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Before the Damage is Done

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Proactive Steps in Dealing with the Media

reverse mortgage newsWe’ve all read or seen them and utter a collective ‘ugh’ or fume after the fact. Negative and misinformed stories in the press or television on reverse mortgages. Looking back and reflecting on this unfortunate and recurring ignorance by so-called experts I began to ask myself ‘what could we have done differently’? Here are just a few ideas in addressing and more importantly preventing damaging and misleading media stories about reverse mortgages.

1- It’s often too late. Once your local paper or a national website like Fox Business releases a wonderfully misinformed or inaccurate article the damage is done. Period. Like feathers scattered in the wind our attempts to correct, cajole or expose such ignorant stories are mostly ineffective damage control. Sure we can try to pick up the pieces but they’ve already blown across the landscape.

2- Educate your local media. Look at the major papers and television stations in your market and ask to…

Download the video transcript for this episode here.

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8 Comments

  1. Good article Shannon. Some very good ideas for all of us. I might add that advising key State and Local government officials of your expertise can also have positive results.
    Not for Profits can also submit PSA’s (public service announcements) to local media and are often looking for good, informative articles.
    Isn’t NRMLA a not for profit?

    • PSAs are normally not available to IRC 501(c)(6) organizations like NRMLA. They are generally reserved for specific types of IRC 501(c)(1), (2), and (3) charities, including government, private schools, etc.

  2. Damage Done. Add to changes, the anticipated FAT (Fin. Asses. Tool).. Reverse now ready (over ready) to see massive exodus of LO’s. (My opinion- while negative- is the honest truth about this). I love Reverse and have for 8 years but, add to all this the CFPB, compliance issues, compensation issues and it just very well finally be the time to find another career.

    • Mike,

      You correctly touch on a number of things facing the industry, yet on the other hand, the industry must change. I have never seen an industry where such little change is being reacted to so negatively.

      Part of the problem is,that optimists try too long not to see realistic outcomes to changes and then when change becomes overwhelming, they begin seeing too many things as negative. Like pessimists they are extremists viewing the world with colored glasses with the only difference being the color of that glass.

      A cynic in the classical sense can be an optimist, a pessimist, or a realist. I chose to be a realist on the positive side of that position so I see the problems but I also see a brighter day for the industry but it must change in order to get there. Will the number of HECM originators who leave the industry be significant in total this year and next? You bet.

      Many will leave because of 1) lower income due to changed compensation packages and 2) because they liked the feeling of knowing they saved a home for a senior but may even be repulsed by the image of primarily helping the mass affluent where the goal is to avoid the borrower providing the originator with an immediate feeling of gratification. They want that immediate gratification maybe not in every deal but in far more deals than we will see in the coming years. They feel far less gratified in helping those who have significant assets outside of the home. Some are also shaky and intimated in reaching out to this segment of seniors.

      By the way financial assessment is not FAT, it is an underwriting overlay.

      Good luck in finding that new career!!

  3. I feel that the Old Actor TV commercials coupled with call center “selling” HECM’s do the most damage to the reputation of the Reverse Mortgage. I do a lot of networking, and I hear over and over that seeing those commercials make people think that the product must be a scam. And we all know that the call center sales people are constantly pushed to get the biggest YSP no matter what’s best for the client. So when a misinformed story does get published, the public says, “Yep, I knew it was a scam.” Of course it is our job to be proactive and get the correct story out about the product, but is should also be our job to tell everyone, “Don’t listen to the old actor on TV and call the 800 number. You’ll get taken advantage of. You should meet know the person originating our loan. Know how to get hold of him or her whenever you want” How many of you agree with me?

    • Charles,

      You actually want us to agree to the following statement? “…it is our job to be proactive and get the correct story out about the product, but is should also be our job to tell everyone, ‘Don’t listen to the old actor on TV and call the 800 number. You’ll get taken advantage of.'” [sic]

      That quotation is not just irrational but it is also divisive and worthless. Please give some examples of where those calling into call centers like that of AAG with its “old actor” ads have been taken advantage of. Do not expect me to be nice or not make you feel as if you have not been thrown under the bus.

      I hope everyone reading your silly and ridiculous comment condemns it as much if not more than I have. For the record I have never worked for AAG or in any call center capacity for any other company but I have been a boots on the ground originator for ten years for a broker and a direct lender. And, yes, I believe a senior has a better chance of being best served by boots on the ground originators than an originator at a call center but that is my OPINION and it does NOT mean that I think callers are getting taken ADVANTAGE by calling “the 800 number.” That, sir, is about as close to libel as one can get.

      Also please work on your writing. Much of it is difficult to follow.

  4. My biggest obstacle in educating local media is the low financial acumen of the columnist. She is more focused on responding to questions about why I can’t seem to raise my credit score beyond 700, or why the bank won’t refund my overdraft charge, even though my deposit was made that day, etc. to issues like improving retirement plans, or “stretching” my portfolio so I don’t run out of money before attainment of my actuarial age. The HECM represents a paradigm shift for most people. Therefore many including those who claim to be “financial experts” resist learning new ideas, no matter how good they may be.

    • George,

      You are so right.


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