Member Spotlight: Michael Pankow, City First Mortgage Services, Inc.

Member Spotlight: Michael Pankow, City First Mortgage Services, Inc.

To help our members get to know one another, NRMLA publishes periodic Member Spotlights featuring professionals from across the reverse mortgage ecosystem.

Meet Michael Pankow, National Director of Reverse Mortgage Lending at City First Mortgage LLC, headquartered in Bountiful, UT.

Michael joined City First last summer to establish a reverse mortgage division within the company. Previously, he worked at American Pacific Mortgage, CrossCountry Mortgage, Fairway Independent Mortgage Corp. and C2 Financial.

How did you get into the reverse mortgage world?
I started my career in the mortgage industry in 2004. The principal of the company I was at was an early adopter of the HECM product and had mentioned it at a training event. Additionally, having watched my grandmother struggle financially, I thought having a better understanding of the product made sense. As events would have it, I didn’t take the time to focus on HECM loans but after a short, two-year loan officer career, found myself in 2007 managing a branch at American Pacific Mortgage that had a Reverse Mortgage group attached.

Over the next 12 years, I observed their strategies and growth. They were excellent at their jobs, establishing the framework I still use today.  Later after moving to Fairway Independent Mortgage, I had the privilege of working with Harlon Accola who as far as I am concerned has set the standard for how companies integrate and train forward mortgage loan officers in the reverse mortgage space. While at Fairway, my region had 28 reverse mortgage certified originators, but as fate would have it, Covid, low interest rates, and a refinance boom halted our progress in the space. Fast forward to today, the environment is perfect for forward loan officers to reassess the merits of the HECM product and the positive impact it can have on the lives of seniors and their careers.

What current topics in the reverse mortgage world are you most focused on now?
I am most focused on how reverse mortgages can help seniors bridge the gap financially considering inflation, limited pensions, etc. The education of our referral partners, agents, financial planners, CPAs, others, and gaining their acceptance of the HECM product is a key focus through our reverse mortgage certified loan officers.

What has been your biggest professional challenge/obstacle thus far? How did you overcome/handle it?
The most significant challenge has been building a reverse mortgage department from the ground up inclusive of a certification program, development of marketing materials, training the loan officers to a level of proficiency consistent with a high level of skill and growing a consistent pipeline. We overcame this by being very consistent with our messaging of the HECM product and opportunity for forward loan officers to carve a different path, grow their pipelines and make a real difference in the lives of seniors. I feel VERY strongly about teaching our loan officers how to “Fish” per say. The approach we are taking is a very comprehensive hands-on approach to training that exposes our loan officers to every facet of the HECM product, how to sell it, overcoming the myths, how to present the product, etc. It seems to be working still, we are always adjusting.

What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment in your career to date?
If I could point to one thing it would be consistently being associated with great teams and fostering an environment where great things happen.

If you could offer one piece of advice to someone who wants to get into the reverse mortgage world, what would it be and why?
I would say this is a GREAT opportunity because the market size and opportunity are truly unlimited backed by a growing need with our seniors to fill the income gap. I think the timing is also right because there appears to be a growing “acceptance” of the HECM product that will accelerate the loan officer’s efforts in this space.

Who has been a mentor to you in your career? How has their work impacted yours?
While at American Pacific Mortgage, I had the privilege of watching Des Lenz grow his reverse mortgage department over a 12-year period of time and then later Harlan Accola at Fairway. Both are focused on the education of forward loan officers and their referral partners while also providing the operational resources to make the forward loans officers’ job much easier. Their models work well!

Why did you become a NRMLA member?
I became a NRMLA member because I wanted to immerse myself in the HECM space. I appreciate the support, focus, and trail blazing efforts of the NRMLA team and the advocacy they provide for our industry.

What has been your favorite NRMLA event and why?
I have enjoyed both the regional and national event. I enjoy them because it brings together like-minded individuals who are focused on serving seniors through reverse mortgages. We are a small group of professionals so interacting with them is good stuff.

What do you like to do in your spare time? Do you have any hobbies or pursuits?
I enjoy the gym for sure. Not that I am a power lifter, but staying in shape is a huge focus for me. I also enjoy cooking, traveling, and time with family. Golf is something I enjoy but tough to carve out the time for it right now.

If you could trade places with anyone for a day, who would it be and why?
Oh boy, I am a bit of a history and aviation buff, so I would have to say being one of the Wright brothers. The impact they made after demonstrating powered flight was possible changed the world forever. The hurtles and obstacles they overcame are something I admire greatly.  I like “Underdogs”!

What do you love most about working in the reverse mortgage industry?
To be honest, what I enjoy most are two things: the emotions I get from my senior clients after the loan closes that the stress they were experiencing is now gone or greatly alleviated and teaching loan officers how to be proficient and productive in this field.

Who inspires you?
Anyone who has overcome extreme adversity to accomplish great things.

What is your favorite food city? Favorite meal in said city?
I truly LOVE the Mexican culture so anywhere in Mexico is my jam. Cabo in particular comes to mind. I like a lot of different foods but skew to anything spicy and sweet. The seafood in Cabo is fantastic!

What’s one item you can’t live without?
Hmm…cologne. I love to smell good… 🙂

Published by

Darryl Hicks

Darryl Hicks is Vice President of Communications for the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association. In this capacity, Hicks writes for NRMLA's publications, manages the association's web sites and social media accounts, assists committees and the Board of Directors, and manages the Certified Reverse Mortgage Professional designation. Prior to joining NRMLA in 1999, Hicks spent three years in the Washington, D.C. bureau for National Mortgage News.