Commentary: For the industry to thrive, we need to change the messaging

Author Jarred Talmadge offers thoughts on expanding the pool of borrowers by focusing on messaging

It’s time for a seismic shift to occur in the reverse mortgage industry if we want to continue to grow. As an industry, we penetrate less than 3% of the total addressable market. If 97% of seniors who could have a reverse mortgage either don’t have one, don’t know about it or mistakenly believe all the negative hype about the industry, it’s time for us to proactively change things.

Our industry suffers from marketing overlap. We all go to the same conferences, we all talk about the same topics in the same ways, and about the same things. We all mistakenly go after the same talking points, and we are doing it to seniors who are largely ignoring us.

We are fighting each other for 3% of the pie when we should be shifting our tactics to gain more business instead of taking shots at each other.

What is the hardest of all sales to close? It’s the first-time reverse customer. We have a tall mountain to climb with new-to-reverse customers because we must overcome not only the negative rhetoric about the reverse mortgage product itself, but also our own industry’s advertising.

Jarred Talmadge, reverse mortgage originator and author.
Jarred Talmadge

We can’t sit idly by and entrust our futures to paid sales representatives talking about how a reverse mortgage is the same as a forward mortgage. We can’t keep doing that, because the world doesn’t believe it, and they probably never will. It’s time to change our collective thinking.

This is one of the things I try to address in my book, No Place Like Home: The New Way to Pay for In-Home Care and Aging-in-Place.  In-home health care agencies are nothing new to reverse mortgage lenders. But to agencies, we are absolutely something new.

We’ve been talking about it for decades: There is a coming wave of Baby Boomers who will need our help. It’s time for us to step up, change the messaging, and change the way we go about marketing ourselves and our industry.

It’s time.

Baby Boomers are starting to realize that their retirement may not be as safe as they once thought it would be. With the pandemic still fresh in everyone’s minds, our clients don’t want to go to nursing homes. They want to age in place, and we can reframe retirement by selling to financial planners, estate planners, and even to the public by talking about how our products can change the course of seniors’ retirements.

As an industry, we can continue to fight each other over the scraps that the traditional mortgage business leaves us. Or, we can agree there is plenty of business out there. Even a shift as small as moving from 3% to 5% penetration would change everything for all of us.

So, as an industry, why don’t we decide to make a collective change to the ways we market ourselves? We could all effectively double our business and still not achieve over 10% market penetration, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make significant progress for ourselves and our business.

People like Dave Ramsey may not be fond of our product. But, instead of knocking why the guy’s information is out of date, why don’t we learn from how he built his business? After all, if you put any of us up against him, we would surely lose.

But, if we can learn from him about expanding our markets, and if we could double the market penetration as an industry, who in our market wouldn’t benefit from doubling their business?  Marketing to our industry is not a zero-sum game.

For me to win, it doesn’t mean you need to lose. We can all win, we just need to change the way we market.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Reverse Mortgage Daily and its owners.

To contact the author of this story: Jarred Talmadge at [email protected]

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Clow at

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