The reverse mortgage industry is planning once again to convene for the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association (NRMLA) Annual Meeting & Expo, an industry gathering designed to offer reverse mortgage professionals an opportunity to both prepare for the coming year of business and assess the prior year’s performance.
As with so many aspects of life, though, the industry mainstay event has had to adjust its plans because of the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, shifting the event — which was originally planned to take place in the nation’s capital — to an online-only format through the popular video conferencing service Zoom. That shift to a digital format was certainly disruptive, but has not diminished the ambition or scale of what the event will aim to provide for the industry according to Steve Irwin, president of NRMLA.
“We had to understand the circumstances,” Irwin told RMD in an interview. “We had been planning to host this event in Washington D.C. here this November, the same date that we’re going virtual. But we have been monitoring and watching the [Washington D.C. Mayor] Muriel Bowser’s Coronavirus Task Force. It became very obvious and evident to us that a face-to-face meeting was not going to be able to happen in November here in Washington. We did briefly consider going elsewhere, and I’m just thankful that we did not make that decision given the current surge in COVID cases.”
Soon after NRMLA’s virtual summer meeting, the association began planning to turn the annual meeting into a virtual event, made easier by the fact that many industry participants had previously familiarized themselves with Zoom, the ubiquitous online meeting platform which rose to much greater prominence during the pandemic.
“And, here we go,” Irwin says, “We’ve got a great event lined up. We’ve got over 500 registrants from 42 different states, and 166 different companies. So, it’s showtime.”
The event will also take place during a moment of change. A part of its program had previously been slotted to discuss the ramifications of the 2020 general election on the reverse mortgage industry, but now that the presidential race has been called by a majority of organizations for Former Vice President Joe Biden, industry professionals will be able to zero in on ways in which the incoming administration could potentially affect some elements of the government relevant to the reverse mortgage industry, Irwin says.
“We do have a session where we’re speaking to this topic directly,” Irwin explains. “On Tuesday, we’ve got Scott Norman from Finance of America Reverse and our outside legislative team speaking to the election and the outcome. Not only will we be looking to speak to the executive branch transition, and what the association may or may not be looking to do in terms of educating the transition team on aging in place and the responsible use of home equity to help finance retirement, but there’s also a changing dynamic in the Senate and in the House.”
Those changes will have the potential to impact industry efforts and priorities in 2021, Irwin says.
In terms of what else the industry can look forward to, Irwin says the programming schedule for the digital event has been tailored to offer a wide range of perspectives, including an update on the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) program from key staff at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), a new research presentation from Dr. Stephanie Moulton of Ohio State University, sessions on sales and connecting with potential borrowers through social media and a panel specifically dedicated to converting leads.
“It’s a strong program, and a program that offers insights into what we need to be working on and focused on in the coming year,” Irwin explains.
All in all, NRMLA is positioning this year’s Annual Meeting and Expo for success regardless of the unique circumstances which have affected businesses globally this year due to the pandemic.
“We continue to work to deliver quality programming and content for our attendees, whether it’s in-person or virtually,” Irwin explains. “We think that there’s tremendous value to be realized and gained by our attendees. And I also want to thank and acknowledge that we can’t do it without the tremendous support of our sponsors.”
The NRMLA 2020 Virtual Annual Meeting & Expo will take place between November 10-12. RMD will be in virtual “attendance.”