American Advisors Group CEO Reza Jahangiri has the key to a comfortable retirement for the nation’s rapidly aging population, but no one’s listening — at least according to an upbeat profile in an upcoming edition of Forbes magazine.
Posted early online, the Forbes piece tracks Jahangiri and AAG’s improbable rise to the top of the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage industry, from the $750,000 personal loan he gave the company in 2007 to its most recent ad campaign starring actor Tom Selleck.
In the process, Forbes writer Lauren Gensler explains the more recent thinking on reverse mortgages, quoting MIT professor Robert Merton and noted HECM proponent Wade Pfau while tracking the reverse mortgage’s evolution from industry black sheep to novel retirement funding idea.
But Gensler also focuses on the challenges that even an industry leader like AAG faces when trying to convince seniors that home equity could be a smart solution for their retirement issues. While 500,000 people called the Orange, Calif.-based lender’s 800 number in 2016, only about 9,000 of those actually went through with receiving a HECM, Forbes reported, with large chunks of seniors either failing to qualify or balking at the high closing costs.
“We’re trying to give people financial stability through an underutilized asset,” Jahangiri told Forbes. “But it’s an uphill battle, and there’s still a perception issue.”
Still, Gensler generally offers a positive view of AAG and the HECM program in general, explaining common methods of using a reverse mortgage to a retiree’s advantage, such as taking out a HECM line of credit early and allowing it to grow, or using reverse mortgage proceeds to delay receiving Social Security benefits until they reach higher amounts.
“Reverse mortgages are no longer a last resort for desperate homeowner,” Gensler writes. “Future growth depends on whether the middle class is ready to use their home equity to finance retirement.”
Read the full profile at Forbes.
Written by Alex Spanko