A panel of financial planning professionals shared insight with attendees of the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association conference in Irvine, California last week. By and large their message to reverse mortgage professionals was: education is paramount.
While some financial planners do understand the viability of reverse mortgage products and they ways in which they can work for clients, and even with the help of recent positive financial planning press on the products, there is still work to be done on the education front, they say.
“I was getting a lot of phone calls about reverse mortgages,” said Pat McClain, senior partner and founding principal of Hanson McClain Advisors of his early experience with reverse mortgages. “I initially had a negative attitude toward reverse mortgages. But I realized they weren’t the reverse mortgages of old; they actually help people if used correctly.”
McClain, who became one of the founders of Liberty Reverse, now advises clients on financial planning. While his mind was changed, there are still others who need help understanding how the products can work.
“In terms of clients’ perceptions, there is still a lot of work to be done,” says Jerry Clements, certified financial planner with Ameriprise. “For most there is a negative connotation when I talk to clients.”
But, Clements says, there are ways reverse mortgage professionals can work with financial planners to bring them up to speed. Some are working with reverse mortgage advisors already, others are not.
“A lot of us still have preconceived ideas. …hopefully over time with education [the reverse mortgage] could be something they integrate more as a tool to prevent portfolio failure,” he says.
While real estate professionals focus on location, location, location, McClain says, for financial planners, it’s education that counts.
“For us in the financial planning community, it’s education, education, education,” he says. “You may assume we understand how it works, but some do not have a clue. It’s a process. It may take years to develop the relationship, but if you do and there’s that trust, you will be top of mind. Our clients are asking about it and the more educated we are the more we can help our mutual clients.”
Looking ahead, McClain says, the reverse mortgage could be incorporated into financial planning calculators.
“Figure out as an industry how to bake calculators into financial planning software, so it shows up as a line item. It will make a difference in three to five years, whether they recognize it now, or not.”