Lenders Launch Extreme Summit to Rebrand, Grow Reverse Mortgage Market

As the first industrywide effort of its kind, a new campaign is under way to revolutionize the public perception of reverse mortgage products—and it has financial backing to make some serious headway over the next five years.

The concept, coined the “Extreme Summit,” by those who are leading the charge, including lenders and the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association, is supported by several lenders and industry participants that have committed a collective $2 million so far to pilot some of the ideas, from advertising to geo-targeting and raising awareness about reverse mortgages across media outlets.

Contingent upon the success of the pilots, that investment could grow exponentially over the course of the coming years.

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The effort has been a year in the making after it stemmed from a brainstorm session during a NRMLA conference last year, led by Liberty Home Equity Solutions CEO Otto Kumbar.

“It started with a monstrous brainstorm session, and the decision to keep just the best ideas in terms of turning the product reputation around,” Kumbar told RMD. “The major firms are committing an [unprecedented amount of funding] compared to what we’ve done in the past.”

The initiative is working with advertising professionals and other participants within the industry and outside, hinging on three principals: geo-targeting toward the areas of greatest opportunity,  driving “3:1 positive” impressions in the news, and rebranding.

While the team has been relatively mum on details, lenders are meeting regularly toward the pilots, which are expected to roll out in the coming year. The Extreme Summit welcomes all participants toward growing incremental volume through its efforts. All ideas are open for consideration, Kumbar says.

“If someone comes in with a better idea tomorrow, this is survival of the fittest,” he says. “It’s not a top-down organization. An idea has to win everyone else over in order to get instituted.”

Written by Elizabeth Ecker

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  • While agreeing with the idea that the campaign “has financial backing to make some serious headway over the next five years,” there does not seem to be the financial backing to achieve all of the ambitious goals desired. Mr. Kumbar rightly proclaims that “the major firms are committing an [unprecedented amount of funding] compared to what we’ve done in the past” but is it enough? Will those making the commitments be able to meet them? We have all seen churches fail due to well intentioned members not being able to meet their contribution commitments.

    It is rare for a task force to work effectively and successfully when run democratically. Perhaps this is an exception since for now the need is so obvious and so great.

    This is the best possibility to change things up and give the origination of HECMs a new lease on life. Indeed the recent changes to the program afford the opportunity to do just that.

    This is an opportunity which should not be passed up. The three principles presented are a good working strategy to guide this project through its initial stages.

    Congratulations to all those who have worked so hard to put this together. Now may the industry work in harmony to achieve the desired results.

  • In the age we live in, it is the survival of the wisest, not the fittest. A couple of questions: Who will profit from this “rebranding”? What are the real sources of the product’s image problems? Who will guard the new image from the fate of the old? Are there better ways to help the product’s and the industry’s reputation without throwing away real money on “rebranding”?

    • Atare,

      Both the company Otto runs and James works for will definitely and directly benefit from the campaign as will most very large lenders who participate in this campaign and generally log over 50% of all endorsed HECMs each month. Few TPOs and small lenders will benefit directly since their financial and time commitments will generally be small.

      However, if successful, the entire industry should benefit if not directly, at least indirectly as will all future large and small lenders and TPOs which are not participating in the industry today.

      Your questions are well stated here but should be directed to Otto and the others actively and financially participating in the program as well. Now is the time to do that.

    • Atare- you raise good questions. Now, how about stepping up to the plate with some answers? What do you think on all the questions you’ve raised? Your insight and eloquence in expressing your thoughts would be welcome in the process.

      • Peter,

        NRMLA and the “Team of Lenders” are in control of the process and as the article states:
        ” While the team has been relatively mum on details, lenders are meeting regularly toward the pilots, which are expected to roll out in the coming year.”
        I think Atare raises some interesting questions and maybe NRMLA and the “Team of Lenders”should be, as you say: “stepping up to the plate” with some answers”.

      • Bob —
        Thank you. I accept that “rebranding” may be a good idea; that the folks behind it have good intentions, and I salute their effort so far. However, there is something I am still trying to wrap my mind around:
        How do you “rebrand” a public product … created, insured, and regulated by the federal government through bureaucrats at HUD without the input or resources (my assumption here may be wrong) of the federal government and its bureaucrats?
        Again, I thank you for resisting industry group-think.

  • Having worked for Liberty at one point in my career I found Otto to be friendly, open and accessible to anyone who approached him with an idea or comment. I support the Extreme Summit and wish all of us in the industry a positive outcome.

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