Finance of America Reverse (FAR) announced earlier this week, the development of a new reverse mortgage education platform designed to equip the company’s wholesale partners with a wide selection of relevant, customizable learning resources and materials that can expand product knowledge and provide better potential service to customers .
The new platform, dubbed “Finance of America University” (FAU), is launching alongside additional new offerings, including the introduction of an enhanced “Policies and Procedures” (P&P) Documents Center on its “Xcelerate” Wholesale Portal.
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To determine how the program was conceived and what it takes for implementation and success, RMD sat down with Lorraine Geraci, VP of learning and development at FAR, to discuss how FAU was designed to enhance the educational practices of a major reverse mortgage lender. influence.
A choice-driven educational approach aimed at professionals
One of the core components that helps define the FAU approach compared to past efforts led by FAR is the amount of choice prospective students will have in taking up the material, explains Geraci.
“The audience is mostly sales and operations professionals. Individuals can choose classes they need at the time to increase their reverse knowledge, or they can also enroll in one or more learning pathways,” she says. “For example, the ‘New to Reverse Fast Track’ consists of 10 full online lessons to provide a new professional with a high-level overview and introduction to reverse sales.”
Additional pathways provide more educational materials on specific reverse-centric topics, including using loan origination systems (LOS) designed for reverse; guidelines for reverse mortgages including the financial rating; and general information about a reverse mortgage process that can normally be a bit of a learning curve for those new to the business. However, FAU is not just reserved for reverse mortgage neophytes.
“We also have advanced pathways for our more experienced partners that cover all of the products FAR has to offer, including EquityAvail and our HomeSafe suite,” she says, referring to the company’s traditional proprietary reverse mortgage and its new hybrid forward-reverse product. “We will continue to add these pathways and the different classes available based on the needs of our partners and our sales force.”
What makes FAU different from past educational endeavors?
In terms of how FAU differs from the other educational efforts FAR has led in the past, the addition of updates for each topic and the use of more engaging media such as video emphasizes that the company is making a concerted effort to meet people where they are in terms of how they prefer to learn new information, Geraci says.
“Our new learning management system FAU includes updates to all training resources and provides more structured learning paths, reporting and testing,” she explains. “It also has new engaging videos for quick module learning. With our new enhancements, wholesale partners can request specific pathways for their teams and ensure team members complete the pathways before selling reverse mortgages.”
Specifically, this effort is aimed at increasing professionals’ working knowledge of a wider variety of facts relevant to reverse mortgages, which in turn will hopefully translate into higher customer satisfaction, she says. In addition, FAR’s past educational efforts have also contributed to the way FAU was designed, Geraci says.
“The Learning & Development team has worked very hard over the past 9 years to create a library of learning resources for sales professionals and operations professionals. All resources were created by instructors who have all worked in the reverse industry for many years,” she says. “We started with one reverse sales professional who created the training from scratch. Since then, we’ve added dedicated sales trainers, coaches, and operations trainers who are constantly reviewing, updating and creating new educational materials for the needs of our employees and partners.”
This includes hiring professional educational designers who strive to make the content as engaging as possible, as well as a dedicated learning systems administrator responsible for maintaining various elements of FAU as a whole.
“The learning and development team has come together to create a perfect storm of informative, engaging and educational materials to support our employees, partners and the industry at large,” said Geraci.
How FAU was developed and how FAR defines its success
FAU is the product of a lot of time and effort from Geraci’s team, and every class that is part of the curriculum had to be developed in-house, she says. The choice previously hinted at includes more traditional, passive experiences like PowerPoint presentations for the student to watch at their leisure, or video content for someone who needs more engaging material to learn from, she says. After that, each class had to be identified for its best learning path in order to be properly implemented.
“The new improvements are the result of a desire to support our partners and our internal sales teams,” explains Geraci. “We received requests for structured learning approaches from some of our partners based on their respective needs. We also wanted to address the needs of our internal sales teams. Now we have an easy-to-use online education experience for busy professionals with built-in tracking, measurement and reporting tools.”
In addition to receiving direct feedback from those who use FAU, FAR will closely monitor the success of the program through responses obtained from surveys built into the courses. There are also “customizable reporting capabilities,” says Geraci, that allow companies and/or partners to track and monitor the progress of their loan officers.
“Exams and quizzes are built into specific courses, and in some cases, a student cannot proceed to the next section without passing a knowledge check/quiz,” she says. “We will continue to gather feedback from our partners and collaborators to measure FAU’s success and will make adjustments to course offerings and other FAU features as necessary.”
CRMP courses, accountability
As is the case with several peers in the reverse mortgage industry, FAR provides courses that can be completed for credit to earn the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association’s (NRMLA) special designation of Certified Reverse Mortgage Professional (CRMP). Including that material in FAU only makes sense, says Geraci.
“We’ve been working with NRMLA on a variety of educational content for years and appreciate NRMLA, including some of our key lessons as part of the CRMP program,” she says. “So far we have 11 classes that we offer both through live instruction and online through FAU. Our virtual training modules allow us to confirm that individuals have assessed the online CRMP classes and provide attendance data to NRMLA to assist them in their designation. This offers more opportunities for professionals to receive the CRMP label.”
In addition, in announcing the new program, FAR specifically said that FAU will help ensure accountability in the learning process for reverse mortgage professionals. When asked to explain, Geraci brought up topics that many reverse mortgage professionals are probably fairly familiar with in terms of the larger industry’s reputation issues.
“As many people in the reverse industry know, it’s important to recognize the uniqueness of reverse mortgages and how different the reverse mortgage process is from conventional, term loans,” she says. “Educating more professionals about the specifics of reverse mortgages and how their customers can benefit from the different products will help the entire industry. We want to ensure that professionals are well versed in product knowledge, ethics and processes to ensure they represent our industry well. FAR is committed to providing compliant, approved learning resources for employees and approved wholesale partners through a variety of exciting platforms.”