American Advisors Group may have turned into the reverse mortgage volume leader through its television spokesmen and call-center-first model, but the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage giant is currently in the process of upgrading its ground game.
Jesse Allen, the Orange, Calif.-based firm’s senior vice president of field sales, joined the company last year with the goal of helping to expand AAG’s face-to-face marketing and origination efforts.
Though AAG declined to mention firm numbers, Allen says he expected to see “substantial” growth in the size of its field-representative team, which currently has about 90 salespeople and accounts for five to 10 percent of the company’s total loan originations, in the near future.
Allen and executive vice president of retail lending Paul Fiore say that certain customers simply prefer the in-person approach, with Fiore noting that some borrowers make initial contact with AAG through the call center, then ask to meet with a sales representative — or vice versa.
The new effort marks the latest milestone in AAG’s push to bolster its presence in the field, a few years after it acquired Reverse Mortgage USA and Associated Mortgage Bankers’ reverse-mortgage division in an attempt to enter the space.
Allen also pointed out that the field team is a useful tool to establish relationships with the kinds of people who become consistent sources of leads, including real-estate agents and financial advisors. Fiore also says that AAG plans to use its expanded field team to educate that same group of people on HECM for purchase transactions, which Fiore says remain relatively under-utilized due to a lack of understanding among key referrers.*
“I do not see in the future that there’s not going to be a face-to-face component,” Fiore says.
Despite the plan for growth, Allen and Fiore emphasized the importance of establishing consistent training and practices for their field services team. One major benefit of the call-center model, Fiore said, is that AAG can carefully control the messages that its representatives send to current and potential borrowers to ensure that they’re complying with regulations and the company’s policies. Since there’s more potential for entropy with a team of field representatives, and less ability to monitor a consistent message, AAG said it’s taking a gradual, deliberate approach to expanding the team.
Written by Alex Spanko
Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story stated that AAG was exploring the potential adoption of certain electronic tools for originating reverse mortgages; Jesse Allen in fact was discussing potential changes for the industry as a whole, and not particular AAG initiatives. RMD regrets the mischaracterization.