This fall, the reverse mortgage program surpassed one million loans, an important benchmark that highlights just how many seniors stand to benefit from this product. In its 27 years, the HECM program has helped seniors across the country find financial security in their later years, and we know it’s the program’s dedicated originators who have worked hard to make it all happen.
HECM originators have weathered countless policy changes, taking the time to educate themselves about new guidelines and stay current on product changes. They have worked hard to combat misconception, believing ardently in the HECM’s value and teaching anyone willing to learn about the important role a reverse mortgage can play in retirement planning.
To honor this program milestone, we reached out to a handful of seasoned reverse specialists and asked them to share their reflections about the HECM world and what their job means to them.
Sean Miller Reverse Mortgage Funding I am honored to be able to help improve seniors’ lives and earn a living doing what I love. My work in this industry has made me a better communicator, given me more patience and created an awareness that life is so fragile and short. The role of the HECM originator is truly unique in that we have the ability to break down the needs of the individual and structure the reverse mortgage to address the needs of a particular client.
Susan A. Pomfret Liberty Home Equity Solutions I’ve been in this industry for over 25 years, and find it incredibly rewarding to see how profoundly I’m able to help change seniors’ lives. After helping a couple who had been in their home more than 40 years, I received the following letter from their son. It does a great job summing up why I’m so passionate about what I do. “You are my family’s saving angel. You truly are a gift from God. Through your undying efforts and tenacity... you saved my parents from being homeless and improved their lives more than you can ever know… I consider you as much a family member as any of my blood family.”
Michael Gruley 1st National Reverse Mortgage To me, this milestone represents progress—albeit progress slower than we would like. It means the HECM product is that much closer to becoming the product it can and will be to a nation of older Americans who are definitely in need of additional retirement options.
My passion for my work is firmly rooted in serving aging people and the elderly, and I feel a sense of honor in doing so. The work is just the result of that passion, and with my experience and knowledge in the field of reverse mortgages, I am able to serve older adults in a valuable and meaningful way.
Due to the uniqueness of the HECM product, the age demographic of the typical client, and the multitude of challenges our clients may face financially, physically, mentally or emotionally, the role of the HECM originator is often more vocational than just transactional.
Ed O’Connor First Bank This milestone confirms to me that the program is still strong and gaining traction in spite of the naysayers. I am passionate about my work because for some, this program allows them to maintain their home and their independence. My work in this industry has made me even more empathetic to others’ situations and I have enjoyed the opportunity to help others, as I have done in all of my careers. It is truly enlightening to be able to educate others and show them how things can work for them.
Dennis Loxton Liberty Home Equity Solutions Prior to entering the HECM industry in late 2004, I was a financial advisor and then an institutional securities wholesaler. While those were both interesting careers, they did not provide the sense of accomplishment that we get every time we close a HECM. At every closing, we look at our clients across the table and know we’ve helped improve their financial and housing situation. It’s this type of unique fulfillment and sense of service that motivates me to always provide the highest level of service possible to our clients.
While today’s reverse mortgage professional definitely needs to have the brain of a forward loan officer, our role as a HECM originator isn’t just about pushing paper—it’s about the entire holistic approach of serving the client. Many times, a client will ask us for advice because we’ve established a special level of trust that few others do. Over the years, I’ve been approached by many forward firms looking to get into the space and I advise them that unlike the forward world, you need to be prepared for clients calling three, four or five years later just wanting to talk, and that they need to hire the right professionals that are capable of providing a high level of empathy and service.
This product is sold with a very long life cycle. In some cases, there are clients that take 12, 24, or even 36 months to make the decision to move forward. In addition to learning to be very patient with prospects and family members, this business also forces you to learn humility rather quickly. We have a special position of trust when working with our clients, and this is a responsibility that we take seriously. It is this special bond with our clients and their families that provides a sense of accomplishment that I didn’t get in past careers.