Industry Meeting Signals ‘Exciting’ Time for Reverse Mortgages

The National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association (NRMLA) is encouraged after a productive Annual Meeting last month in Nashville, Tenn., owing to a well-received programming schedule and enthusiasm among attendees for the event’s venue city. This is according to NRMLA’s recently-promoted President, Steve Irwin, in an interview with RMD.

“Overall, the response to our recent annual meeting and expo down in Nashville has been overwhelmingly positive,” Irwin told RMD. “The general sense has been very positive. Nashville proved to be a wonderful destination for our attendees, I think a good time was had by all and the programming feedback has also been very, very good.”

With a programming schedule aimed at providing reverse mortgage loan officers with information they can take out into their daily course of work, the tenor of the schedule over the course of the event was was well-received, Irwin said.


“We had a lot of sessions devoted to providing strong content for loan officers who are out on the street,” Irwin said. “We also were able to provide a lot of good information sessions regarding building relationships with affiliates. I don’t know if you saw the ‘reframing the approach to financial professionals’ session, that was very well received. So, it’s been positive and we’re now decompressing and digesting.”

At the end of the day, the goal of the NRMLA Annual Meeting is to provide opportunities for people at all levels of the reverse mortgage industry to learn something that can then be taken to their individual businesses, and hopefully have a little fun along the way, Irwin said.

“We want our attendees to walk away with a sense that they learned something,” he said. “We want to be able to help the attendees elevate their game and be able to do their jobs better, and I hope that the attendees walked away with that sense. At the same time, this is the largest gathering of reverse mortgage professionals. The networking opportunities, the opportunities to share experiences and share learnings with each other in a setting like this is very important for our attendees, and I hope that was a success. This is also an industry where each and every participant works really, really hard day in and day out. So, we hope that there was a chance to blow off a little steam, too.”

Echoing Irwin’s sentiments is Scott Norman, VP field retail and director of government relations at Finance of America Reverse (FAR) and NRMLA co-chair, who feels strongly about the recent meeting and what it means for the industry.

“I thought it was the most energized and informative annual meeting I’ve attended in ten years,” Norman tells RMD in an email. “While there are multiple signs that volume is up across the country, there is no question that the overall trajectory of the industry is heading in the right direction. These are incredibly exciting times to be in the reverse mortgage space.”

The event could not be possible without the support of those who both participated in the programming schedule, along with the association and event sponsors, Irwin adds.

“I really want to thank all the panelists and moderators,” Irwin says. “If we put together a strong program, it can’t be done without the support and participation of our moderators and panelists, and they put in a huge amount of time. We’re just very, very grateful for all that effort. I also want to call out all of our sponsors, as it’s a heavy lift in these times, but we can’t put together a quality program without the support of our exhibitors and sponsors. So we’re also very grateful for them.”

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  • First, I would like to thank Chris for making clear the position each commenter held in NRMLA. It is also good to read what the general content was and its purpose. The venue is nice particularly for those who love its music. It sounded like a great mood and outlook at the convention but as usual less of a realistic one

    Yet the response sounds a lot like the Convention in 2010 after the greatest fiscal year loss in HECM endorsements (when compared to the immediately prior fiscal year) for any fiscal year in the now 30 plus year existence of HECMs. The 2019 Convention will be known for fiscal year 2019, the fiscal year with the greatest percentage loss in HECM endorsement production.

    It is very understandable why our industry would appreciate some time where industry members could gather and try to draw out support from and for one another. Yet with a 35.3% drop in HECM endorsement production, it is hard to believe that penetration into the financial advising community was actually all that great in fiscal 2019. Simply talking about successful meetings with financial advisors may feel good, it is hardly the stuff to write home about.

    If there is a rise in volume, where is it? Yes, HECM Case Number Assignments substantially rose in the three months months ended October 31, 2019. Yet most of that growth is found in the increase in HECM refis, making them once again a better target in the HECM reform and restructuring movement in Congress and at HUD.

    How are proprietary reverse mortgages really doing? Other than anecdotal statements, it is not very clear. Of course, even my own opinion is based on experiential discounting based solely off of similar claims in 2007 when there was a far more thriving proprietary reverse mortgage market led by names like the Fannie Mae Home Keeper, the Financial Freedom Cash Account, the Bank of America’s The Independence Plan or TIP and about nine others. If this industry is ever to be taken at face value when it is obviously so overly optimistic in its outlook, far more transparency is needed. In the last ten years I have received complaint after complaint about my low expectations for reverse mortgage volume. Yet only in one year was my estimate too low but even then it was less than 4% too low. I have had one year where I allowed optimism to interfere with my judgement so my estimate was about 10% above the actual endorsement count at fiscal year end.

    The data on the current “success” of proprietary reverse mortgages is translucent, not nearly transparent.

    As to size just how large was attendance? While attendance has little to do with how enjoyable the convention may have been, it speaks much for the health of the industry.

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