How I got My Reverse Mortgage Start: Rhiannon Behnke, Security One

Rhiannon Behnke is no stranger to the mortgage business. From family roots in California’s largest private mortgage banker to having almost every job role imaginable in the reverse business, Behnke has made a home at San Diego’s Security One Lending as Director of Reverse Mortgage Sales. When she’s not out eating Mexican food with her son or taking walks with her Chihuahua, Max, she can be found working on Security One’s not-for-profit division, Community One. We sat down with Rhiannon to find out what got her started on reverse mortgages, and how a future boss once saved her from an awkward encounter at a bar.

RMD: When did you know it was the real deal with reverse mortgages?

Rhiannon Behnke: Do you really want to know?

RMD: That’s why we asked!

My obsession of wanting to do this for a living goes back to 10 years old.

RMD: Seriously? How could you have known at such a young age?

RB: To be honest, it was a little material-driven. My uncle was a bigwig for Directors Mortgage, the largest private mortgage banker in California. I wanted to know: “What does he do, and how do I do that?” At the same time, I was volunteering at a senior center and wondered how I could do that for a living but also work with this age population I was attracted to. Once that was stuck in my head…reverse mortgages. That was it.

Which companies have you worked for in the industry?

My first job was with Directors Mortgage. I worked on reverse mortgage files. Then they sold to Norwest Mortgage. They inherited me and I became a repair specialist. Then we merged into Wells Fargo.

[Wells Fargo’s] Jeff Taylor stepped in and gave me a shot as a loan officer. I moved to Florida and began working with borrowers for the first time. I learned what it was like to struggle and live on Rice-a-Roni. But the combination of persistence and marketing led to consistent originations, finally.

How did you get back to California and Security One?

Actually, it started at a bar in Carlsbad. I was commuting from seeing my family in Southern California to work in Florida when I bumped into Bob Sivori and Jim Cory at a bar on the coast. (They saved me from a crazy old lady at that bar!) Then we exchanged cards and I ended up going to work with them in New York and New Jersey. Slowly I made my way to Financial Freedom and back to California.

There, I learned wholesale, and Security One’s Torrey Larsen was one of my clients. I was his AE. I’ve looked up to him ever since.

And the rest is history?

Well, it took him five months and he didn’t know a thing about reverse mortgages, but yes, in January of 2007 I officially joined Security One.

Five years later…what do you see when you look back?

We’ve come so far. I saw our Pat Boone commercial this morning on the WeatherChannel and I nearly cried. We have also launched Community One, our not-for-profit division that works with different organizations on charitable causes.

So what remains the biggest challenge facing this industry?

Not being able to control regulations and knowing how to navigate around them. I’m not against change, but it’s the biggest challenge.

For visitors to Security One’s home town of San Diego, what’s not to be missed?

Mexican food. And I mean true Mexican food. Carne Asada burritos and best margarita you’ll ever have.

(Editor’s note: Rhiannon’s picks are Fidel’s in Carlsbad or Roberto’s for a quick burrito stop.)

Written by Elizabeth Ecker

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