NRMLA Eastern Conference to Focus on Women, Industry Change

This year’s National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association Eastern Regional Meeting and Expo will focus on the winds of change swirling around the reverse mortgage industry, from regulatory uncertainty to a growing focus on women as potential borrowers.

The event, which kicks off at the Intercontinental New York Times Square Hotel on April 3 and runs through the following day, will feature a range of speakers, including representatives from the Federal Housing Administration, American College of Financial Services professor Jamie Hopkins, and NRMLA outside counsel Jim Milano.

Steve Irwin, the Washington, D.C.-based trade group’s executive vice president, said the event is intended to help industry players navigate the changes coursing through the space in 2017, such as the growing use of Home Equity Conversion Mortgages in retirement planning and the forthcoming implementation of the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s final rule, which is slated to take effect in September.

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“I think that fundamentally, there are new approaches that people are exploring, strategies and opportunities, and new threats out in the marketplace as we work to expand the reverse mortgage market space,” Irwin said in an interview with RMD. “We also think that there are different approaches to selling and marketing the reverse mortgage, and different planning tools and different understandings about the aging demographics in [different] states.”

In addition to panels on the details of the HECM final rule — whose eventual fate remains unclear amid the Trump administration’s general plans to halt or slow the implementation of new regulations — the event will also host speakers from the Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement (WISER). Jenny Werwa, NRMLA’s director of public relations, said she was inspired to have NRMLA probe the topic of women and reverse mortgages more fully after seeing some of WISER’s leaders speak at a recent event.

“I started thinking a lot and learning a lot more about the ways that women are uniquely disadvantaged to being financially insecure in retirement,” Werwa said. “I think this a very interesting topic to explore.”

Werwa noted that reverse mortgages could be a potential solution for divorced women who have received a house in the divorce settlement but have lost their spouse’s Social Security benefits and other assets.

“It fits in very nicely with our them about reverse mortgages in a time of change,” Werwa said. “Women reaching retirement age are undergoing change, paying for caregiving and thinking about the different financial resources that [they] will have for that.”

Attendees can sign up for the conference at NRMLA’s website. The event starts at 9 a.m. on Monday, April 3 and concludes at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, April 4.

Written by Alex Spanko

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  • With lone women borrowers already originating 37.6% of all HECMs so far this fiscal year and the average borrower so far this fiscal year coming in at around 74 years old, the picture returns to the days of yesteryear when we were cowering over the image of the greedy lender selling granny as a widow something she does not understand. Lone men borrowers only compose 21.2% of all HECMs originated so far this fiscal year. Although there is 0.8% of borrowers to be classified, the remaining borrowers fit into the multiple borrower category.

    While it is great we are focusing on the unique needs of the single woman, the question lingering in the background from our senior advocates will be, is the industry targeting single granny because she is an easier target? Do not dismiss this attack. It has come before and will arise again if we are so blatantly focused on this one group.

    Such attacks were not uncommon in the past. We may not see it now but could see it in the future if lone women borrowers have disproportionate problems maintaining their HECMs. This theme is not new and prior response says we should be very careful on our appeal and targeting.

    One conference focused on the subject every five years or more may be OK but more frequent promotion could prove harmful.

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