Reverse pros talk shop on keeping business moving in 2023


Reverse mortgage professionals have different perspectives based on their unique markets and experiences, and that’s true of industry pros like Rich Pinnell of Primary Residential Mortgage, Inc. (PRMI) in Redding, Calif. and Laurie MacNaughton of Atlantic Coast Mortgage near Washington, D.C.

When asked about thoughts they had to keeping business moving in a tough year, each had different ideas. However, one common theme that emerged is that improvement for 2023 starts with the individual approaches by reverse mortgage professionals.

Consistency and belief in the product

Pinnell doesn’t mince words when asked about what he wants people to keep in mind regarding business in 2023 so far.

“If I had a secret, I wouldn’t tell you! I’d use it myself,” he said, laughing.

Still, consistency counts for a lot. Pinnell said he’s seen slowdowns and is sure the current one will pass — just as they have before.

Rich Pinnell, reverse mortgage branch manager at Primary Residential Mortgage, Inc.
Rich Pinnell

“It’s the old thing, you have to get up every morning and go to work,” he said. “And if you do that, it may be slow for a while, but you just have to keep your head up and be positive about the fact that this is going to work. It always has, whether we’re going to be down for one, two or three months. It doesn’t matter.”

Being present when a senior has a need that can be met with a reverse mortgage counts for a lot, but Pinnell is also open about how he’s generally optimistic by nature.

Getting a name out to the community

“I’m always a guy where the glass is half full,” Pinnell said. “That doesn’t change in times like these. Even more, I’m confident, and I’m certainly old enough to recognize that we go through these cycles on a regular basis. Am I concerned that it won’t come back? Sure, I think a lot of people have those concerns. That doesn’t mean you get down on it.”

Sticking with what works is never a bad idea, Pinnell said, but if a situation won’t allow for it — and if a business lull is persistent enough to for downtime — remaining productive can make a big difference.

“If it’s a situation where you can’t spend the money to do what you used to do, find a different way to get your name out there,” he said. “Go volunteer. If you’re so slow that you have nothing to do, go volunteer and help a nonprofit out someplace in your town. Because you know what? That’s going to get your name out in front of people, and then people are going to look for you when they have a need.”

Going with your gut

When asked about what advice MacNaughton might have for a reverse professional to keep business moving, her teaching instincts come out.

“Around 2007-08 when I first got into this business, things were looking pretty rocky in the economy,” she said. “I started going into in-home care provider offices and teaching about reverse mortgages, and [a fellow professional] said to me that I was wasting my time, telling me they tried talking to in-home care providers for years and it just didn’t work.’”

Reverse mortgage specialist Laurie MacNaughton of Atlantic Coast Mortgage.
Laurie MacNaughton

Looking back, MacNaughton said the professional should have specified that their efforts didn’t work rather than trying to discourage someone else from seeking a referral partnership.

“What [that professional] should have said is, ‘I tried that for years, and it didn’t work for me. I’ll be interested to see if it works for you,’” MacNaughton said. “And for the next several years, in-home health care providers were the number one referral partner [I had] before I really got my sea legs under me and figured out how to work with elder law attorneys, real estate professionals and financial advisors. And I think sometimes you have to go with your gut.”

Market analysis

MacNaughton has also seen colleagues who try to post up and speak to seniors in continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) because they can encounter a lot of seniors there, but there are some key details about a place that her peer may be overlooking.

“People in the CCRCs, almost by definition, have already sold the property,” she said. “So what would I say to my reverse mortgage colleagues is, take a few days and really do a serious market analysis of where the people are that you want to talk to. Ask yourself where your own gifts lie, and then how you are going to get to the people you really want to talk to. Are you playing to your strengths?”

Sometimes it requires a hard look at your own skill set — and doing what you can to cater to it effectively, she says.

“If you’re in this business, you probably have analytical skills,” she said. “Use them, and then write up a good game plan.”

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