The National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association (NRMLA) on Thursday announced the election of its Board of Directors for the 2022-2023 term, including the selection of its co-chairs.
Mike Kent of PHH Mortgage Corporation and Scott Norman of Finance of America Reverse (FAR) will serve a new term as the board’s co-chairs, re-assuming duties they began after being elected to the posts in 2019.
Norman was first elected to NRMLA’s board in 2012 and serves as FAR’s VP of field retail and director of government relations. He notably advocated for an amendment to the Texas state Constitution in 1999 to authorize the practice of reverse mortgage lending within the state. Norman more recently played a role in advocating for the addition of reverse mortgage for purchase loans to the allowable offerings in the state, which required legislative action and voter approval.
Kent has served as the president of PHH’s Liberty Reverse Mortgage since 2015, and previously served as president of the mortgage lending division for Reverse Mortgage Solutions (RMS) from 2010 to 2014. Kent has cultivated over 30 years of traditional mortgage experience and held leadership roles across various lending functions, including sales, operations and secondary markets before becoming active in the reverse mortgage industry.
The road ahead
When contacted about his re-election, Norman said that he is optimistic about the growth potential the reverse mortgage industry continues to have while noting the positive contributions his predecessors made in the co-chair position.
“First off, it’s a great honor to be reelected to co-chair with Mike Kent,” Norman told RMD in an interview. “Additionally, when you think of the work and the enthusiasm past chairs have dedicated to our industry — like the Sarah Cavanaughs, Jim Mahoneys and the Joe DeMarkeys of the world, just to name a few — it’s something I’m really proud of, and to do it with Finance of America Reverse is even more special.”
Norman also described priorities for the coming year, with a lot of excitement regarding recent developments, such as the NRMLA Annual Meeting and Expo this month in Atlanta, along with the positive performance of the reverse mortgage book of business in the Mutual Mortgage Insurance (MMI) Fund.
“From engaging our membership to supporting NRMLA’s strategic initiatives and objectives, we have an exciting year ahead of us,” Norman said. “Recent years have shown that we are poised to expand the market and grow the industry even further, and seeing the developments within the industry and the increasing acceptance of leveraging home equity, I think we’re just getting started growing as an industry. It’s a very exciting time to be able to support the industry as NRMLA co-chair.”
When reached, Kent offered complementary perspectives as well as thoughts on the challenges emerging for the business now and in the new year.
“I’m honored to be reelected as co-chair,” Kent told RMD in an interview. “Getting the board’s approval and vote of confidence is an honor, and I really enjoy working with my friend Scott Norman who’s smart, politically savvy and has the best interests of the industry at heart. Business is going to be challenging, but I think we feel good as an industry about the strength of the recent MMI report.”
Challenges and opportunities, the MMI Fund
While the reverse mortgage industry has endured some challenges over the past several months, Norman said the past few years can help to the industry remain in a position of strength headed into 2023, due in part to headway made on the educational front.
“Certainly the last few months for real estate in general has been a time of change,” he said. “But when you look at not only the year we had in 2022, but also over the last few years, the industry is in a position where we’ve educated more policymakers and more influencers, and frankly, the public at-large, about the benefits of tapping into home equity to help age in place. So I feel like we are certainly in a position of strength.”
That position, he said is bolstered by thinking about the continuing realities of American retirement.
“When you start thinking about the number of people that are aging into retirement every day in the United States of America, many with less than five years saved for retirement, the opportunity to learn about what a reverse mortgage is has never been more pronounced and has never been more important,” Norman said.
Regarding this year’s positive performance of the MMI Fund, Norman said that lends to a strong position for the industry headed into 2023 — especially as it collaborates with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
“I was very pleased to read HUD’s Report to Congress and saw the sustained improvements as an additional sign that the reforms encouraged by NRMLA to promote the health of HECMs are succeeding,” he said. “HUD continues to provide great leadership, and we look forward to working with them over the next year to help expand HECM’s reach.”
Kent also offered perspective on the road ahead, saying that his “eternal optimism” combined with the continuing economic realities faced by seniors combine into what can be a favorable environment for the industry.
“The base demographics of our business haven’t changed,” Kent says. “There are still 12,000 Americans hitting age 65 every day, there are still 26 million households that could qualify for a reverse mortgage, and there are still over $11 trillion of home equity that those seniors hold. We’ve barely touched the surface of that demographic. So unlike maybe the forward space, where it’s going to be very challenging, we still have this enormous, untapped opportunity. Our simultaneous challenge and opportunity is figuring out how to tap into that.”
Another major opportunity for the business to expand is by appealing to more forward mortgage professionals to add reverse mortgages into their product mix, Kent said.
“We want to be working with those folks and educating them so they are knowledgeable on the product, and so it can become part of their product menu as they’re out in the marketplace doing what they do to originate loans,” Kent said. “Calling on real estate agents, attorneys and financial planners, reverse is just going to give them another arrow in their quiver. I think that’s going to be an enormous opportunity for our industry to capitalize on.”
The work of NRMLA
Kent also spoke about the desire to expand the base of NRMLA membership. When asked if he had any message for reverse mortgage professionals who are not association members, he said he hopes they understand the amount of work that NRMLA does on the industry’s behalf.
“This product didn’t evolve over the last 10-15 years on its own,” he said. “Part of the evolution — such as greater safeguards for non-borrowing spouses, ensuring that borrowers can meet their other mandatory obligations like property tax and insurance payments through financial assessment — those things didn’t come about on their own. Part of the reason they came about is because NRMLA worked hand-in-hand with FHA, HUD, and people in the legislative bodies to innovate the product to the point where it was a better, safer product for consumers.”
Kent also said that non-members should keep the educational materials of NRMLA in mind when contemplating how to keep up with ongoing issues and new developments in the reverse mortgage space.
“Educational materials from NRMLA are always there and available for an originator who is looking to get questions answered,” he said. “It’s always there and available for them to tap into.”
Filling out the board
The officers serving on the board in the new term include Vice Chairmen Jim Cory of Cherry Creek Mortgage and Robert Sivori of Roundpoint Mortgage Servicing Corporation, Treasurer Michael McCully of New View Advisors and Secretary Elly Johnson of All Reverse Pro.
Johnson replaces Leslie Flynne of Liberty Reverse Mortgage in the role of secretary, while McCully has been serving as treasurer for the past several years. Cory previously served at Open Mortgage when he first assumed the post of vice chair, while Sivori has since transitioned from Compu-Link Corporation (Celink) to his new company Roundpoint.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with perspective from Liberty Reverse Mortgage President and NRMLA co-chair Mike Kent.