Reverse Mortgage Rules of the Road are Set, But Where Does the Industry Go?

This year has seen several significant rule-makings come to the Home Equity Conversion (HECM) program that have changed the way reverse mortgage professionals do business. Now that these long-awaited updates have finally arrived, it appears that the rules of the road have been set for 2015 and maybe even 2016.

But where does the industry go from here? Reverse mortgage lenders and other industry participants may soon find out at this year’s National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association (NRMLA) conference in San Francisco next month.

The tagline for this year’s annual gathering is “The Golden Gate to Retirement Security: Reverse Mortgages and Longevity,” a play on words hitting not only on the event’s location, but the role of reverse mortgages within the broader picture of retirement planning.

“Nobody gets a reverse mortgage just to get one,” NRMLA President and CEO Peter Bell tells RMD. “People get a reverse mortgage ideally to help deploy a strategy to sustain themselves comfortably through a prolonged life. The significance of the [conference] title is to further the thought that we’re part of a bigger picture.”

The three day event held November 16-18 features a variety of sessions paneled by reverse mortgage originators, big and small, on the topics of sales, marketing and advertising for originators and brokers, implementing Financial Assessment and calculating Life Expectancy Set-Asides, and more.

“There are a lot of practical sessions, including a number of topics on aging in place,” Bell said.

One panel on sales distribution channels, moderated by Adrian Prieto of American Advisors Group, will feature a discussion on the different models reverse mortgage companies rely on to originate loans, including direct to consumer, call centers and wholesale channels. The session will feature input from representatives at American Advisors Group, Reverse Mortgage Funding, Liberty Home Equity Solutions, Urban Financial of America and Responsible Reverse Mortgage, Inc.

The session will enable attendees to hear ideas from some of the industry’s top lenders on ways they have organized their companies to build a market and be effective in producing reverse mortgages, Bell said.

In terms of outside industry speakers, the event will feature keynote remarks from Kathleen Zadareky, deputy assistant secretary for Single Family Housing at HUD on one day of the conference and, on another day, a keynote from Nora Dowd Eisenhower, assistant director for the Office of Older Americans at the CFPB.

While these are the two most significant regulators that work with the reverse mortgage industry, attendance from the CFPB is unique this year.

“This is the first time the CFPB is coming and sitting down directly with a gathering of the reverse mortgage industry,” Bell said. “Hopefully that session will result in an evolving partnership between NRMLA and the CFPB.”

This year’s event will also feature a session that discusses major research findings on satisfaction and acceptance of reverse mortgages among consumers. Presenters include Stephanie Moulton, associate professor at the John Glenn School of Public Affairs at Ohio State University; and Thomas Davidoff, associate professor at the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver—who recently spoke with RMD about his past research on reverse mortgages and the obstacles preventing greater utilization of the product.

The diverse backgrounds and fields of expertise among speakers at this year’s NRMLA conference intentionally creates a melting pot of ideas gathering centrally at a forum focused exclusively on reverse mortgages and the solutions to funding longevity.

“The success of the reverse mortgage industry is integrating what we do with a broader set of planning for living in retirement years, and the discussion has to be broader than what we do just in the reverse mortgage world,” Bell said.

Written by Jason Oliva

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