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NAF’s Shannon Robinson updates the status of reverse mortgage business in 2024

Multichannel lender New American Funding (NAF) is going big on reverse mortgages.

As already evidenced by its ambitious new marketing campaign, “Old Wives,” the company is also aiming to streamline its existing presence in the reverse mortgage market. And it seeks to expand the number of available loan officers and strategic development tools to continue building on the momentum that company executive say they’re seeing in the space.

To get a better picture of these initiatives and priorities, RMD sat down with Shannon Robinson, vice president of reverse mortgage lending at NAF, to gauge the way business is going as the industry navigates both broader mortgage headwinds as well as those unique to the reverse side of the business.

Chris Clow/RMD: We’re quickly approaching the halfway point of 2024. How would you say business is going?

Shannon Robinson: It’s going very well. We’ve just recently added a new strategic business manager to our division. Her name is Lorraine Geraci and she has joined us to continue evolving our relationships within the company. We’ve done a lot of awareness and education work within New American Funding, educating our traditional loan officers on the opportunity of working with a reverse mortgage.

Shannon Robinson

That initiative bloomed last year and really took off. Now they’re asking, “How can I fold this into my conversation, my presentation, when I’m meeting with my B2B clients?”

Clow: How does your team approach bringing these traditional loan officers up to speed with reverse?

Robinson: What we’re doing is educating those traditional loan officers, and then we’ll be bringing in a reverse specialist to continue scaling that. We’re continuing to grow at New American Funding on the traditional side, and bringing in new reverse players and a strategic business manager like Lorraine is allowing us to get that education out faster.

They’re very busy right now and not necessarily experts on reverse, so we’re trying to arm them with enough information to have a good conversation and then partner with our reverse team to help with that client.

Clow: Have you been satisfied with the way that’s gone so far? How would you say it’s tracking right now?

Robinson: It’s really taken off. Having Lorraine join us is really exciting. We’ve had quite a few new players. Our goal is to double our headcount from where we ended in 2023, and we’re feeling really good. By the end of Q2, we’re halfway there and on par to hit our goals for the year.

It’s still a challenging time; rates didn’t do any favors for anybody. But what’s been great here at NAF is that we’re growing. We’re continuing to grow in this difficult time.

Clow: We spoke a bit about one of those new things (the marketing campaign) already. What else have you been trying?

Robinson: People are trying new things, like the ‘Old Wives’ campaign, as you mentioned. We really stepped in with the partnership we have at NAF, getting the reverse team in front of traditional loan officers. Those traditional loan officers have been such a blessing. We’re able to hand over traditional deals to them, and they’re working with us on the reverse piece.

We’ve been in growth mode since we started the reverse division, and I don’t see that slowing down. We’re on track to hit our goal.

Clow: What would you say helps guide the approach to recruiting new people?

Robinson: First and foremost, culture is everything at New American Funding. We like to say it’s invitation-only. When we’re recruiting for the reverse division, we’re looking for folks we may have worked with in the past but also those who are producing well. We want to see what that person is about. We do our due diligence when we’re talking with them.

We have a lot of people reaching out to us, saying they’ve seen us all over social media or heard about us from their colleagues. They ask if we can talk, so people are reaching out to us and we’re having conversations. It really comes down to whether they fit our culture. This isn’t for everyone, but we want to welcome those who fit our culture and can be a good match.

Clow: There are obviously a lot of challenges out there in the broader mortgage industry, and reverse has its own share of challenges. How do these play into the recruiting efforts?

Robinson: We understand that it’s a difficult time. We see other businesses having to make tough decisions. If we have the opportunity in the reverse team to take on other players, maybe in processing, licensing, operations or the business side, we’ll explore it. However, we are also very aware of the market, and cautious not to grow too fast and overextend our support.

We’re keeping a somewhat flat leadership organization, bringing on loan officers who truly want to be here and continue to provide the products that we offer. But I will say, it’s invitation-only. We want to maintain the culture that NAF has built over the past 20 years.

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