For the reverse mortgage industry, opening the lines of communication between financial advisors and other senior service professionals can raise awareness of the importance of home equity in retirement planning. With the aid of several reverse mortgage originators, one top-10 industry lender took its educational efforts straight to the nation’s capital.
Assembling a diverse group of Home Equity Retirement Originators, San Diego-based Retirement Funding Solutions (RFS) made the trip to Washington, D.C. last week to participate in the NAIFA Congressional Conference.
“We find ourselves at a crossroads,” said Chris Kargacos, senior vice president and national sales leader at RFS. “Our industry is changing for the better. As the market changes, one thing is still constant: there is a huge misconception about the reverse mortgage industry and how we help people.”
NAIFA, which is an acronym for the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, represents licensed life insurance agents and financial advisors through its federation of more than 900 state and local associations throughout the United States.
The organization’s Congressional Conference provides NAIFA members with a platform to communicate their expertise and concerns to their elected officials. The event also serves as an opportunity for members to build new relationships and strengthen existing connections with these lawmakers, in efforts to establish a basic level of education among all members of Congress about the value of financial products and services critical to retired Americans.
For RFS, which is active with NAIFA in several markets, including California, Colorado and Florida, attending the Congressional Conference was an opportunity to create new relationships in the markets the company represents. The partnership between the two organizations began about 2-3 years ago.
An overarching objective of NAIFA members is to promote financial literacy to their clients, largely middle America—a demographic that, as a result of more stringent underwriting requirements and other program changes in recent years, has become a prime candidate to use a reverse mortgage as a retirement planning tool.
“The reality is we are facing a retirement crisis as a nation,” Kargacos said. “When looking at the new customer profile, home equity can be a viable solution to help people achieve the retirement they deserve.”
NAIFA’s commitment to retirement security for Middle America aligns with research published by members of the Funding Longevity Task Force on the key role home equity can play when incorporated into a coordinated retirement income plan.
“It is encouraging to see the reverse mortgage align with a group that serves 75 million American families,” said Shelley Giordano, chair of the Funding Longevity Task Force. “This outreach cannot help but to dispel rampant misinformation and lack of attention to home equity, that is, sadly, the norm for retirement planning in our country.”
Home equity continues to gain status as an alternative asset in retirement planning, particularly for the middle segment of retirees who have the household wealth that could be used strategically to preserve other investments. A lack of education, however, continues to be a challenge in raising awareness of home equity and the strategic use of reverse mortgages in retirement, not only for retirees but their trusted advisors and other professionals as well.
“We, as an industry, need to become more involved with educating our policymakers on the real impact that this program can have on our borrowers and the nation’s retirees,” Kargacos said.
Written by Jason Oliva