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Guaranteed Rate wants to build a bridge between reverse and forward mortgage channels

Just over a year after its further expansion into the reverse mortgage business, multichannel mortgage lender Guaranteed Rate has focused on bringing a wider swath of mortgage industry professionals up to speed with the dynamics of reverse, a trend that has unfolded in other parts of the industry as more forward lenders have expressed interest in the space.

But Ryan Ogata, executive vice president of reverse mortgage lending at the Chicago-based lender, added that his vast experience on the forward side has helped to facilitate the transition of other company professionals in getting up to speed with reverse lending characteristics.

As these professionals come aboard, RMD asked Ogata and the company’s chief marketing officer, Andrew Pohlmann, about what they’re focused on for the rest of the year to keep the momentum of reverse mortgage business going through the end of 2024. The answers largely come down to education and “bridge building.”

Referral partnership cultivation

During a session at The Gathering by HousingWire, Pohlmann mentioned an initiative that the company will pursue related to bringing more financial advisers into contact with the company’s reverse mortgage professionals. This is something Ogata is keen to develop further, he explained.

Ryan Ogata

“When I think about the reverse opportunity, I’m considering it in the context of the forward loan officer,” Ogata said. “If I can give a forward loan officer the ability to go out and get a new referral partner who is a financial planner, and use reverse as the excuse to reach out to that new potential referral partner, they can sell them something new and relevant in the industry right now. If they’re able to pick up a forward deal out of it, that’s great.”

Incorporating reverse into existing product offerings is very much the name of the game as Ogata sees it. The reverse product can act as a “stepping stone” for the company’s sales force to attract referral partners, including financial advisers.

“This, in turn, drives business on both the forward and the reverse sides,” Ogata said.

Part of this also lies in the way the company views its own reverse mortgage activities.

Pohlmann explained that the company doesn’t necessarily see Ogata as leading a reverse “division,” per se, but views him as a bridge between the forward mortgage professionals and the dynamics of the reverse mortgage product.

“I think the less loan officers start to think of it as this other division, this other group, and more as just another product option […], the better,” Pohlmann said. “It’s another thing within the arsenal. Although it is a separate business in some sense, we don’t want loan officers to think of it that way. It’s just another tool available to help them grow their business.”

Correcting misconceptions

Part of the push to involving more financial advisers, Ogata said, comes from the need to correct longstanding misconceptions about the product. Since Ogata is a relatively new addition to the reverse business, he feels well positioned to potentially break through those misconceptions in ways that connect with the people he is reaching out to.

Andrew Pohlmann

“There’s a misconception [where people believe there is] a predatory nature about the product, and no one is really familiar with all the consumer safeguards that are available, that make it, actually, one of the safest financial products in existence,” he said. “It has a bad rap, especially among financial planners.”

Guaranteed Rate developed materials aimed at correcting the misconceptions that financial advisers may have about the product — including potential product applications, consumer safeguards that have been introduced into the program by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and other regulators, and how these additions work.

“It’s very similar to what we provide for loan officers on how the loan product actually works,“ Ogata explained. “We submitted that deck to the CFP Board, and they gave us a thumbs up, qualifying it for continuing education. That’s going to be a big part of our push.”

Pohlmann and Ogata added that this step will be coming soon, and it will be a notable part of the company’s broader push into the reverse mortgage sector.

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