3 Tips to Forging Reverse Mortgage Relationships with Financial Planners

There may not be a “silver bullet” when it comes to reverse mortgage loan originators forging partnerships with financial planners or a mortgage broker, but some are seeing major success due to a persistent and strategic approach.

“It doesn’t happen overnight, but for the folks who determined they wanted business to come as [financial planning] referrals, they have had a wonderful experience,” says Shelley Giordano, chair of the Funding Longevity Task Force, an organization established in 2013 to help educate financial planners through various partnerships.

Through her work with originators as well as the financial planning community, Giordano says that while it requires some effort, the work is paying off for those who are committed to it.

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“Everyone’s trying to look for a silver bullet,” she says. “There’s no such thing. The people who have been successful have made a commitment to this channel.”

RMD spoke with Giordano about some of the tips and best practices utilized by those experiencing success with financial planning partnerships.

1. There’s no shortcut. Loan officers need to understand that like all relationships, referral or otherwise, financial planning relationships are not a quick fix.

Those who are successful are persistent, Giordano says.

“They’re putting themselves out there, and feeling a little uneasy. But most importantly, they do this repeatedly and are pushing themselves to connect with financial services [professionals].”

2. Consider continuing education channels. Teaching continuing education classes can be one way to gather the target audience into one room.

“The people who have been most successful have spent an awful lot of time providing educating credits—through CE or some kind of educational environment so that they are reaching lots of financial services folks but in a way that is non threatening,” Giordano says.

One of the most successful members of the group has had so much demand, she has had to turn down potential business due to the number of calls she receives.

3. Maintain concentration and join the “mission.” The mission is that American retirees are entitled to know how housing wealth can make a contribution to a safe retirement, Giordano says.

Loan originators should lean on the wealth of research that has been published showing how reverse mortgages are proven to help most retirees and encourage financial planners to view the option as a possibility that needs to be mentioned.

Some financial planners are being paid by their clients as a percentage of their assets under management, but they are never taking note of housing wealth as a major part of those assets.

“They have to learn the value. That’s something our LOs can introduce them to. Then they will have a case,” Giordano says.

Written by Elizabeth Ecker

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  • While Ms. Giordano freely encourages us to reach out to financial advisers who charge fees based on the value of assets under management, a caveat must be carefully provided so that it is not mistakenly presumed that these so called financial advisers have a fiduciary responsibility to their customers. So that clear lines are drawn and bright lines can be addressed the correct name for these financial advisers is asset managers.

    Depending on the services they provide asset managers may not be required to hold and thus may not hold any state licenses or quasi governmental registrations; thus they may have no special legal fiduciary responsibility (defined as putting the interests of the client/customer before your own) to their clients/customers at all. On the other hand, depending on the state of licensure and where the borrower was at the time the advice was given, licensed reverse mortgage originators may have a special and specific fiduciary responsibility to their customers. Registered reverse mortgage originators generally do not have the same level of fiduciary responsibility even in the states where licensed reverse mortgage originators do but registrants need to speak with their company as to how legal fiduciary rules may impact their business practices.

    The point is that when asset managers provide services to their customers, they may or may not have a legal fiduciary responsibility to them depending on the service and any license they hold. If the asset manager holds no license or registration and advises a customer on getting a HECM or other reverse mortgage for the purpose of putting any portion of the proceeds to work in some kind of investment strategy, the fiduciary responsibility may be solely that of the originator. Since taking proceeds out of a HECM and allowing the asset manager to purchase assets is nothing more than leveraged financing and since those assets will be subject to management fees simply based on their value, any loss or less than “market returns” could be attributed to the advice of the reverse mortgage originator and a lack of care of putting the interests of the borrower (a high risk for loss in leveraged investing which may include unwarranted fees) above the interests of the originator (origination compensation). If proven once against an originator in conjunction with the advice a specific asset manager it can be assumed that if other customers are shared, similar breaches of the fiduciary standard of care have occurred.

    So not only “know thy customer” but also know the level of legal fiduciary responsibility of thy referral source. It would be a shame if fiduciary responsibility violations working with asset managers spoiled the situation for reverse mortgage originators working with all financial advisers even those not providing asset management services.

    As used to be said on Hill Street Blues with great regularity: “Let’s be careful out there.”

    For an interesting overview of mortgage originators and fiduciary standards, see:

    http://mortgagefiduciaries.com/about/

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