Reverse mortgage product education remains a key concern for the entire industry, and the need for lenders to find new ways to target borrowers is central. Finding new and novel ways to provide accurate information about the details of how the product may interact with a person’s financial situation seems to be a daily brainstorm for lenders, originators, brokers, and industry-wide PR professionals.
This also applies to reverse mortgage professionals outside of the US. HomeEquity Bank (HEB), based in Toronto, Ontario, is Canada’s leading reverse mortgage provider. While the product offered north of the border has specific and significant differences in the way American products work, HEB has taken steps to get in touch with borrowers in its own country has drawn significant attention from the American reverse mortgage business.
Whether it’s comedic-themed commercials aimed at empowering seniors or a campaign featuring a notorious scammer turned FBI informant to protect seniors from fraud, HEB has now turned its attention to the release of a directed book that aims to educate the public even more about what a reverse mortgage can do for seniors.
RMD sat down with HEB EVP for Marketing and Sales, Yvonne Ziomecki, to discuss why a book is the right next step for HEB and how the company hopes to connect with seniors in its market.
Describe reverse mortgages as a “home run”
The book, titled “Home Run: The Reverse Mortgage Benefit,” was co-authored by HEB CEO Steven Ranson and Ziomecki and describes both the reverse mortgage product and the environment in which it is located. This includes information on the latest developments in the Canadian real estate market. What does the “portrait” of a modern pensioner look like? the benefits of aging in place; and how reverse mortgages compare to alternative products available to the elderly population.
Part of the impetus for creating the book goes back to the way in which seniors in particular were affected by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic in 2020 and 2021, says Ziomecki.
“The pandemic has changed everything for everyone, and people have realized more than ever how important their homes are to them,” said Ziomecki in an interview. “They realize how important it is to be safe in this house and how best to get through retirement. What we want to achieve in this book is to talk to people about different things they need to consider. “
Some of these considerations that the book describes and that the prospect should make include taking stock of a financial situation before reaching retirement age, determining what retirement should look like in terms of living situation and lifestyle, and researching What Is Needed to meet those expectations, she says.
“A lot of people have said they want to downsize and a lot of people thought about going to a retirement home before the pandemic. That has changed, ”she says. “So it is very important to know and research your options. And then – because of the business we are in – we really think that the best option for the Canadian homeowners we serve is to stay indoors and age in place. The real estate market has done incredibly well despite the pandemic. “
Why does a book still make sense after the introduction of new media?
As RMD has extensively described over the past few years, HomeEquity Bank has often adopted new and novel approaches to customer contact, including some very original ones Television commercials That American reverse mortgage professionals responded very enthusiastically at the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association (NRMLA) 2019 Annual Meeting and Expo in Nashville, Tenn.
HEB also used former American scammer Frank Abagnale Jr. in a campaign titled “Stop the scam, “To educate seniors about how they can be attacked by scammers who try to defraud them of money by posing as government officials or credit card companies, or even members of their own family.
Due to the company’s history with new and novel marketing strategies and techniques, RMD seemed to be asking a question: Why publish a book?
“It’s a very good question,” replied Ziomecki. “Our average customer is 72 years old, even though we are 55+. This group stayed home during the pandemic, has isolated and is still under pressure. They enjoy looking for emails in their mailbox, they are very tactile, and there is a lot of credibility that comes from the written form. “
The number of pages for the book is 220, so it’s obvious that it can’t be read in one sitting, says Ziomecki. But that longer length gives someone who is determined to take it in, the chance to absorb all of the information at the reader’s pace while reading both informative chapters and customer stories along with expert advice, she says.
“It’s just a different medium and a different way of conveying our message,” she says. “And I think for this demographic, I hope they have it on the bedside table or on the coffee table. But I also hope that when they’re done, maybe they think, “This is for me” or “Maybe this is for my neighbor,” and they can borrow it. “
The Influence of the American Reverse Mortgage Industry
While HEB offers its own reverse mortgage loan that is tailored to the needs of Canadian seniors and complies with required local regulations, it is difficult to avoid “spilling over” American product concepts into the minds of Canadian consumers, says Ziomecki. While the book understandably focuses on Canada, it takes time to address misinformation and product myths that arose from the ubiquity of American reverse mortgages in North America.
“I think in the myths section we were really thinking about what myths we included and how we talked about them because we know the US product and our product are causing a lot of spillover,” she says. “Sometimes people watch US advertisements or read US newspapers and sometimes they get confused.”
An original version of the book actually contained a chapter on the specific differences between American and Canadian products, but ultimately it was decided to focus on what the book should be: an easy read for market participants to determine what you should put it in do their own life.
“You can go down so many rabbit holes and it’s just not necessary,” says Ziomecki. “This should be included. But of course it gets informed from the US market and of course the UK market because we stay connected and connected all the time. “
HEB launched “Home Run: The Reverse Mortgage Advantage” earlier this month. Further information on the book can be found in the HEB website.