The only true constant in the world is change, and that is equally true for the reverse mortgage industry.
The reverse industry is often defined by factors related to evolving business needs, changing political headwinds, and the same macroeconomic factors that shape the forward mortgage business. In turn, it can be tricky for the reverse mortgage business to remain a reliable source of financial stability for seniors while staying flexible enough to adapt to changes.
That’s why the reverse mortgage industry needs visionaries: people who can adapt to external change while innovating to try and remain ahead of the curve as new challenges and opportunities arise. These people are Changemakers.
After careful consideration, RMD has three chosen additions to the third annual class of Changemakers for 2022. These people, who have helped to shift the landscape of the reverse mortgage industry, are presented alphabetically by last name.
Dan Hultquist: Reverse mortgage author, sales trainer at Fairway Independent Mortgage Corp.
Education is a continuous challenge for the reverse mortgage business. There has long been an issue with misconceptions related to reverse mortgages, and the issues have been compounded by a lack of accessible, accurate information — especially when it comes to the FHA-backed Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) program. These hurdles have likely played a large role in the low uptake of reverse mortgage loans across the nation.
The solution is to provide accurate, expert-driven information, which is what industry educator Dan Hultquist has aimed to provide via industry advocacy, collaboration with major lenders, and an informational reverse mortgage book that is currently in its 10th edition.
Understanding Reverse is regularly cited by industry professionals and subject matter experts as a critical text for staying on top of changes in the industry.
Hultquist has also been an advocate for reverse mortgage professionals keeping their educational programs up-to-date, offering insight into how the product category can be improved and analyzing new regulatory and product developments that may shape the standing of the business.
Because of his dedication to expanding reverse mortgage knowledge, Dan Hultquist is an addition to the 2022 Chanegmakers class.
Steve Irwin: President of NRMLA
Few people in the reverse mortgage business are as dedicated to the product category as Steve Irwin, who has served as the president of the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association (NRMLA) since 2019.
When Irwin ascended to the president role of the industry trade association, few people could have predicted the challenges — and opportunities — that the next few years would bring.
Just a few months into Irwin’s new role, the COVID-19 pandemic took hold of the globe. After some initial challenges, industry volume saw a sizable increase.
NRMLA under Irwin’s day-to-day leadership remained engaged with federal regulators at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to ensure that borrowers of reverse mortgage loans were not overlooked by the federal government as housing relief provisions were handed down throughout 2020 and 2021.
In addition, Irwin oversaw creation of new committees within the trade association, including one focused on expanding diversity in both the reverse mortgage business and its senior borrower pool.
Irwin led the association through the political tumult from transitioning to a new presidential administration while remaining active and engaged in monitoring legislative developments — which impacted the reverse mortgage profession at the local, state and federal levels.
NRMLA co-chair Scott Norman has said that anyone looking at Irwin’s packed calendar of meetings and responsibilities would likely be shocked by the level of work he takes on. This is one of many reasons why RMD has named Steve Irwin as an industry Changemaker.
Wendy Peel: Reverse mortgage consultant and advocate
Reverse mortgage professionals rarely take the well-beaten path into the business, and that’s true of BlackFin Group’s Wendy Peel.
After serving as chief marketer for the reverse mortgage business’ leading loan origination system (LOS) ReverseVision, Peel found a new home at BlackFin Group — and immediately started work on standing up a reverse mortgage consulting practice within the new organization.
In an interview earlier this year, Peel described what took her from industry professional to a full-fledged advocate.
“I watched very good people in this industry work so hard, and not really move the needle,” she said. “I am a passionate person for the underdog, and I honestly felt like there were disconnects between the technology and how the direct-to-consumer sales market was evolving. And honestly, in terms of the messaging to both the borrowers and even to the industry, I was shocked at how many people in the actual mortgage industry were so wrong about this lending program. So wrong about it.”
Another key factor that drove Peel’s increased involvement was empathy for the senior demographic.
“I’m getting older myself; I started paying attention,” she said. “One of my favorite aunts got a 30-year fixed mortgage at the age of 67, so she could put a deck on her house. Nobody even talked to her about a reverse — it wasn’t even an option. That really hit me.”
Moving from marketer to industry advocate — and maintaining the connections necessary to move the needle — is indicative of Peel’s ability to serve as an industry Changemaker in our 2022 class.
Look for more from the latest class of RMD Changemakers in 2023.
Former staffers from HUD, FHA and the GSEs weigh in on how to press ahead in this volatile reverse mortgage climate.