Program Teaches Financial Planners Strategic Use of Reverse Mortgages

A growing number of financial advisors have looked to new designation programs to better guide retirees on how to plan for retirement. 

One such program, which teaches advisors about the strategic use of reverse mortgages, has grown in popularity since springing up three years ago — perhaps because of its uniqueness. 

The Retirement Income Certified Professional (RICP) designation became the fastest-growing financial advisor credential ever launched in The American College of Financial Services’ 88-year history, according to a recent article on ThinkAdvisor, which notes that some 1,500 financial planners have completed the program, and another 7,000 are currently enrolled.


“The program was designed specifically to address retirement income planning,” said David A. Littell, RICP Retirement Income program director at The New York Center for Retirement Income at the college. “We thought that was what advisors needed. That is what they were asking for. That is what the industry was looking for.”

The RICP program includes a curriculum that focuses on key topics, including long-term care planning, health care planning and different strategies for converting assets into income, Jamie Hopkins, associate director in the RICP program told Retirement Wire. 

One of these strategies is the use of home equity, specifically reverse mortgages, to better plan for retirement. 

“We also cover strategic use of home equity,” Hopkins said. “There is quite a bit on reverse mortgages — in part because there is more and more research showing that you can use a reverse mortgage strategically; not just as a last resort, but as a strategic part of your retirement income plan.”

While some financial planners are still not sold on the use of reverse mortgages in retirement planning, surveys reveal the need for more dialogue on the product. 

“You can use it as a line of credit, and there are some studies that show you might be better off taking it earlier,” Hopkins said. “Some of the research supports that, although a lot of people have very strong feelings about reverse mortgages, and some of it very negative.”

Written by Emily Study

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  • The improved image of reverse mortgages in the financial planning community will be a long hard process. As lenders began making some meaningfully significant attempts at reaching out to the financial planning community several experienced HECM originators warned that if the industry is expecting significant growth in the short term from this source, we would be disappointed.

    While the RICP has far more certificate holders and certificate candidates than the HECM industry has originators, it is hard to believe that reverse mortgage curriculum will have a significant impact on endorsements. To gain a strong foothold will take several years of hard work with strong examples and a large variety of examples to make much of a dent in this segment.

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