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This Lender Sees Growing Financial Planner Interest in Reverse Mortgages

Educating financial advisers about the merits and effectiveness of reverse mortgages in retirement income planning has been a hot topic among industry members looking to boost their referral channels. But while there are various ways to educate planners and advisers, one reverse lender has been seeing a growing interest in hosting webinars tailored for these professionals.

Reverse mortgage misconceptions still abound, both among the general public as well as within the financial planning community. But rather than expound on the technical details of reverse mortgages and their place in retirement planning, non-industry professionals are better served if the material is tangible and relatable to their businesses.

“We have to translate beyond the technical features of reverse mortgages and help financial advisers understand how and when this product could work for their clients,” said Tom Dickson, national leader of the financial advisor channel at Reverse Mortgage Funding (RMF).

Appointed to this role earlier this summer, Dickson’s credentials include eight years of “trying to evangelize” the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) product in efforts to make believers out of financial advisers and other stakeholders focused on retirement planning.

With RMF, Dickson is responsible for furthering his efforts to educate the financial planning community about reverse mortgages and building relationships with these professionals at the enterprise level. This involves supporting company loan officers and educating the financial advisers working in their local communities.

One way Dickson accomplishes this is through the Retirement Experts Network, an online educational platform that hosts a series of webinars designed to help financial services professionals learn more about important retirement issues, home equity and reverse mortgages included.

The webinars focus on several key reverse mortgage topics, including the various functions of the reverse mortgage line of credit and how it can be used to mitigate market volatility and reduce sequence of returns risk, while also providing opportunities for refinancing and right-sizing in retirement.

“Usually, if you can cover those issues with a planner, they are going to identify clients that could benefit from one of those four uses,” Dickson said.

Sessions also discuss the value of FHA insurance, in terms of the features and protections it provides—an area of importance not often considered in education efforts tailored for the financial planning community. This can be important when discussing that monthly payments from a HECM continue even if they exceed the home’s value over time, or if the home declines in value, that is, granted that the loan holder continues to uphold their borrowing responsibilities.

“I’m not sure that many financial advisers are aware of that side of [FHA’s] insurance fund,” Dickson said. “When you communicate that to financial professionals, that’s a big plus.”

The latest webinar hosted by Retirement Experts Network this past week explored tax strategies for retirees. Featuring a presentation from Robert Keebler, CPA, the session provided advice on how retirees can optimize results by minimizing taxes with tax bracket management strategies. The session also included a presentation from Dickson on how tax-free funds from a HECM can help clients reduce taxable withdrawals from IRAs.

Given that the reverse mortgage section served as just one component to the overall presentation—consuming only about five minutes—Dickson noted that the response from attendees was 50% higher than the average compared to previous webinars.

“It’s interesting that in five minutes we can generate a reasonable amount of interest,” Dickson said.

When gauging the level of interest among webinar attendees, Dickson said Retirement Experts Network tracks how many participants request an education call on reverse mortgages following the session.

“In this particular call, the indication of interest was certainly above the norms at a fairly significant level, with one out of every two advisers surveyed asked to be contacted by an RMF representative,” he said.

Dickson attributed the response in part to the renown of the financial experts co-hosting the call. “It’s their brand that can help. Bob Keebler has a national brand in the financial planning community. We get a lift from that.”

Dickson noted that he sees similar increase in attention on reverse mortgage webinars when they feature other widely recognized financial planning experts, too, such as Harold Evensky and John Salter—both of whom have extensively researched the use of reverse mortgages as part of a retirement income planning strategy.

It’s with the help of these experts that reverse mortgage education is able to flourish and reach a wider financial planning audience

“It [interest] continues to grow, there’s no question about it,” Dickson said. “I think we’re covering more bases collectively with more industry players who are putting financial and people resources behind this.”

Written by Jason Oliva