As the company eyes scalability and growth to address rising consumer demand, American Advisors Group (AAG) has made two key changes to its alternative distribution division for 2021. The company has hired William “Bill” Zielke as Vice President of National Field Sales for the East and Central U.S., and named Scott Harkless Vice President of Enterprise Partnerships. These changes are designed to drive sustainable and continuous growth, AAG’s leadership says.
Core to AAG’s strategy is a combined focus on new hires and new relationships. While Zielke focuses on recruitment to expand the field production team for AAG’s East and Central regions, Harkless will be forging new relationships and partnerships in an effort to bring key influencers and organizations into the reverse mortgage world.
Building a team from the ground up
For Zielke, who previously held executive roles at Bank of America in Originations, Fulfillment and Modifications, an immediate goal is executing on key initiatives to bolster the division and drive production. One of the priorities is growing out a mix of traditional loan officers, adding to their repertoire of tools through the reverse mortgage product so that they are better positioned to help a greater number of people achieve their financial goals.
“We are doing forward mortgages as well, and are looking to bring in loan officers who want to have a full range of products to help every senior, with every need,” Zielke explains. “Reverse mortgages are a key part of that. Those current forward mortgage loan officers are typically not included in our industry, and being able to integrate them, and leverage all the relationships that they have in their respective communities can really help us, and help more people with whatever their retirement needs are.”
AAG has one of the largest dedicated field teams in reverse mortgage today and is committed to making the investments necessary to support continued growth, which will further help spread the word about borrowers’ options in local markets. This is particularly important as product education remains a priority for the reverse mortgage industry at-large, and AAG specifically.
“If you look at the numbers, we’ve got the opportunity to grow the size of our sales force by ten times and still not reach every American,” Zielke explains. “So, that’s what we’re looking to do, but we need to do it with people that understand our mission of helping seniors retire better. Our new hires need to have that passion. So, that’s the mission we’re embarking on: to find the right people and materially grow our sales force.”
Forging meaningful partnerships
Bolstering operations in other areas plays an important role in the future growth of the reverse mortgage product category, and that’s where Harkless comes in. Where Zielke is tasked with finding the right people who have a passion for helping seniors achieve better retirement outcomes, Harkless is focused on finding the right kinds of business partners to help broaden the scope of that mission even further.
“From my standpoint, it’s more about partner relationships,” Harkless says. “To the extent that I can, I will help connect a variety of key influencers, affinity organizations and other people that have a shared interest in the senior demographic.”
Key to the success of many of the reverse mortgage industry’s top producers is the investment in the clients whom the industry helps serve. When locating enterprise partners to embark on that journey with AAG, finding companies that can hone in on another component of the passion for helping the senior population is central to the mission of forging a solid partnership, he says.
“Our partners will work with us in making sure that seniors’ lives can be better in retirement, and will aim to put them in the best position for retirement,” he says. “That is my goal. To create more relationships along that line where I can help them, and together we can serve more of this important demographic.”
Leveraging the brand for future growth
Zielke and Harkless will help AAG better leverage its brand identity and recognition among consumers to transform the understanding and availability of reverse mortgages. Adding proven leaders to that mission is essential for continued success, says Jesse Q. Allen, EVP of Alternative Distribution at AAG.
“We are relentlessly focused on leveraging our dominant brand and growing our platform to help more older homeowners better understand the challenges and opportunities they may be facing as they navigate retirement,” Allen says. “Scott and Bill are proven leaders, and their expertise, passion, and commitment are complementary additions to our phenomenal leadership team.”
This article is sponsored by AAG. To learn more about AAG and the many open jobs they have available, please visit the company’s website at www.aag.com/careers. NMLS: 9392