This Reverse Mortgage Lender’s Two-Fold Strategy for Attracting Fresh Talent

Attracting new talent to the reverse mortgage sector not only grows the pool of skilled professionals equipped to serve America’s booming senior population, but can also provide non-industry personnel with a fresh perspective on the significance of home equity in retirement planning.

Changes to the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage program in recent years, and the variety of financial planning research that has since followed, provides an opportunity for the reverse mortgage industry to reach professionals beyond its niche in the broader financial services industry.

Reverse mortgage lenders and industry services providers continue to educate, network and recruit outside professionals to the HECM world. While some market participants have been successful in these recruitment efforts, the greater reverse mortgage industry faces a conundrum that it must overcome.

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“Lenders today won’t hire folks without experience, but you can’t earn experience until a lender hires you,” said Sharon Falvey, director of sales operations for Open Mortgage. “We are working on ideas on how to bridge that gap.”

For Open Mortgage, bringing new professionals into the reverse mortgage business is largely a two-fold strategy that relies on the expertise of the company’s internal management team as well as the growth of its wholesale operation.

The Austin, Texas-based Open Mortgage has been active in the reverse mortgage market since 2010, predominantly through its retail origination channel. In the 12-month period trailing March 2016, Open Mortgage reported 626 retail HECM endorsements and 82 wholesale units, according to recent industry data tracked by Reverse Market Insight.

While the company has operated a wholesale division, albeit on a relatively smaller scale than its retail channel, it now plans to ramp-up the wholesale side of its business more formally.

“It was important for us to launch our wholesale operation correctly,” Falvey told RMD. “We determined what our niche was and launched when we had the bandwidth to do it.”

This niche focuses on connecting with traditional mortgage professionals who want to diversify their product offerings, adding a reverse mortgage to their arsenal of services. Typically, these targeted pros are individuals who may have an interest in entering the reverse space, but don’t have a devoted team to support them.

That is where Open Mortgage’s staff comes into play. This year, the company added reverse industry veteran Cecilia Delgado to serve as an account executive. In her role with the Open, Delgado will be “leading the charge” for the company’s wholesale operations out of San Diego, Calif.

“We’d really like to focus on California first, add team members and expand,” Falvey said.

To strengthen its reverse mortgage sales team, Open Mortgage this week announced the hiring of Sue Haviland, a Certified Reverse Mortgage Professional and founder of Reverse Mortgage Success, a training and education project that assists loan officers who want to specialize in the HECM space.

Recently, Open Mortgage selected ReverseVision’s RV Exchange as the technology vehicle to “re-launch” its reverse mortgage wholesale operation. By doing so, the company aims to not only streamline efficiencies within its own personnel, but also views technology as a critical component to fostering greater collaboration with mortgage professionals both within and outside of one’s own organization.

“It is important to make the entire industry healthier than it is today,” Falvey said. “We have to continue using technology to put information out to the community so they can understand what a reverse mortgage truly is and what it was meant to be.”

Written by Jason Oliva

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