Two people working at a major bank’s mortgage division — one on the forward side, and one in reverse — shared an office. Glen Smart, who worked in reverse, always had good rapport with his senior clients due to the consultative nature of the reverse mortgage product.
The good-hearted nature of Smart’s client interactions made an impression on Robin Loomis, the forward professional who observed the interactions. It was observation of those interactions and the more personal nature of the reverse mortgage business itself that led to Loomis’ desire to transition into the reverse side of the business.
Little did Smart or Loomis know, however, that these interactions would lead to long-term reverse mortgage careers at Bay Equity Home Loans in Tucson — and also a marriage.
How reverse mortgages brought them together
One of the reasons that Loomis decided to transition into reverse after seeing so many of Smart’s interactions with his senior clients is that she came to learn that she preferred to serve the senior clientele.
“I remember Glen and I were sharing this really large old president’s office at the downtown branch,” she said. “And we had a big divider in between the room, with Glen on one side and me on the other. I’m working on all the traditional loans with younger people, and he’s working with all the seniors. They would all come in, sit in front of the desk and always share their great stories.”
Being exposed to these interactions made Robin’s own work seem less appealing, she said.
“I told him we just have to switch,” she said. “I didn’t want to do my side anymore; I wanted his people. So then they became my people, and he was my backup.”
Loomis and Smart then switched their focuses: Loomis became the person who talked to seniors and marketed the reverse mortgage product, while Smart maintained his position as a manager, writing both forward and reverse loans and overseeing the reverse mortgage department. Whereas Smart had to wear a lot of proverbial “hats” due to his position, Loomis decided the one hat she wanted to wear was a reverse hat.
It turns out that the time they spent working together also led naturally to an affinity for each other as well.
“We found out we just worked very well together,” Loomis said. “We were both available at that time and enjoy each other’s company. It truly just evolved into the next thing, [helped along by the fact that] we were together all the time already.”
A marriage while working together
When asked what their home dynamic is like, and whether they have work-related conversations during off-hours, Smart said that they developed an effective system over time, though some work conversation can still carry over into their home life.
“It used to be more of a challenge than it is,” Smart said. “We have some rules in place, if you will, some unspoken rules by now. We say that when we get home, if you need to mention something for a few minutes, there’s a brief window to do that. And then, we’re on to something else and don’t bring up work.”
That rule has become easier to follow over time, but Loomis notes that there is a difference between the two in terms of needing to shut off work after hours.
“By nature, Glen doesn’t need to turn off work like I do,” she said. “But there have been plenty of times even just recently that I’ve brought something up without even thinking about the fact that it’s work, on a Saturday, and Glen has calmly chimed in and said, ‘No work, if you don’t mind.’ When one of us says, either of us, we literally stop.”
Maintaining those boundaries is well-understood in their relationship, and each appreciates the other more when they try to keep working and personal matters segmented, they said.
Working in reverse together
With both involved in the reverse mortgage business, there is a unique opportunity for one of them to step in for the other if a situation calls for it, Smart said.
“What’s really nice about it, though, is if I’m in the middle of a project, I can absolutely ask a customer if I can have Robin chat with them for a bit, and she’ll do the same,” he said. “The other person can seamlessly step in, and we are very much in tune with the business and how it’s done. So for most customers — we kind of joke with them — it’s like she can finish my sentences.”
Being a married couple in the same business can have its entertaining moments, too. While they don’t brand themselves as a married couple that works in reverse mortgages, the fact that they have different last names can sometimes highlight how strong a potential business lead can be.
“[Us having different last names] can actually be a benefit,” Smart said. “It’s remarkable the number of people that will call and talk to Robin while I’m standing next to her. Then they’ll end that call, and then my phone rings. Now they’re calling me, shopping around. ‘Hey, guess what? I know exactly what you’re calling about!’ So that’s somewhat ironic.”