Changemakers 2021: Harlan Accola, Nationwide Reverse Mortgage Director at Fairway – ReverseMortgageDaily

Being a change agent in an trade as usually obstinate to development because the reverse mortgage enterprise can typically be irritating, however these extremely devoted to the enterprise often take the time to know the upside: the power to assist seniors have a safe retirement is a crucial element of this enterprise, and one which makes it far totally different from the ahead mortgage sector.
That’s one of many main attributes that drives the trade advocacy of Harlan Accola, the nationwide reverse mortgage director at Fairway Unbiased Mortgage Company. With a broad ahead mortgage footprint in quite a few branches throughout the nation, Fairway could also be uniquely suited to the duty of increasing the proverbial “umbrella” of the reverse mortgage trade by getting extra forward-facing mortgage professionals speaking in regards to the potential advantages {that a} reverse mortgage might current to some shoppers. Accola believes this and is pushing these concepts in his work.
He additionally strongly believes within the viability of reverse mortgages for anybody at or over the age of 62, and makes no bones about the truth that his persistence can put on skinny for anybody who tries to say seniors can’t profit from the product class, particularly if such voices come from inside the trade itself. Due to this tireless work and the idea he brings to the desk at his firm that now stands as a prime 10 reverse mortgage lender, we’re very happy to welcome him into the 2021 class of Changemakers.
Harlan Accola: Individuals are naturally resistant to alter. They get to a sure consolation stage. However this trade, I imagine – and I’ve been in it since 2003-2004 – has been extremely proof against any form of change. And due to that, not solely have we not grown, we’ve contracted, and a few persons are okay with that. And so I’ve to confess, I’m deeply disillusioned proper now within the willingness of the trade to alter the way in which that they do issues.
You understand, we’re nonetheless doing 50% HECM-to-HECM [refinances], churning the identical stuff over and over to the detriment of the trade. All people by some means thinks that’s okay, as an alternative of reaching out to new referral companions and new teams of individuals and new frontiers, whether or not it’s actual property, attorneys, monetary advisors, 55-plus communities, no matter it could be. They’re simply going again to the previous direct-mail days, when you’ll be able to mail x variety of items, you get x variety of prospects, and then you definitely goal these folks that may have a better rate of interest and do a bunch of [refinances].
This trade has been extra resistant to alter than most different industries.
HA: Yeah, not even shut. […] Till all people understands that this product is smart for everyone, we’ll stay stagnant. I [will turn] 62 myself subsequent 12 months, and the day I flip 62 I’ll be getting a reverse mortgage.
There’s a complete bunch of individuals in management positions at [reverse mortgage] corporations which might be over 62, and who haven’t gotten their very own reverse mortgage or haven’t gotten one for his or her dad and mom. There are folks over 62 on the Nationwide Reverse Mortgage Lenders Affiliation (NRMLA) that haven’t gotten a reverse mortgage. That’s ridiculous. Till we modify that mindset, how are you going to promote it to the lots, should you’re not even doing it your self?
And never even speaking to your personal dad and mom? That’s the largest factor that has to alter. It’s that mindset that claims “we’re going to promote that to folks.” A man simply advised me this week, “you already know, Harlan, it’s so much simpler to promote a reverse mortgage to anyone with a 600 credit score rating than to somebody with an 800 credit score rating.” Nicely, yeah, it’s so much simpler to promote a sandwich to a ravenous man, too. Nevertheless it’s in all probability a good suggestion to gather the advantages of your sandwich, so you’ll be able to promote it to folks that aren’t essentially ravenous.
HA: It’s all the above. [The reverse mortgage] has been referred to a variety of instances because the “Swiss Military knife” of retirement. Some folks say that they don’t want it but as a result of they’re not broke, so why ought to they get a reverse mortgage? Many purchasers have advised us that some folks contained in the trade are telling them the identical factor.
There’s a man who referred to as me up just a few years in the past, I’ll always remember it. I requested him simply what his future plans have been proper after he turned 62. He mentioned he’d in all probability work for an additional seven or eight years, after which he’d grasp it up. And I mentioned, “properly, happily, you’ll be able to journey off into the sundown with your personal reverse mortgage. When did you get yours?” He mentioned, “as many individuals as I’ve helped with this factor, I certain as hell hope I’m by no means going to want one.”
Nicely, that simply blew me away. It simply communicated to me that he actually doesn’t perceive what he’s promoting, and there’s lots of people on this trade that don’t notice it, both. It’s not nearly getting one to be an instance, however understanding it properly sufficient that you could even clarify to your partner why you’re getting one. I imply, my spouse has to signal the papers, too. I would like to have the ability to a minimum of promote it to my spouse to say, “we’re doing this as a result of we are able to use it for tax functions,” or “we are able to use it for rising our Roth conversions.”
We want to have the ability to promote this to our personal spouses, and our personal dad and mom. My spouse’s dad and mom are nonetheless alive, and so they nonetheless received a reverse mortgage as a result of I defined to them how nice it was 10 years in the past. Not as a result of I needed one other sale, however as a result of I needed to care for my family.
I don’t need this to return throughout as destructive, however I guess should you did a ballot of the variety of those who both did a reverse mortgage, or their dad and mom did one, it would even fall under 50% inside the trade. I may very well be fully unsuitable, and I hope that I’m. However why aren’t you utilizing your personal product? I imply, Ronald McDonald doesn’t store at Burger King. We’ve received an image of that in our coaching materials. Ronald McDonald eats so long as he’s hanging out at McDonald’s. I imply, if we’re not consuming our personal product, why didn’t we get that?
HA: I feel it’s primarily one factor, and that’s the true thought course of that this can be a product that may work for most individuals. That is for greater than 90% of individuals after they flip 62, and most of the people don’t imagine that. Even folks contained in the trade, they may query me in that. One in every of our department managers in Colorado, Christine Jensen, will persistently inform monetary advisors, “I dare you to ship me a consumer who’s over 62 that I can’t assist a bit bit or so much.” That’s the perspective the trade has to have, and so they don’t.
I feel that’s the single greatest factor holding us again is an absence of perception that this product works for lots of people. There’s a bunch of those who didn’t imagine that electrical energy must be put into homes, as a result of it might trigger fires. Positive it could possibly, however that doesn’t imply that you simply shouldn’t put it in each home. Lots of people have been in opposition to that change of mass electrification. And but, clearly, that’s a reasonably important factor at this level.
It was the identical factor with vehicles. When these began being offered, others mentioned that folks have been higher off with horses, as a result of horseless carriages have been an issue and so they broke down on a regular basis. “Horses are extra dependable,” they mentioned. I simply don’t suppose that folks have sufficient of a perception in our product. So, it actually comes right down to this concept that we’re lacking that strong, unwavering perception that our product is method higher than even we predict it’s.
HA: Nicely it’s not me, it’s our workforce. I imply, the rationale that Fairway preferred bringing me over is as a result of I introduced a workforce of those who knew about ops, coaching and advertising. We’ve expanded on that. A variety of corporations have that, however we definitely have a extra strong assist system, as a result of Fairway is all about assist. Fairway won’t do something and not using a complete lot of assist.
In the event that they’re going to make a change in a product or on a system, no matter they’re going to do, we now have our personal teaching firm. We’re coaching folks earlier than they ever begin with Fairway on a program referred to as Grit to show them how one can be mortgage officers earlier than they ever begin at Fairway, free of charge. We simply begin coaching them in what a profession being a mortgage officer or a processor is like. For those who don’t have assist, you would possibly as properly simply go run your personal dealer store, or be someplace else. That’s the primary factor.
However, the largest purpose folks come to Fairway and wish to keep right here is due to the tradition, which could be very arduous to duplicate. Each single morning, we get a narrative referred to as “maintain taking part in” by one of many workers that’s overcome some issues or simply bumped into difficulties. After which they stored going, and so they succeeded. The CEO frequently sends stuff out about coping with change, coping with negativity, being form to all people else that you simply work with, giving cash away, donating cash to Fairway Cares to assist folks which might be going by way of most cancers, or shedding a beloved one. We’re large on veterans, attempting to save lots of folks from PTSD. We’ve given away a whole bunch of hundreds of {dollars} in service canines to veterans, which has certainly been life-saving for them.
So, it’s about a complete lot greater than “that is only a mortgage firm, and also you come right here to generate profits.” What I used to be involved about after I got here is that I anticipated the corporate to be purchased out, due to its dimension. Nicely, that’s proper after they went to the Worker Inventory Possession Plan (ESOP). And I feel the ESOP is a really large assertion.
It’s not simply in regards to the cash and that you simply get inventory within the firm, nevertheless it’s additionally about the truth that we’re going to have the ability to protect this tradition as a result of we personal the corporate. Meaning we’re not promoting out to a unique entity that’s going to alter every thing.

Chris received his begin as an expert author speaking in regards to the leisure trade, however transitioned to the B2B enviornment by offering trade information to market researchers. He joined RMD in 2018 and HW Media in 2021, and when he is not overlaying the reverse mortgage trade, Chris enjoys films, comics, video video games and life together with his spouse and younger daughter.
Reverse Mortgage Every day (RMD) is the main supply for information and data overlaying the reverse mortgage trade. RMD is owned by HW Media.
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