For a reverse mortgage professional, a relationship with a financial planner can be a very powerful referral partnership to forge. Financial planners provide their clients with the necessary advice on what to do with their money, are very receptive to concepts that help their clients mitigate financial losses, and suggest strategies for someone to achieve longevity. of its monetary resources among many other important services.
Since a key argument made by reverse mortgage professionals about the product they work with revolves around consolidating finances for a secure retirement, financial planners may be particularly receptive to reverse mortgages as a tool to help. to finance the retirement of their clients. The approach of a financial planner can be nuanced, however, as people in this profession are also very aware of the same reputational hurdles reverse mortgages face with consumers.
At RMD’s Sales and Marketing Forum, a digital event held in late March, Finance of America Reverse (FAR) vice president of retirement strategies Stephen Resch explained what he believes is the best way to reverse mortgage originators to approach financial planners; and the types of lessons that planners may find most intriguing about the product category.
Use the right context with financial planners
Like many financial planning professionals, Resch himself was not immediately won over by the concept of reverse mortgage products until about 15 years ago, when a very zealous reverse mortgage agent continued to try to have a conversation with him about the product category. Still having doubts about reverse mortgages, Resch describes his reluctance to hear what the originator had to say.
“I kept throwing him out,” Resch explains. “I was actually offended. I told him “my clients don’t need reverse mortgages, and I don’t need you”. But eventually after about 6 months he was very persistent and he finally said something to me that made me stop and think.
Instead of wanting to talk specifically about reverse mortgages, the originator instead asked if Resch could better improve or manage a client’s financial future if he had an additional $ 300,000 to $ 400,000. In those words, that’s what caught Resch’s attention, he explains.
“It really got me to what he was talking about,” Resch says. “Because as an advisor, if you are considering a 20 or 30 year retirement plan, you always worry about [whether or not] there are loopholes somewhere. If there is a shortfall on long-term care or if you do not have enough reserves to handle the sequence of returns [risk], there is always something you could manage better if you had access to more capital. So that’s what got me.
The greater presence of financial planners’ interactions with the reverse mortgage industry is visibly evident through things like academics who are part of the Academy for Financial Planning Equity at the University of Illinois. Urbana-Champaign, and some of the partnerships that have been forged between financial planning organizations and reverse mortgage lenders. This, along with the personal interactions Resch has had, indicates that a course may have been turned in the outlook for these professionals on reverse mortgages.
“Their attitudes have definitely changed, but that’s mostly in the last few years,” says Resch. “I think there are several factors as to why, but the first is that the industry is taking so many steps to protect this program and make it a safe product for everyone. Whether you are a financial advisor recommending it or a client using it, these guarantees have really helped to eliminate the bad press that we have had for so many years.
That’s not to say the bad press is a thing of the past, but the progress made by the industry, its representatives, and the US housing authorities in the federal government has gone a long way in reshaping the image of a reverse mortgage as something that could be a potentially useful tool for a senior in the appropriate situation, he says. The extra attention from university researchers has also helped redefine what reverse mortgages are and can be for people, he says.
“There has been so much research done by some great people that has really helped enlighten the counseling community and the planning-based consumer as to what concepts could be used with home equity,” he says. . “I think the other thing too is that we [in the industry] are all here to speak up and do our part to get this message across. There is more to this program than just something to bail out someone who has no money.
Both Planners and Consumers Need Reverse Mortgage Education
Not only is there more to the product category than that, but Resch says that a “loan of last resort” scenario for someone who is needs-based might be the least productive potential use case for them. a reverse mortgage. Yet even taking stock of the improvements that have been made in reputation management and media coverage, education must remain a top priority for the industry, says Resch.
“[Financial planners] are getting involved and interested in reverse mortgages, but they still haven’t really bought into the concept, ”he says. “On the advisory side, for example, there is a product called ‘index annuity’. Many advisors use it with their clients. I think the concept sounds good, but I’ve never really had a confident person come and sit with me and explain the product to me and show me how it might help one of my specific clients. So I have never referred this product to anyone, I stay away from it.
The point is, taking the time to sit down with a planner and explain from a specialist’s perspective why a financial product could be of benefit to clients can be a very important and decisive exercise, says Resch.
“If I don’t know him, I won’t do it again,” he said. “I think advisors think the same way when it comes to reverse mortgages. If they’ve heard enough and it makes sense to them, they think they could use it. But until they know about this product, they are not going to refer it. So we really need to keep doing the webinars [and the educational outreach], but we also have to walk into that office and sit down with them and customize it for them to show how it might work for their clients.
Effective Methods of Communicating with Financial Planners
Obviously, the idea of entering someone else’s office must have evolved necessarily due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, so if necessary then it becomes more important to rely on modern technological tools like Skype, FaceTime or Zoom, says Resch. A sender using a mass email to financial advisers can actually work against himself to some extent.
“I think a lot of the mistakes I see from people trying to come forward to advisers are that they do these mass email campaigns,” he says. “This may work, but usually I don’t think it’s going to work. There must be a few things that will attract the advisor. [An email] should be very short and to the point, and it should sound personal. The only emails I read have a very short subject line that I can digest quickly, and I need to be able to see that box without opening the email exactly what they’re talking about. And if they don’t capture my interest at that time, their post will be deleted.
When it comes to the potential best way to appear in front of an advisor, sometimes the older tools can be the best, he says.
“Better yet, I think the old phone call is the best way to go,” he says. “In my consulting firm, I probably get two voicemail messages a week [compared to sometimes hundreds of emails]. That’s it. And both of which I will listen to because if someone leaves me a message, my curiosity is aroused.