Welcome to another year in the wonderful, evolving and growing world of the reverse mortgage industry! For several years I have attempted to provide The Reverse Review readers a window into the world of reverse mortgage servicing. This is the first column of a new year and many new faces have come into our industry. I never assume that you should know who I am! Allow me to introduce myself to those new to the industry and reintroduce myself to old friends.
I currently serve as president and chief operating officer of Celink, the nation’s largest independent reverse mortgage subservicer. I’ve worked at Celink for more than 17 years alongside my father, John LaRose, an acknowledged industry leader and a great role model and mentor in business and in life. I’m an active NRMLA member and currently serve as co-chair of the NRMLA Servicing Committee.
While daily servicing activities can be challenging and frustrating, it is also incredibly rewarding to be a vital part of an industry that has helped so many people retain the integrity of their homes, solve financial dilemmas and age gracefully in the place of their choice. Celink’s borrower care associates field questions and calls every day from your borrowers. Because of this, knowledge of the servicing function is indispensable for those originating reverse mortgage loans. When every lender is able to communicate effectively on servicing-related issues before their loans are closed, borrowers are more likely to be satisfied with their reverse mortgage experience.
For several years, I have had the great pleasure of participating as a panelist at several industry conference sessions addressing the important topic: What happens after the loan closes? It seems that at every session, no matter how rapidly we conclude our presentations, we find that there’s never enough time to answer the multitude of questions from the lenders in the room. Many questions go unanswered and it’s my hope that past and upcoming columns afford Reverse Review readers information and insight on the servicing function. A servicer holds a loan, and a borrower, for a lifetime. We meet human beings at a place in their lives of great accomplishment—and often great challenges.
Every conscientious person in the reverse mortgage industry knows that this product and its borrowers are very “high touch.” On the origination side of the business, we know about the extremely long sales cycle of this product. We regularly hear about the extraordinary lengths that lenders have gone to ensure that their borrowers are well taken care of. I once heard of a lender who halted a closing for several hours to drive their senior customer to the grocery store to pick up a few last-minute items they forgot for a dinner party! Once these items were purchased, they drove back to the closing and finished the paperwork.
The servicing community continues these extraordinary efforts with the borrowers long after each loan is closed. There is a delicate balance between developing and enhancing sophisticated “high-tech,” back-end operations and maintaining “high-touch” efforts, defined as answering each phone call and actively listening to and addressing the borrower’s questions or concerns.
I truly love servicing the reverse mortgage product for both its lenders and its borrowers, and I love answering questions about the servicing function. As used here, “love” isn’t too strong a word. The best careers come from finding what you love to do and finding someone to pay you to do it, and I am a fortunate man.
Upcoming columns will address the servicing function, how servicers are meeting the needs of a changing consumer base and other topical servicing issues. If you have a specific question about the reverse mortgage servicing function, please feel free to share it with me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll answer it in an upcoming column. An abundant and successful new year to all!