Reverse mortgage professionals know all too well that there are seemingly infinite paths that people can take to get into the business, and chances are that most of the people who make up the industry have found themselves in it for a variety of different and often very diverse reasons. This is no different for Angel Booth, who serves as the senior sales executive for Premier Reverse Closings (PRC).
Most reverse mortgage industry professionals are likely familiar with Booth, an often regular presence at many of the industry events put on by the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association (NRMLA). She also often sends email updates to partners on behalf of PRC, making her a very visible presence at that company. RMD sat down with Booth to hear about the path she took into the reverse mortgage industry and what keeps her engaged in the business.
Rising to an executive role
Booth began her career on the conventional side of the mortgage business as an escrow assistant in the early 2000s and describes the manner in which she fell into the reverse mortgage business as happy but inadvertent.
“It was an accident,” she says. “No one says, ‘I want to do reverse mortgages, because they are just the bee’s knees.’ They have ended up being a great product [and] a great help for our seniors. They’re obviously profitable for our broker and lender partners. But for me, it was an accident. I actually was working in the conventional space. I had started there, I was fresh on the scene as just a measly assistant — shout out to all the assistants out there — and I just kind of stumbled upon it, honestly.”
Booth became aware of the reverse mortgage side of the broader business over the course of her work as an escrow assistant and describes a professional environment where different companies would seek out potential employees on a regular basis depending on the skills they brought to their work. Of course, that practice still happens, but Booth describes this as one of the things that ultimately brought her into the reverse mortgage business.
“Back in my day, you had these large group, mass exoduses, where you would be recruited if you had certain skill levels,” she says. Companies would seek you out, and you just went and moved around as a group. That’s how it started. When I made my first transition, it was to the reverse mortgage industry. And I worked with a company, Alliance Title, and again started out just as an assistant. I wasn’t of much value, I just did my job every day. But the more and more I learned under a really strong escrow officer, I just started enjoying what I did, and grasping it.”
At Alliance, Booth began working more closely with the reverse mortgage side of the industry and stayed there for several years before ultimately moving over to PRC, where she works today.
“[I was] learning new things and finding ways to do things easier and more efficiently, and it just spiraled from there,” she says. “So I tripped and fell into reverse, and I’ve been there ever since.”
Learning about the reverse mortgage business
When she made the professional transition that would lead her into the reverse mortgage business, Booth had never heard the term “reverse mortgage” prior to moving over to Alliance. After making the move and having worked there for around 6-12 months, Booth started to become more familiar with the negative reputation that the business and product has had with many consumers, she explains.
“I’ve learned the more that I’ve worked in this space that it’s really no different than the flak and press you get from conventional mortgages, it’s the same thing,” she says. “It’s just, I think because we’re such a small niche group, it looks a lot worse on us if we have the same types of headlines pop up. When you have something like a conventional loan you have [many similar issues] come up — I’m pretty sure — way more than you would in the reverse world.”
However, the scale and ubiquity of the forward mortgage business dwarfs the reverse business and comes with a potential benefit of the doubt among some circles, she says, and the fact that the forward side does not exclusively serve one primary demographic could also help it to avoid some of the issues faced in reverse.
“I learned really quickly that [the reverse mortgage] is definitely a benefit,” she says. “It helps more than it hurts, and it’s definitely a tool that people need for financial planning. I’m glad we’re finally starting to get to that point where financial planners actually look at it as an estate planning tool, and [as a tool] to let the senior age in place and stay in their home without having to sell or move unless they want to.”
Where reverse mortgage passion comes from
Booth’s journey into the business from an assistant role up through her current executive position has allowed her to see a lot of the dimensions of the product and the business, she explains. That’s one of the significant contributors to the level of passion she feels for the business, she says.
“[I make] connections with loan officers, brokers, processors and underwriters, and I’m helping them accomplish a means to an end of a file or a situation,” she says. “And then, maybe I start communicating with the borrowers, and you hear the stories about how they can’t go out and buy groceries. You go and drop off a set of documents for a notary, and you see that they might be living in a little bit of filth because they don’t have help, and they’re alone and can’t afford a cleaner to come out.”
Having a holistic view of the reverse mortgage business and its operations from the perspective of originators, brokers, notaries and underwriters through to borrowers helps to make clear to Booth the kind of potential the product has to help people, she says.
“At the end of the day when they’re done with their transactions, you know that you help them sustain a little longer,” Booth says. “You know that you help them pay for medications or groceries that they can’t afford, or alleviate\ some debt that was hanging over their head and stressing them. So for me, the reason that helped me stick with it, grow and blossom was just the desire and want to help people. Whether that be the borrower, my co-workers or our industry partners.”
Listen to the full discussion on The RMD Podcast.