The Fairway Independent Mortgage Corp. reverse mortgage division is preparing for a transformative 2023, thanks to a new leadership model and team that aims to put their stamp on the company’s reverse mortgage business.
RMD recently sat down with the company’s leadership team to learn how the new leadership model will work and what the division’s goals are going forward. The team also spoke to us about the importance of training and education for borrowers and professionals, along with insight into the team’s efforts to normalize reverse mortgages across Fairway’s national footprint.
The importance of training
Craig Barnes, a longtime industry educator and trainer who has served on the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association (NRMLA) is now Fairway’s VP of reverse education and training. When asked about how important training will be, Evans said the goal is to create customized training and educational materials.
“If someone wants to learn about the [reverse mortgage] product and refer loans to another originator, we’ll have a training path for them,” Evans said. “If they want to stick around and get a little more educated about the product and who they can approach, we can then support them with our centralized support division and have a production partner working with them. We’ll also have the sales support representative handle their documents.”
For those who want to learn more about the reverse mortgage business mechanics, Evans said there’s a “201-level” training class that includes information on using the company’s loan origination system (LOS) and creating documents.
“And then eventually you grow into this space where you’re getting mentored by the top producers, and then eventually you become one of those top producers and create your own Fairway reverse mortgage franchise,” Evans said. “Then [can have the tools to] you grow in your region.”
Mike Daryanani, EVP of reverse sales support at Fairway, said it feels like there is increased excitement about reverse mortgages at Fairway and Barnes will be instrumental in helping the company’s loan officers to either collaborate with reverse-specific loan originators or to become one.
“We’re going to get loan officers trained, and then they’re going to work with the sales team to give them production partners to not necessarily hold their hand, but guide them through the process and help make them better,” Daryanani said. “So, not only are we going to have that upfront training when you have a production partner, it’s ongoing training.”
Training will include mentorship between seasoned reverse mortgage professionals and those new to the industry, he said.
Normalizing reverse mortgages
Fairway’s EVP of Reverse Marketing and Technology, Tom Evans, said one of the biggest objectives is to standardize the reverse mortgage product throughout the Fairway organization.
“I think we’ve spent decades preserving our little unique space that reverse exists in,” Evans said. “And then, we complain that people don’t know what it is or don’t trust it. The first way to normalize it is to make the originator experience closer to what they’re used to on the traditional side. So, if someone knows that [they need to go through] five steps to do a traditional refi or a purchase loan, let’s get as tight to those five steps as we can so that for the originators, they don’t feel the difference anymore.”
If originators feel disconnected from the process or product, then it could trickle down to borrowers, Evans said.
“I think we’ve trained about 1,500 LOs at Fairway, and there’s still some sense of them being worried about working in reverse,” he said. “We have to normalize it for the LOs. If a former loan officer can engage with reverse the same way they engage with forward, with as few differences as possible, it’s going to help them feel like they could sell it more easily across the network.”
Fairway is also looking to leverage as many novelties as it can in the reverse mortgage space — including within the product types.
Variety and technology as the path forward
When Reverse Division President Tane Cabe was hired at Fairway last year, he started as a business development specialist for HECM for Purchase (H4P) loans. When asked if H4P would continue to be a staple going forward, Cabe said that Fairway’s historical H4P leadership provides an opportunity.
“Most definitely, [H4P] will be a major component,” Cabe said. “That was my original hire, to be the H4P business development manager here, which is an area that I focused on when I was originating. But there is lots and lots of opportunity out there, especially in this current market for H4P. It’ll continue to be a major focus of ours.”
Evans also noted that there is room to incorporate more digital elements into the reverse mortgage origination process.
“Every day something changes in my head about technology or about ease of use for the consumer,” he says. “How is it 2023 and there still is very little access for a consumer to get into the reverse mortgage process digitally? Would any forward mortgage company exist if they didn’t have a digital application process? No. And now, we can start to make that happen, because we have the knowledge base in terms of how it works well on the forward side invested in what we’re trying to do on the reverse side.”