Fresh Blood: How Reverse Mortgage Sales Must Change in 2016 (Pt. II)

For the reverse mortgage industry to truly thrive in tomorrow’s marketplace, there needs to be greater investment in attracting, recruiting and training fresh talent, industry sales leaders agree.

The policy changes brought forth by the Financial Assessment and non-borrowing spouse updates have primed the reverse mortgage sector to take a deep breath and focus on growth over the next year, without having to worry about adjusting to yet another game-changing tweak to the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) program.

While some industry leaders have suggested several ways in which the reverse mortgage sales process needs to change from an originator standpoint, they agree that there must be increased efforts to pump new blood into the space.

“It’s a lot more tempting to bring in new people at this time because they are not carrying with them the legacy issues we had before, and they are not sitting back and wondering why we can’t go back to the ‘good old days,’” said Nancy Pedone, vice president of national sales at Responsible Reverse Mortgage, Inc., during the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association annual conference in San Francisco last month. “If you bring in somebody new—maybe somebody from the forward side—and train them how to do this, I think we’re going to have a lot more success with that.”

The size of the reverse mortgage space, given it is a niche industry, presents some barriers to attracting outside talent. And often times, the industry can be incestuous to a degree as sales people jump from lender to lender.

“We’ve got a certain amount of advisors who everybody knows and they tend to jump every couple of years to a new lender, just chasing basis points,” said Adrian Prieto, senior vice president of strategic business opportunities at American Advisors Group. “It’s hard to grow your sales team when you don’t have longevity or stability because someone else is offering more.”

Feeding into this cycle of turnover could be the lack of having a program strong enough to train and recruit new personnel, and create value for them that makes these team members wanting and willing to stay.

“I think maybe all of us are guilty here,” Prieto said. “If we are going to do that, there has to be a huge commitment on training and bringing new people.”

Given the series of changes to the HECM program over the past few years, the reverse mortgage industry is now in a more stable position to look ahead and invest in the future, without having to worry about the next foreseeable policy gamechanger.

“When we start looking at the future now, we can have a real conversation about how to grow this industry in all channels—call center, wholesale, retail—whatever it may be,” said Scott Norman, vice president of field retail at Finance of America Reverse (formerly Urban Financial of America).

One of those investments, Norman added, has to be investing in this loan officer of the future.

“Recycling loan officers that aren’t very good or aren’t very professional is a hard way to run a railroad,” he said. “Where we are today is so different than where we’ve been in the past that it gives us a different vantage point, and gives us the ability to hit reset, take a deep breath, and really start looking into the future.”

Written by Jason Oliva

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