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Shaping the Message: Extreme Summit


Controlling Our Market Brand and Perception

Marketing experts see plenty of companies begin a public relations campaign and then leave it in the hands of the media. When it comes to reverse mortgages one can safely say the media has done its share of harming the reverse mortgage’s reputation with half-truths, inaccuracies and outright misleading statements. Sure some media outlets have given balanced or positive coverage but are we controlling and shaping the message. The good news is that our industry is taking action. The National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association in cooperation with several lenders is launching the “Extreme Summit”. Its a PR effort focused on geo-targeted advertising, driving positive impressions in the news and rebranding the HECM product itself.

The idea was born from a brainstorming session held at NRMLA’s 2012 annual meeting in San Antonio led by Liberty Home Equity Solutions CEO Otto Kumbar. Lender participants are putting there money where their mouth is committing over $2 million dollars to date. Such a campaign is critical since the perceived typical reverse mortgage borrower is becoming more scarce in light of reduced lending ratios and the financial assessment. If we let the media and general public push the erroneous notion the loan is only for the house rich and cash poor our marketshare stands to take another cut. Rather than playing damage control…


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  1. Job well done as usual Shannon. You touched on a very important subject that just may determine the fate of the HECM in the future.

    I also feel that so much hinges on the knowledge of those out in the field communicating with our seniors. Over the past few years I have noticed changes in our industry that has caused the senior to mistrust the HECM program and the people selling the program and it is just not the media.

    Sure, the media has caused a tremendous amount of damage, I agree with you 100% but I also see that we are the creator of a lot of our own image adversities.

    Companies need to take a look at what kind of educational programs they have for their sales people. For instance, your own RM training program, it is excellent. If every company would spend the money and time putting each of their people, sales and admin into your type program and followed through with it, WOW!

    In short what I am saying is that we would have educated representatives in the field, building up trust with our seniors and doing business the right way!

    I realize this is not the entire solution but it sure would change our image, especially working in conjunction with what you presented today in your video.

    John A. Smaldone

  2. Hey John,

    One of the biggest problems we face today is the improper education of seniors by originators. Employers used to leave the education and continuing education of originators up to firms like Wells Fargo, Financial Freedom, Bank of America, and MetLife Bank. Today we do not have those firms in the industry but the education and continuation of originators still is not high on anyone’s list of priorities.

    Your point about this lack eventually harming the image of the industry and the industry itself is well taken. This can be seen today by how many have recently been trying to place the huge round peg of calling HECM proceeds income into the very small square hole of truth and integrity. In the area of originator education and continuation education on reverse mortgages we have a long road in front of us.

    • Cynic,

      Thank you very much. I wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and lets hope for a Happy 2014.

      Take care,

      John Smaldone


    • Cliff,

      The legal costs and the costs from being fined for filing frivolous suits would bankrupt the filer of such suits. Most of the critics are simply expressing their opinion and unless it can be shown by a preponderance of the evidence that the critics somehow acted in bad faith, the action you suggest would backfire and produce even worse PR than we experience now.

      What are the grounds for the suits you want to see filed?

  4. Having worked in the real estate market (2005-09) on and off, I experienced the up turn and the down turn. The time between the up and the down was the growth period. The product was similar . Buyer,seller,financial institution, the process if you will was the same across the board. Supply and demand . I worked with a group that continually expanded their market . They did not wait for the change they flowed with the change and sometimes created change.
    Having re entered the market last winter thru this HECM “portal” I incorporated the same business plan that was taught to me years prior . Unfortunately the principle of the firm was not interested in “working” a potential client . Pound the phone , get 200 calls in and get your 4 “possible” leads…. The respect that I had for this firm as well as the respect I have for the principle had me tow the line. That lasted a few weeks and the results were simply poor. Change in the program was coming down the pike. The April changes on the horizon as well as the total over haul we are entering now painted a gloomy horizon . Change is good and that is what I did. Having a sales and marketing background has always helped me to succeed. Understand what your customer needs, and show them the potential that this program offers. Bottom feeding is for hacks and those who lived off the desperate are the guilty parties who tarnished an otherwise beneficial program . The program is suited to some and not to all. This industry has witnessed change and with that change watched specialists thrive and part time HECM originators find another “racket”.
    Its good to see the NRMLA continue to be proactive to address the market conditions with potential solutions . Originators would better served if marketing and sales was added to a resume. The telemarketing approach is more detrimental to the market . Education is always a positive measure. Stay current with what is working and more importantly be aware of what is not working. The challenge of the HECM client should feed your campaign not put water on the fire

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