Firm Believes in Very Selective Recruiting

Recruiting and training of reverse mortgage professionals should be "very, very selective," according to Atare Agbamu, owner of consulting company ThinkReverse, Oakdale, Minn.

Reverse mortgages are a different animal in the world of loan products, which can require more than three times as many documents as others, Mr. Agbamu said. Thus, "Empathy is important, [as well as a] capacity for patience," he said, noting that reverse mortgages require a "consultative, not transactional, approach to business" - in contrast to more standard mortgages. In addition, he believes that reverse mortgage teams should be comprised of those who have a voluntary interest in the business.

Mr. Agbamu has been offering three topical reverse mortgage training sessions that can be four hours long or longer. He charges for the sessions based on the time, the number of people and his expenses. Clients have included originators at a credit union and older American who have a potential interest in the loans. He also is currently scheduled to teach a community education class for Realtors, insurance agents and appraisers.

The first is on the "ABCs of reverse mortgages," a basic course that he said gives trainees information that is "important to know before proceeding to other areas."

The second is on marketing, a topic Mr. Agbamu described as being about how to "take a position in the mind of the borrower or in the mind of the consumer" for the products. He noted that this differs from both traditional mortgage marketing and U.S. marketing in general, both of which tend to focus on the needs of younger consumers rather than reverse mortgages' target market of "older adults."

"The real money is in the hands of those 40 [and older]," Mr. Agbamu said.

He said even when companies do market to older adults rather than younger consumers they often do it in ineffective ways that display a misunderstanding of their target audience. Studies show, for example, that older adults don't like being referred to as "seniors," the term commonly used to refer to them in marketing.

"The word 'senior' is going to be out of fashion," he said.

The third training session Mr. Agbamu offers centers on nuances of the document-intensive reverse mortgage process.

Reverse mortgages have been a challenge for the industry and even regulators to understand, because of their complexity, but are worth learning about - particularly when traditional originations are slower - because they hold so much demographic potential, he said. A number of studies show that wealth is trending toward being increasingly concentrated in the hands of older Americans, Mr. Agbamu said.

But, to date, the reverse mortgage market appears to be relatively small, he said.

"I don't think it's a very huge market yet," in part because there is "still a lot of learning to be done in the industry."

Among the roadblocks the lack of knowledge about reverse mortgages has created is a "capacity issue," he said, but added, he believes, "That is going to change." (c) 2006 Mortgage Servicing News and SourceMedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved. http://www.mortgageservicingnews.com http://www.sourcemedia.com