Managing Yourself to be Successful: What to Look for in a New Reverse Mortgage Hire

You need help building your reverse mortgage business. Your success is tied to those you bring onto your sales team. What are the traits and skills of successful reverse mortgage loan officers? What kinds of backgrounds do successful loan originators have? What can managers do to help new hires succeed?

Human Traits
Personal integrity—defined as properly representing yourself, your company, and the industry—is a key trait to look for in a new hire. Being patient, having good listening skills, a caring and compassionate attitude toward senior issues, a strong work ethic, being an active conversationalist, having a genuine interest in learning about people (their needs and desires), and possessing an old-fashioned likeability are key attributes of successful reverse mortgage loan officers.

Deep Product Know-how
Beyond the ‘soft’ skills, solid knowledge of available programs, not just being able to recite the points of them, but understand them from the ground up is essential to being successful.

Most successful people understand the theory, the rationale, and the whys behind the programs.

Financial-sales Types
People with financial sales backgrounds with good “underpinning” in financial theory tend to be more successful. These professionals may include insurance agents (property, casualty, and life), investment products salespeople, and financial planning, and consulting. People who may not have financial sales backgrounds, but are good with numbers and have strong analytical skills, also do well.

There are exceptions to the financial-sales, financial-theory, numbers-loving, and analytical types. For example, stay-at-home moms. Could it be that the patient and nurturing nature of stay-at-home moms (and dads) makes them better reverse mortgage originators?

Could the ‘soft’ skills of patience and empathy be more indicative of success? Before you jump out and start recruiting all the number-crunchers and financial theorists out there, remember there is no one simple formula for identifying successful reverse mortgage loan officers.

Good ‘Network Animals’
There is a particular breed of people who have been very successful as originators. One manager said the most successful people at his organization are what he calls ‘network animals." They’ve gone out to develop their referral networks; they attend all the different breakfast functions; they attend all the different mixers. Through that, they’ve developed their professional sources and are able to sustain themselves with that business.

Long-term success in this business requires networking through professional sources.

Education, Record-Keeping, and Follow-up
Because of the mountain of misconceptions and misinformation out there, education of self, customers, their families, and trusted advisors (so that they become comfortable with reverse mortgages) is vital to success.

Become an educator, not a salesperson. If you are going to be successful, find people that are willing, caring, and compassionate; people that have the patience to educate borrowers about the programs.

Besides education, success also requires good record-keeping and follow-up skills because time-to-application (TTA) for seniors can take months and the successful originator must do regular follow-ups.

Part-timer employees, and those who are uncomfortable with computer hardware, tend not to be successful.

Specialization and focus are preconditions for success because forward and reverse mortgages are like “night-and-day.” They demand different mindsets. So, keep your forward and reverse mortgage businesses separate.

Age Makes No Difference
It is easy to assume that a senior will be more successful than a younger loan officer. That is not the case. Another manager has a 28-year-old and a 52-year-old that are very productive. What counts, he said, is what the originator brings to the table: patience, empathy, and relational skills, among others.