Reverse Mortgage Success Falls on Training in Wake of Change

Despite reverse mortgage industry volume at at 12-month low according to April numbers from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, one in the top five by volume, are closing a record number of loans. American Advisors Group posted roughly 1,200 loan closings during the month of April, more than twice the loan count of its next competitor in the volume rankings.

While AAG benefits from a national ad campaign featuring former Senator Fred Thompson, the company’s director of sales says the recent success comes down to one thing: training.

“For us or for anybody, the biggest challenge is how do you explain all the changes?” says Paul Fiore, ‎executive vice president of retail lending at AAG. “We sell the product as a new product and focus on the value to the borrower.”

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The centralized nature of AAG’s platform is also beneficial, as training to the company’s 800-plus employees that are largely based in one place saves time and costs.

“One of the advantages of being centralized is you can hone in on the changes that occur. We teach to the changes and client base so they understand the benefit that remains. We try not to get caught up on how much less the borrower can get.”

Further, AAG says most clients are not aware of the changes because they are early in the reverse mortgage research process when they contact an originator, so originators work with them on the product today rather than reflecting on the product of the past.

“Most clients have not been a part of those changes, so for them, it’s a new product,” Fiore says. “We have to sell them with the same enthusiasm.”

The focus on training is ongoing and often takes place in advance of changes being implemented. For example, AAG currently is training to the changes outlined in Mortgagee Letter 2014-07 regarding new non-borrowing spouse interpretations. The company is also getting employees up to speed now on the financial assessment that has been promised by HUD but has yet to be released officially or set for implementation.

“We’ve never focused on the interest rate or margin. We don’t focus on anything other than: Does the loan make sense for the client?”

Written by Elizabeth Ecker