Origins: From programmer to yoga instructor, to reverse mortgage professional

Frank Borg of Fairway Independent Mortgage has worn many hats including actor, yoga instructor and programmer, but has found a home in the reverse mortgage business

It’s likely fair to say that someone does not often dream of joining the reverse mortgage business when they’re a kid. People are complex, with dreams and interests that can take them on numerous potential career paths before realizing an aptitude for a particular kind of business. This is absolutely the case for Frank Borg, a reverse mortgage professional with Fairway Independent Mortgage Corp. and who works in the Seattle area, just north of the city in a town called Lynnwood.

Borg’s professional path took him to several different places including the performance stage as an actor — something he still takes part in — as well as the forward mortgage world. After the tumult in the mortgage business brought about by the financial crisis of 2007-08, he decided to lean on some of his earlier aptitudes for athletics and parlay that into work as a yoga instructor, something which felt natural to him due to his previous work in ballet.

With the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, remote instruction for yoga was not something he felt particularly connected to, and decided to see how the mortgage world had been responding to the pandemic environment. Ultimately, that curiosity brought about his induction into the world of reverse mortgages.

Reverse mortgage awareness and how COVID brought him into the fold

Prior to his entrance into the traditional mortgage field in 2001, Borg had a career as a professional ballet dancer before retiring from ballet and deciding to change paths. He would go on to spend nearly 14 years in the traditional mortgage arena, working through some of the darkest days of the financial crisis before deciding that it was time for another change.

Frank Borg, reverse mortgage professional with Fairway Independent Mortgage Corp.
Frank Borg

It was during his time in the forward space that he became acquainted with reverse mortgages, sharing that his own perspectives at that time likely conformed to those of many people on the outside of the business.

“It wasn’t on my radar, but all I knew initially about reverse mortgages was that they were very expensive,” he said of his feelings at the time. “My attitudes aligned, I think, with a lot of people’s attitudes. If you don’t know what you’re getting when you’re paying for something that’s expensive, then you think it’s too expensive if you don’t understand the value. So, that’s really the most straightforward way I can answer that question. That’s all I knew about them before I got here to Fairway back in 2020.”

With the difficulty of the financial and mortgage climate weighing on him, Borg decided to leave the traditional space in 2014, going back to school for a software developer specialization in the C++ programming language with an intention to join the wider, ubiquitous tech industry in the Seattle area.

However, the sedentary nature of the work that put him in front of a computer screen for hours at a time didn’t end up feeling like a great fit either, so he found himself dipping his toes back into mortgage waters by becoming a business analyst and IT specialist at a mortgage company, having a background intersecting with both technology and mortgage. A volume reduction led to a layoff, so Borg transitioned into a role as a yoga instructor.

“I’ve been a longtime yoga meditation practitioner, so I got my yoga certification, and I was developing my classes and my following and teaching yoga in lots of places,” he said. “Then, what shut that down was COVID. I wasn’t interested in teaching online, so that opportunity ceased.”

Once again finding the prospect of sitting in front of a computer for hours to remotely teach yoga, Borg found himself ready to enter the mortgage space again, gaining his NMLS license in the state and ultimately joining Fairway.

Becoming a reverse mortgage professional

It wasn’t long before Borg found himself working under the purview of Fairway, and that association ultimately exposed him to educational materials for reverse as presented by the lender’s National Reverse Mortgage Director, Harlan Accola. Borg credits the proactivity of Fairway’s reverse division with first getting him interested in the product, and ultimately really concluding how reverse mortgages could be beneficial for borrowers.

“Harlan and his team, the reverse mortgage division at Fairway, is very proactive,” he said. “So, I kept getting these emails from Harlan and the reverse mortgage division, and then I started looking at them. My branch manager had done a few reverses, so he knew about it, and then there’s another person who does reverse in our branch. So, just from my association with a couple of the people in my branch, and then Harlan and the information coming from the reverse mortgage division, it just piqued my curiosity. So I took our training class on reverse mortgages, and I began very skeptically because of my initial ideas around reverse.”

Those perspectives began to erode the more he studied and sought out information about the mechanics of the products, Borg explained. After buying further into the concept of the product, Borg came to realize that the nature of the business is also something he both prefers and has an aptitude for because of prior experience.

“One of the things that I really enjoy about reverse is the timeline of a transaction,” he said. “You have to really get to know your borrowers. My dad was old when I grew up, so I’m very used to interacting with older adults, and I enjoy the pace that dictates. I like the timing of the transaction, and I really feel with these loans that I’m really, truly helping people.”

He found a kind of work that incorporated more of what he wanted. The pace of the transaction was slower, he found himself more regularly speaking to people directly and he ultimately finds the work to be more fulfilling — personally and professionally — than prior work in the mortgage space, he said.

“What I saw was that the way I worked with a consumer in [reverse] aligned more with the way I like to work,” he said. “That really deep dive, interpersonal kind of relationship, because we’re not just talking about mortgages, we’re talking about their family and what’s going on in their lives. And it’s just more fun, it’s more fulfilling. I feel like I’m doing more fulfilling work.”

Working in reverse also helps Borg to differentiate himself from a wide pool of forward mortgage professionals in and around Seattle, as well, he explained.

“There are so many fantastic forward loan officers in our area,” he said. “And looking at the opportunities present in reverse over the next decade, I just felt like the timing was really right for me to transition into focusing my outreach on reverse rather than forward mortgages.”

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