Christina Harmes Hika has been busy since starting a business last summer that focuses on coaching professionals to take on reverse mortgage business. Not only has she hired more staff to help meet demand, but she’s also worked to create software to assist loan originators with filling out key information and organized a hybrid virtual and in-person event.
We sat down with Harmes Hika to get an update on how business is progressing, what the software will achieve and more.
Demand for reverse mortgage coaching
Harmes Hika says it has served more than 200 clients since it was established last year. Demand has also led to the addition of a higher-level course on top of the more basic offering she started with.
“Finding your ‘why’ and communicating that effectively are some of the most important things,” she said. “Understanding [Life Expectancy Set Asides (LESAs)], and understanding all the different ways to go about presenting a file to a lender. Even the reverse mortgage landscape [is important to understand], since there are lots of different products out there.”
Courses are also being developed to assist loan officers with instructing referral partners about the nuances of reverse mortgages, including elements catered toward educating financial planners and licensed real estate agents.
Social media marketing is another component, with the goal of teaching clients ways to publish useful reverse borrower information to social platforms.
There is also coaching for the more emotional nature of reverse mortgage transactions, she explained.
“There are really nuanced ways that we’re teaching people to overcome their fears, and how to handle the objections or how to handle the emotional side of things,” she said. “Because a lot of our sales process is an emotional sale, where we’re really being there for our clients in a way that I never experienced on the forward side.”
Harmes Hika said that at the outset of the business, she was fairly conservative in her estimates regarding demand. But the demand has been consistent, leading to the creation of a hybrid event for both in-person and virtual attendees.
Thus far, the business has had 10 private coaching clients. While Harmes Hika was the only coach initially, she has since expanded to a team of four people. Clients are distributed across the states that generally have the highest shares of business: California, Texas, Florida, Arizona and Colorado.
“It’s been a really good ride so far,” she said.
Event and software rollout
The event will take place on the evening of Monday, June 5 at the Sonesta Irvine, one day prior to the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association holding its Western Regional Meeting at the same venue.
In terms of why this was the right time for the event, Harmes Hika said it grew from the desire for coaching clients to fully engage with the material in a way that other formats may not allow for.
“I’m happy sitting at home coaching,” she said. “But we were asked enough times to have something in person where coaching clients could really immerse themselves, and so that’s where we’re at.”
Attendees, whether in-person or virtual, can try the software, called “HECM Hero,” out during the event, she said.
“We put a lot of the important parameters so that it’s kind of like a TurboTax, where the LO sends their client a link, and the client answers their questions,” she explained. “Based on some parameters we’re setting as companies, originators or software developers, the software interprets their information so they can actually see some illustrations and play with their numbers themselves.”
When someone runs a larger division and it’s not clear how to price or structure a loan, the software is designed to feature information to make that process easier. However, the software is only designed to help with the sales process and is not a loan origination system (LOS). It creates graphic representations of reverse mortgage loans that should assist with the sales process, Harmes Hika said.
“In the forward space, loan officers are used to clicking a button, and they send an email to their client,” she said. “That client answers all the application questions and uploads all the documents, and the loan officer doesn’t have to really do a whole lot. In reverse, we haven’t had something like that. This is that tool.”
Harmes Hika hopes the new software platform will be a useful tool for both the new and seasoned industry professionals. Industry participants interested in the event can find more information on the business’ website.