Finance of America Reverse (FAR) announced earlier this week the development of a new reverse mortgage education platform, which is designed to equip the company’s wholesale partners with a wide selection of relevant, customizable educational resources and materials that can expand product knowledge and provide better potential service to clients.
The new platform, dubbed “Finance of America University” (FAU), launches alongside additional new offerings including the introduction of an enhanced “Policies and Procedures” (P&P) Documents Center on its “Xcelerate” Wholesale Portal.
To determine how the program was conceived and what it will take for implementation and success, RMD sat down with Lorraine Geraci, VP of learning and development at FAR to discuss how FAU is designed to impact the educational practices of a major reverse mortgage lender.
A choice-led educational approach catered to professionals
One of the core components which helps define the FAU approach in comparison with previous efforts led by FAR is the amount of choice that prospective students will have in absorbing the material, Geraci explains.
“The audience is predominantly sales and operations professionals. Individuals can pick and choose classes that they need at that moment to enhance their reverse knowledge, or they can also enroll in one or more learning pathways,” she says. “For example, the ‘New to Reverse Fast Track’ consists of 10 full online classes to give a new professional a high-level overview and introduction to reverse sales.”
Additional pathways provide more educational material about specific reverse-centric topics including the use of loan origination systems (LOS) which are designed for reverse; guidelines for reverse mortgages including the financial assessment; and general information about a reverse mortgage loan process which may normally present a bit of a learning curve for people who are new to the business. FAU is not just reserved for reverse mortgage neophytes, however.
“We also have advanced pathways for our more experienced partners that cover all the products FAR has to offer, including EquityAvail and our HomeSafe suite,” she says, referring to the company’s traditional proprietary reverse mortgage and its new hybrid forward-reverse product. “We will continue to add to these pathways and the different classes available based on the needs of our partners and our sales team.”
What makes FAU different from prior educational efforts
In terms of how FAU sets itself apart from the other educational efforts spearheaded by FAR in the past, the addition of updates for every subject as well as the employment of more engaging mediums such as video emphasizes that the company is making a concerted effort to meet people where they are in terms of how they prefer to learn new information, Geraci says.
“Our new learning management system FAU includes updates of all training resources and provides more structured learning pathways, reporting and testing,” she explains. “It also has new, engaging videos for quick module learning. With our new enhancements, wholesale partners may request specific pathways for their teams and can ensure team members complete the pathways prior to selling reverse mortgages.”
This effort in particular is designed to increase the working knowledge of professionals about a wider variety of reverse mortgage-relevant facts, which in turn will hopefully translate into higher levels of customer satisfaction, she says. Beyond that, previous educational efforts undertaken by FAR have also contributed to the way FAU has been designed, Geraci says.
“The Learning & Development team has worked very hard over the last 9 years to create a library of educational resources for sales professionals and operations professionals. All of the resources were created by instructors who all have been in the reverse industry for many years,” she says. “We started with one reverse sales professional who created training from scratch. Since then, we have added dedicated sales trainers, coaches and operations trainers who are constantly revising, updating and creating new educational materials for the needs of our employees and partners.”
This also extends to the hiring of professional instructional designers who aim to make the content as engaging as possible, as well as a dedicated learning systems administrator responsible for maintaining different elements of FAU as a whole.
“The learning and development team has come together to create a perfect storm of informative, engaging, and educational materials to help support our employees, partners and the industry at large,” Geraci says.
How FAU was developed, and how FAR defines its success
FAU is the product of significant time and effort on the part of Geraci’s team, and every class that is a part of the curriculum had to be developed in-house, she says. The choice that was previously alluded to encompasses more traditional, passive experiences like PowerPoint presentations which can be reviewed at a student’s leisure, or video content for someone who might require more engaging material to learn from, she says. After that, each class had to be identified for its best learning pathway in order to be properly implemented.
“The new enhancements are the result of wanting to support our partners and our internal sales teams,” Geraci explains. “We were receiving requests for structured learning approaches from some of our partners based on their respective needs. We also wanted to cater to the needs of our internal sales teams. Now we have an easy-to-use online education experience for busy professionals with built-in tracking, measurement, and reporting tools.”
Beyond receiving direct feedback from those who use FAU, FAR will closely monitor the success of the program through responses gleaned from surveys built into the courses. There are also “customizable reporting capabilities,” Geraci says, which will allow for companies and/or partners to track and monitor the progress of their loan officers.
“Exams and quizzes are built into specific courses and in some cases, a student cannot advance to the next section without passing a knowledge check/quiz,” she says. “We’ll continue to collect feedback from our partners and employees to gauge the success of FAU and will make adjustments to the course offerings and other FAU features as needed.”
CRMP courses, providing accountability
As is the case with several of its reverse mortgage industry peers, FAR makes available courses which can be completed for credit to earn the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association (NRMLA)’s special designation of Certified Reverse Mortgage Professional (CRMP). Incorporating that material into FAU is only logical, Geraci says.
“We have collaborated with NRMLA for years on different educational content and appreciate NRMLA including some of our important classes as part of the CRMP program,” she says. “So far, we have 11 classes that we offer via live instruction as well as online via FAU. With our virtual training modules, we are able to confirm individuals reviewed the online CRMP classes and provide attendance details to NRMLA to help them with their designation. This provides more opportunities for professionals to receive the CRMP designation.”
On top of all of this, FAR specifically said in its announcement of the new program that FAU will help to ensure that there is accountability in the learning process for reverse mortgage professionals. When asked to expound on that, Geraci brought up topics that many reverse mortgage professionals are likely quite familiar with in terms of the larger industry’s reputational difficulties.
“As many people in the reverse industry know, it is important to recognize the uniqueness of reverse mortgages and how different the reverse mortgage process is from conventional, forward lending,” she says. “When more professionals are educated about the specifics of reverse mortgages and how their clients could benefit from the different products, it helps the entire industry. We want to ensure that professionals are well-versed in product knowledge, ethics, and process to ensure they represent our industry well. FAR is committed to providing compliant, approved education resources for employees and approved wholesale partners through a variety of engaging platforms.”