While 2014 has seen lackluster reverse mortgage volume, one lender has notably bucked the curve: American Advisors Group.
The company funded its highest volume of retail loans in October, counting 1,208 closings—a 15% increase from September and setting a monthly record for the company.
A longtime retail reverse mortgage producer, the company is also seeing an uptick in its wholesale business, having grown the channel 62% since February.
AAG attributes its sales success in part to its ongoing reverse mortgage TV advertising campaign featuring its spokesman, former Sen. Fred Thompson. But its sales approach being two-pronged, as well as consistently adapting to industry change, are also driving results, the company’s head of retail sales tells RMD.
“AAG continues to serve two distinct senior borrower personas,” says Paul Fiore, executive vice president of retail lending. The two personas include first those who are seeking a reverse mortgage to relieve current financial pressures, but second, and more recently, those who are long-range retirement planners.
“From a selling standpoint, we’ve always been proficient in speaking to the first audience,” Fiore says. “However, the AAG team has become much more adept over the past year at promoting the benefits of a reverse mortgage to the longer-range planner audience.”
Adapting quickly to product changes and educating the entire sales staff across AAG’s call centers and field originators has also led to sales success, the company says, particularly in the context of an industry downturn that has been attributed in part to the product changes implemented in 2013 and this year.
“AAG provides an extensive amount of formal training to our loan officers to ensure they are knowledgeable about changes in the industry and understand how these changes could potentially impact borrowers. They also receive comprehensive, informal coaching to optimize their interactions with our valued borrowers,” Fiore says.
As part of the process, AAG’s originators take the borrower through an illustration of his or her real-world financial situation, including an “after” snapshot of how a reverse mortgage may benefit them, and how it will serve them over the next five to 15 years.
“We’ve become very effective in analyzing the client’s information and presenting the post-loan financial picture,” Fiore says.
The advertising campaigns help drive leads to the company, but the training and other sales processes help to close loans, AAG says.
“I think the results we’re seeing right now reflect AAG’s ability to clearly explain the impact and benefits that recent industry changes bring to borrowers,” Fiore says. “When the changes began rolling out last year, we had a bit of a learning curve to get in front of. But over time, we’ve been given an opportunity to master the conversation with the borrower.”
Written by Elizabeth Ecker