This Lender Sees Growing Financial Planner Interest in Reverse Mortgages

Educating financial advisers about the merits and effectiveness of reverse mortgages in retirement income planning has been a hot topic among industry members looking to boost their referral channels. But while there are various ways to educate planners and advisers, one reverse lender has been seeing a growing interest in hosting webinars tailored for these professionals.

Reverse mortgage misconceptions still abound, both among the general public as well as within the financial planning community. But rather than expound on the technical details of reverse mortgages and their place in retirement planning, non-industry professionals are better served if the material is tangible and relatable to their businesses.

“We have to translate beyond the technical features of reverse mortgages and help financial advisers understand how and when this product could work for their clients,” said Tom Dickson, national leader of the financial advisor channel at Reverse Mortgage Funding (RMF).


Appointed to this role earlier this summer, Dickson’s credentials include eight years of “trying to evangelize” the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) product in efforts to make believers out of financial advisers and other stakeholders focused on retirement planning.

With RMF, Dickson is responsible for furthering his efforts to educate the financial planning community about reverse mortgages and building relationships with these professionals at the enterprise level. This involves supporting company loan officers and educating the financial advisers working in their local communities.

One way Dickson accomplishes this is through the Retirement Experts Network, an online educational platform that hosts a series of webinars designed to help financial services professionals learn more about important retirement issues, home equity and reverse mortgages included.

The webinars focus on several key reverse mortgage topics, including the various functions of the reverse mortgage line of credit and how it can be used to mitigate market volatility and reduce sequence of returns risk, while also providing opportunities for refinancing and right-sizing in retirement.

“Usually, if you can cover those issues with a planner, they are going to identify clients that could benefit from one of those four uses,” Dickson said.

Sessions also discuss the value of FHA insurance, in terms of the features and protections it provides—an area of importance not often considered in education efforts tailored for the financial planning community. This can be important when discussing that monthly payments from a HECM continue even if they exceed the home’s value over time, or if the home declines in value, that is, granted that the loan holder continues to uphold their borrowing responsibilities.

“I’m not sure that many financial advisers are aware of that side of [FHA’s] insurance fund,” Dickson said. “When you communicate that to financial professionals, that’s a big plus.”

The latest webinar hosted by Retirement Experts Network this past week explored tax strategies for retirees. Featuring a presentation from Robert Keebler, CPA, the session provided advice on how retirees can optimize results by minimizing taxes with tax bracket management strategies. The session also included a presentation from Dickson on how tax-free funds from a HECM can help clients reduce taxable withdrawals from IRAs.

Given that the reverse mortgage section served as just one component to the overall presentation—consuming only about five minutes—Dickson noted that the response from attendees was 50% higher than the average compared to previous webinars.

“It’s interesting that in five minutes we can generate a reasonable amount of interest,” Dickson said.

When gauging the level of interest among webinar attendees, Dickson said Retirement Experts Network tracks how many participants request an education call on reverse mortgages following the session.

“In this particular call, the indication of interest was certainly above the norms at a fairly significant level, with one out of every two advisers surveyed asked to be contacted by an RMF representative,” he said.

Dickson attributed the response in part to the renown of the financial experts co-hosting the call. “It’s their brand that can help. Bob Keebler has a national brand in the financial planning community. We get a lift from that.”

Dickson noted that he sees similar increase in attention on reverse mortgage webinars when they feature other widely recognized financial planning experts, too, such as Harold Evensky and John Salter—both of whom have extensively researched the use of reverse mortgages as part of a retirement income planning strategy.

It’s with the help of these experts that reverse mortgage education is able to flourish and reach a wider financial planning audience

“It [interest] continues to grow, there’s no question about it,” Dickson said. “I think we’re covering more bases collectively with more industry players who are putting financial and people resources behind this.”

Written by Jason Oliva

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  • Currently RMF is sixth in the industry as to endorsement volume through July 31, 2016 on a year to day calendar and fiscal year bases; yet its endorsement volume is only 5% of the total. So while it is a Top Ten lender, at 5% of the market, it is a significant, although minor, voice in the industry.

    The RMF focus and approach to the financial planning community is commendable but like most lenders, the largest segment practice being addressed is not financial planning but rather asset management by revenue (even though many claim to practice in this area, few do it with any license to do so or without any recognized certification such as that of the CFP. Most claimed financial planners hold licenses in insurance and FINRA recognized security registrations.

    As we have been advised before, if our industry is depending on the financial planning community for substantial growth, it is in for a long wait. With considerable support since 2012, our industry is still looking for any substantial growth in endorsement volume from referrals from asset managers, security and insurance salespeople, or Realtors.

    No one expects overnight growth but four years of concentrated efforts should have been rewarded with substantial endorsement growth. In less than a week we will have most likely received all of the applications with case numbers assigned that will turn into endorsements before calendar year end.

    To the great dismay of many, uncertainty once again remains as to whether we have reached the bottom for fiscal year (and even calendar year) endorsement totals since fiscal 2005. If HUD implements its recent changes as proposed before July 1, 2018, we may yet see endorsement totals challenging those of fiscal 2004 in fiscal 2018 (or even fiscal 2017).

    While there is absolutely nothing wrong about reaching out to asset managers, insurance and securities salespeople, and Realtors, growth through referrals is slow and full of pits.

    Where we have seen any glimmer of success in endorsement growth over the last few months has been from the media advertising efforts of AAG. Even HECMs for Purchase look like endorsements are headed for a slight downturn this fiscal year but more about that later.

  • This is a good article by Jason. Tom Dickson has the right idea and seems to be taking RMF in the right direction.

    The financial planner/advisory roll integrated in the reverse mortgage space is becoming more of a reality. With all that is pending with the DOL, our future with the financial planner and advisor could be a bright one!

    However, all of us still need to remember, in order for us to be effective with these financial planners and advisors, we must understand their world.

    It is so important that we approach them, we approach them with two main goals in mind! Get help from them to educate us on their world and then educate them about our world, in that order! If we do this, we will establish a long term business relationship with them where everyone will benefit, especially our seniors!!

    John A. Smaldone

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