Reverse mortgage professionals often have to determine new and novel ways to try and connect with borrowers to fuel new business, but to also create enough visibility that rampant product misconceptions can be countered by someone who knows about the subject matter. Local media is one such tool used by certain loan originators in their local communities to get the word out, and now one such professional is planning on using local radio to serve as a sustained platform to talk about the product.
Tim Kennedy, director of business development at U.S. Mortgage Corporation in New York, has secured a regular weekly slot on 103.9 FM LI News Radio serving eastern Long Island to talk about reverse mortgages. In addition to seeing this as a good marketing opportunity, Kennedy also describes how the educational value for people in his community has significant potential, and the show can be streamed nationwide for those who do not reside on Long Island.
To get a better idea of what led Kennedy into exploring local radio as a reverse mortgage marketing and educational opportunity, RMD sat down with him for an interview to discuss the new show.
From reverse mortgage guest to radio host
Over the course of the past year, Kennedy describes his previous interactions with radio shows on financial topics as one element that led to his own show. A number of financial professionals with their own radio shows had reached out to Kennedy to discuss how reverse mortgages could interact with the businesses they already offer.
“I was on with a credit repair person discussing how reverse mortgages work and financial assessment, I was on a call with a financial planner discussing that a reverse mortgage is no longer a last resort, and that it’s a tax-efficient retirement income tool,” Kennedy says. “I was a guest with a divorce attorney on how we could implement a reverse mortgage when it comes to splitting the assets during a divorce with borrowers over the age of 62. And then I was on a call with an insurance guy. Same premise, how can we add a reverse mortgage to this strategic retirement plan.”
Exposing the reverse mortgage concept to a wider audience of professionals and their listeners had its own benefits, but Kennedy also found himself running against the clock in trying to relay a lot of information.
“What was happening is, as I was doing these shows, it was frustrating because you only had a limited amount of time,” he says. “They, of course, had to promote their business and their show, and ask me questions. But we never had enough time to really get the full message out.”
That equation changed when a producer for the radio station asked Kennedy what he thought of hosting a regular show himself.
“It took me a little while to think about it, but I finally said that yeah, I’m going to do this,” he explains. “Because now, I can be the host of my own show. I can talk reverse and I can use that space and venue to promote reverse mortgages. To dispel the myths and the ancient incorrect information that’s out there. And then, I can take each piece of the reverse mortgage, spend more time on them and break it all down. And that’s what I’m looking forward to. That’s what I’m excited about, and it should be fun.”
An educational and marketing opportunity
The marketing opportunities are certainly present in an endeavor like this, but Kennedy emphasized the educational potential he sees when exploring the possible impact that a dedicated reverse mortgage radio show on Long Island could have. That’s true for capturing client leads, but it also could help in capturing the attention of trusted advisors like family members and friends.
“What I’m really looking forward to is educating the 55-to-60-year-olds, the people that are not 62 yet, because, I want to plant that seed,” he says. “When they are 62 or 65 and ready to retire, a reverse mortgage may be a viable option for them. And then the flip side is that I’m hoping to attract the 20, 30, or 40-year-olds who may have parents that are 60, 70, and 80 years old. It’s all about eliminating all the misconceptions and the wrong information that’s out there.”
Initially, the format of the show will take on some recent reverse mortgage history, Kennedy explains, citing the 2013 passage of the Reverse Mortgage Stabilization Act as a possible starting point.
“Going over the corrections and guidelines that have been implemented over the last 10 years to make this a much safer, consumer-friendly product [is important],” he says. “To get out there in the open and make sure that the number one misconception people have about a reverse mortgage — about the bank or government taking or owning the house — isn’t true. That’s the furthest thing from the truth, so debunking that misperception is first.”
Having different guests from different financial professions will also naturally come into the fold later because of the nature of reverse mortgage origination, Kennedy says.
“I will eventually open it up to guests, because I like to help them promote their businesses, and so people understand that when they’re planning for retirement, you just don’t do a standalone reverse mortgage, or any financial product, by itself. It’s more of a collaborative effort,” he says. “There are multiple pieces to the puzzle, like Social Security options, pension income, insurance or annuity options, Roth conversions, employment status, all that stuff. A reverse mortgage is just another piece of the puzzle.”
Reverse mortgage opportunities in local media
Other active and successful reverse mortgage professionals in other regions across the country also have their own radio shows in their markets, and have described a level of success in dedicating time, effort and money to that as a way to generate business.
For Kennedy, who holds the Certified Reverse Mortgage Professional designation from NRMLA, local media is a great way to pick up the educational baton and drive it further into local communities, citing the national efforts of organizations like the Academy for Home Equity in Financial Planning and its members’ recent contributions to a New York Times article about reverse mortgages as an inspiration.
“They’ve done tremendous work getting this reverse mortgage conversation going again, and I think it’s up to the rest of us to follow suit and promote what they’re promoting,” Kennedy says. “There’s a lot of historical data, research and case scenarios that verify that a reverse mortgage early in retirement could work as a viable solution for someone hoping to solve that financial longevity concern. I think any time an industry professional who is well-equipped to talk about reverse mortgages can have a platform and can educate to dispel the myths, that’s a positive step forward.”
Kennedy’s show, “It’s Just a Mortgage,” will air weekly on Mondays at 3:00pm EST on 103.9 FM on Long Island or streaming online at the station’s website.