As local economies across the country begin the process of slowly reopening in the wake of closures caused by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, lingering questions about safety persisting in the minds of consumers is still only natural. According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in an interview with CNN, the earliest that a safe and viable vaccine could start to become publicly made available is sometime in the first quarter of 2021.
Until then, public anxiety — particularly on the part of those most vulnerable to serious illness from COVID-19, including seniors — could lead to continued reservations when it comes to meeting business people face-to-face until a vaccine is more widely available. To keep reverse mortgage business moving in a positive direction, however, some lenders are more readily embracing technological alternatives to substitute the in-person meeting experience.
Technological options for meeting clients
Reverse mortgage technology company Reverse Focus understands that the moment as defined by the pandemic is a challenging one, but there are also certain kinds of opportunities that have arisen that help to provide a unique kind of emphasis on some of the services it seeks to provide to the reverse mortgage industry. This is according to company president Mike Floth.
“From where we are, we are feeling the challenges and also feeling the opportunity in the market because of course, we are interacting with reverse mortgage professionals and specifically originators every single day,” Floth tells RMD. “Their pain is our pain, and their opportunity is our opportunity. We’ve just been focused on providing world class service and technology to help reverse originators to market their businesses for the modern day, to have an A+ sales operation and systems in place so that they can do what they’re good at, which is meeting clients.”
The unique challenge presented by the inability for reverse mortgage professionals to meet clients has given Reverse Focus an opportunity to provide more value, Floth shares. On top of its foundational technology products like websites, search engine optimization (SEO) and CRM software, the company is also further able to pick up strategic thinking with its customers, Floth explains.
“We ask them how they’re engaging with prospects since they can’t meet face-to-face, what their challenges are, how they’re adapting, because everyone’s thinking about that,” Floth says. “We’re in a position that is really exciting because we have some tips and tricks up our sleeves, we do have some ideas that we can share, and some value we can bring to people who are asking the questions about handling so much change. It’s been great. We react, respond and live with individuals. We hear them, we feel them, and we hopefully provide a level of encouragement and value to help them feel better.”
Zoom, Loom and the promise of video
Among the suite of products that Reverse Focus offers including the aforementioned web tools, CRM and SEO services, the company offers video connection services that can offer a reverse mortgage loan originator a unique ability to explain all of the specific elements of a transaction with a prospective client.
“Of course, Zoom is a buzzword now. Everyone’s using Zoom,” Floth says, referring to the video conferencing service that has exploded in popularity since the onset of the pandemic. “It’s always been big, but now Zoom is everything. Another one is Loom, which is very simple point-and-click screen recording software that also records video while you’re presenting your computer screen.”
Loom is particularly useful for the reverse mortgage profession, because it allows an originator to walk a prospect through a reverse mortgage proposal on their computer, with the originator’s face being visible and recorded as the prospect can see the originator’s screen.
“You click a button and you’re recording,” Floth says. “And so, walking someone through a reverse mortgage proposal, you can walk through each paragraph and explain it while it’s recording a video of your face. You can address that individual client, and it’s a great way to solve the problem of not having a kitchen table conversation. It addresses that, somewhat.”
Salespeople also very clearly see the benefits of using Loom. Under normal circumstances, it’s not uncommon for a loan officer to have to answer the same questions about the product multiple times, and then if a family member of a prospect becomes involved, then the same questions are asked and answered yet again, further complicating and slowing the process.
As a tool, Loom helps to avert this kind of issue according to Scott Harmes, national manager of the C2 Reverse division of C2 Financial Corp in San Diego, Calif.
“What we’re doing is we’re using Loom videos where we’ll pull up the analysis on the screen and then hit ‘record,’” Harmes explains. “We can send an email to the client that has a video link and an analysis attached. The homeowner can print out the analysis then click the video link, and see an explanation of what they’re about to see.”
In the attached video, the loan officer can go through and explain the specific elements of a transaction point by point, and the relevant video can be revisited as many times as necessary by both the client and his or her family members who want to become a more active part of the decision-making process.
“We see these videos watched sometimes as many as seven times,” Harmes says. “The borrower will watch it, they’ll go about their business, they’ll get up the next day, and they’ll watch it again. And instead of calling the loan officer to rehash the questions, they’re getting their questions re-answered by rewatching the video. And it’s all done by making a three-to-five minute video. It’s the most powerful presentation tool that I’ve run into in my entire career, and the pandemic has made the use of this type of tool a necessity.”
‘Not a replacement’ for the kitchen table, but a viable stand-in
While the technological aspect does make things easier for some reverse mortgage business people who find themselves constrained by either stay-at-home orders, phased reopenings or just continued consumer anxiety, there are few things — if any — that can replace the traditional “kitchen table” experience, Floth says.
“[Tech solutions] can’t replace a face-to-face meeting, or that kitchen table conversation,” he says. “But, it can accomplish a similar experience. That goes back to the technology question, and what someone is comfortable doing. If someone told you that there’s a solution for a problem you may have and it has to do with signing up for a video conferencing app and plugging it into your CRM or your website, that’s all fine and dandy. But, they don’t know how to actually do that.”
There is also no shortage of new tech solutions that spring up on a regular basis in the current climate, but this is yet another opportunity for Reverse Focus to differentiate itself for the services it can provide specifically for the reverse mortgage industry, Floth says.
“The reality is that there’s all kinds of solutions that you can jump into,” he says. “There’s all kinds of video conferencing tools and technology that automates and helps with sales process and prospecting. But, how do you do it right? That’s where we can come in and help guide them to the things that will actually help them. We can help them to solve the challenge of not having the opportunity to sit down at the kitchen table.”