How I Got My Start: Marc Helm, Reverse Mortgage Solutions

From a career in forward mortgages and loan servicing expertise, what initially looked like retirement launched RMS’s Marc Helm into a reverse mortgage career spanning five years—and counting. Initially focusing company efforts on reverse mortgage servicing, Helm, who now serves as RMS president and CEO has seen the company from its early days to a company that now has its own origination channels, a burgeoning REO business and has become an active Ginnie Mae HMBS issuer. Helm sat down with RMD to tell us about how he got his start, and what’s on the horizon for Spring, Texas-based RMS.

What first piqued your interest in this industry?

I retired in early 2006 from the mortgage business. I was retired for about 10 days. I began to take on consulting assignments, and one was from a mortgage servicing provider with the assignment to help determine whether they should modify their system to be able to service reverse mortgages. Through that process, I learned a lot about reverse mortgages in visiting Wells Fargo, Fannie Mae and HUD.

When did you know it was the right fit to pursue servicing of reverse mortgages?

While I was learning about the business, I was also consulting in Connecticut, where I connected with [current partner and RMS Chief Information Officer] Kevin Gherardi. I found out he had been the developer of the early systems to service reverse mortgages and he asked if I wanted to see how it worked. We got to be really good friends. Meanwhile, Bob Yeary was originating in Southern California, and I picked his brain on the product. We had worked on and off for 20 years and had always wanted to start a business together.

I said, “Well Bob, I need you to meet a friend of mine, Kevin Gherardi.” We put a 16-page business plan together and went to New York to get a funding commitment for our company.

Our first loan was in 2007.

And the rest is history?

In July, 2007 we had four employees and 17 loans. Now, that’s over 63,000 loans and will be around 70,000 loans boarded during the upcoming second quarter of the year. We’re on target to be servicing 100,000 loans by year-end.

But it’s not what we thought we were going to do. We each brought different disciplines: Bob was originating, I was servicing, and Kevin, technology systems. We thought we’d market our servicing systems to those in the industry. But what we found was that they had their own proprietary systems, and most weren’t interested. It was then we decided to become a subservicer.

RMS has a lot of different business channels today. What about other business segments outside of subservicing?

We’re doing REO leasing and some claims work and we now have a division called S-cubed “S-cubed”—S3 for Specialty Servicing Solutions—for forward servicing. We have more than 300 employees—when you’re not a retail originator in this industry, that’s a big deal. We’re continuing to build the silos and we do everything from A to Z. We’re not a one trick pony. Will there be more business lines? There surely will.

What are the biggest challenges for the industry right now?

I think the biggest challenges are the unknowns. The CFPB and how it’s going to approach the reverse mortgage business. We also need more secondary market activity. It can’t just be Ginnie, Ginnie, Ginnie. We need more proprietary products. Sure, we have our issues. But I believe in this product more than any other product.

Knowing what you know now, what would you have done differently?

I think we’d have gone out of the gate being a subservicer.

Would you change anything?

This has been a remarkable experience. The best job I’ve ever had is the job I have now.

Written by Elizabeth Ecker

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