Following a major investment in consumer research aimed at discovering ways in which Americans are approaching their preparations for retirement, Finance of America Reverse (FAR) today announced a major rebranding initiative, aimed at more broadly introducing home equity access into the prospective plans of retirees.
“There are a few reasons why the timing is right for our rebrand,” FAR president Kristen Sieffert told RMD in an email. “First, 10,000 people turn 65 every day, and all of them can benefit from resources to plan for retirement. Second, senior home equity continues to climb and reached $6.9 trillion in Q2 2018 according to the NRMLA/RiskSpan Reverse Mortgage Market Index.”
Another reason for the change’s timeliness offered by Sieffert is that incoming retirees now have more options than ever before to leverage their homes as an asset in retirement. These reasons, she explains, would seem to indicate to some that most people eligible for a reverse mortgage would have one.
“But we know that’s not the case,” she said.
The changes to the brand identity will be implemented across several different verticals, including the company’s website and other digital presences as well as sales and advertising materials. The rebranding initiative also includes an internal addition of a “Borrower Engagement team,” the purpose of which is described in an official statement being “to align business practices with the organization’s refined purpose.”
One of the ways that FAR is implementing this change to its branding is through a partnership with Silvernest, the roommate matching and home sharing company aimed primarily at baby boomers. The partnership aims to jointly produce consumer events, digital and print publications, and optional discounted memberships to Silvernest’s matching services.
“An initial mailing to FAR borrowers has already generated nearly 20 roommate matches,” the announcement release noted.
FAR views home sharing as both a reverse mortgage alternative and a complement to it, Sieffert said.
“We see home sharing as both an alternative to a reverse mortgage and also a complement. […] We’re also seeing people who are not our customers but who are participating in home sharing benefit from information about other ways they can leverage their home to get the most out of retirement.”
The synergy hinges on the retirement experience, Sieffert added
“Beyond the fact that both FAR and Silvernest look at the home as central to the retirement experience, we are both committed to helping people thrive in retirement, whatever that looks like for them.”
Wendi Burkhardt, CEO of Silvernest, also sees the core aims of both businesses as complementary.
“We complement each other in that we have a shared goal of allowing aging reverse mortgage borrowers to stay in their homes,” she told RMD in an email. “Based on what we’ve already seen in our early partnership and test, this is a very appealing option and something people are embracing.”
FAR initiated qualitative and quantitative consumer and market research that helped lead to this change, which the company conducted throughout 2017. Sieffert specified that the qualitative research used more than 20 focus groups, while the quantitative research consisted of a national survey of “thousands of seniors and homeowners” balanced on key factors like age, gender and geography.
One of the biggest takeaways they gained from their research showed that over one million households would consider taking a reverse mortgage, a figure that outnumbers the current HECM-serviced market by 10 times.
Additionally, respondents felt they needed help to see the benefits of earlier planning, wanting lenders to “reframe the conversation” concerning long-term value of the reverse mortgage offering. Stemming from that, conversations surrounding retirement planning, they discovered, are also often put off or simply never explored.
“We know from our research that planning for retirement is overwhelming for many,” Sieffert said, “so we saw an opportunity to help people ‘get to work’ as our new tagline suggests and take that first step.”
Written by Chris Clow