, not to be too impressed. My airplane is probably not worth as much as the car they drive.

If there’s a restaurant at the airport, I will buy them breakfast as we look over the application. Other times, they give me a ride to their home and we’ll spend the better part of the day together, talking about how a HECM could meet their needs.

Some call me crazy for flying a single-engine airplane, but I’m grateful for the privilege and I think my customers appreciate the fact that I will fly to meet them. For me, it’s a win-win as I get to do two things I love: fly my plane and help people find a path toward financial security.