Nov/Dec 2023 RMM

Moving Forward Reinvention Is One Way to Look at Change 2024 Will Require New Approaches on All Fronts By Steve Irwin, President, National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association A RECENT OPINION piece in The New York Times by Brad Stulberg resonated with me. “… [S]o many people have fraught relationships with change,” he said. “We deny it, resist it or attempt to control it—the result of which is almost always some combination of stress, anxiety, burnout and exhaustion. It doesn’t have to be that way.” Stulberg is clearly advocating for us all to embrace change—to learn and grow from it. While I couldn’t agree more, I also believe the change we embrace is not merely the change that confronts us daily. The time has come for us all to recognize that the coming year will necessarily require us to be agents for change. We must purposefully reinvent our products, our ways of interacting with consumers and counterparties and tirelessly pursue changes to our product offerings. Here at NRMLA HQ, we will continue to support the reinvention of the Federal Housing Administration (FHA)-insured HECM program, which is indeed a unique public policy solution to the financial challenges faced by the U.S. aging population. There are no quick and easy fixes, but thoughtful refinement can ensure the longevity of this critically important program. For example, there are opportunities to explore—and advocate—a true risk-based HECM model. Adjustments to the initial mortgage insurance premium must be carefully considered in those cases, where the risk to the product’s insurer, FHA, is mitigated by draw limitations and improvements to the collateralized property. We must also reinvent our customer service deliveries, whereby, at each point in the reverse mortgage life cycle, the customer is delighted by improved response times and the impressive offerings of a robust variety of communication methods. Sales approaches will need reinvention. An ever- increasing amount of customer data and sales experience needs to be analyzed and shared. Sales teams will need to reskill to take advantage of the power of analytics tools, artificial intelligence and chatbots. NRMLA itself will need to continually improve its engagement with its membership, our regulators and the government authorizers of the HECM program. I am committed to exploring more robust digital member engagement and heightened data analysis in the coming year. While we may make some missteps and experience some setbacks, the time has come to have our industry leapfrog into a more modern and flexible marketplace. I look forward to working with you all to embrace the challenge of industrywide reinvention. Onward. Steve Irwin “We have to give ourselves permission to fall down and to have missteps and set-backs in order to grow and be unapologetic about our journey.”—Thasunda Brown Duckett, President and CEO, TIAA REVERSE MORTGAGE / NOVEMBER–DECEMBER 2023 5