The National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association (NRMLA) announced on Wednesday that November 2021’s Annual Meeting and Expo will again be held virtually, and that the association will re-assess the safety and economic viability of returning to in-person regional meetings in early 2022. This is according to a bulletin sent out to NRMLA membership via email.
After deliberating internally among the association’s leadership team and Board of Directors, the decision to keep events in a virtual format was directly attributed to the rapidly-spreading Delta variant of the COVID-19 coronavirus, which is more contagious and has led to a spike in infections and hospitalizations across the country attributable to the pathogen.
“The decision was a difficult one, with many opinions being heard, but ultimately the final decision to hold a Virtual Annual Meeting was based on economics and personal safety,” said Scott Norman and Mike Kent, co-chairs of the NRMLA Board of Directors in a joint statement. “Given the surge in the Delta Variant, it’s too difficult to say with any degree of precision how many people would show up for an in-person meeting. The potential liability this creates was a motivating factor for why we decided to wait and reconsider our options.”
While NRMLA has aimed to maintain a regular schedule of events over the course of 2020 and 2021 using a virtual format, association members have displayed an eagerness to return to an in-person event format and that was a feeling also shared among association leadership, the statement says.
“Everybody at NRMLA, from the staff to the executive leadership, are as anxious as you to meet face-to-face,” Norman and Kent continued. “We will assess our options for a possible restart of regional face-to-face meetings in the first quarter of 2022. This decision will also be based on safety first and the economic viability of the event.”
Last month, the association publicly stated that it was actively weighing whether or not in-person meetings at the end of 2021 were viable from both economic and public safety perspectives, with co-chair Scott Norman explaining that the decision to maintain virtual venues for meetings was being done even though industry players hope to be able to meet with each other as soon as possible. However, many members had apparently voiced concerns about moving too quickly back to in-person events.
“We will have a conference in November no matter what, but we’re still trying to make sure that we’re putting a conference together that is not only safe with this new Delta variant, but to also be in a position where we can make sure that everybody can get there,” Norman said in July at the NRMLA Virtual Summer Meeting. “One thing that has been pretty active is that a number of people have voted not to have a face-to-face conference.”
The last in-person NRMLA event was 2019’s Annual Meeting and Expo, held in November at the Omni Hotel in Nashville, Tenn. Critical response to that event was positive, according to NRMLA President Steve Irwin who spoke with RMD shortly thereafter.