With implementation of the financial assessment just over a month away, the new rules’ impact on reverse mortgage counseling agencies — as well as the industry at large — has yet to be seen. 

But industry stakeholders agree it will place a greater demand on counseling agencies’ resources, raising ever-looming funding concerns as agencies ramp up training efforts to prepare for the financial assessment’s March 2 implementation date. 

 

While the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) continues to roll out guidance and planned February training around the financial assessment’s implementation, counseling agencies are already allocating extensive resources to their own training—as best they can.

“The greatest impact will be the training piece of it,” says Sue Brown, vice president of reverse mortgage counseling with ClearPoint Credit Counseling Solutions, noting that ClearPoint will participate in training provided by HUD and NeighborWorks, and will also schedule internal trainings to supplement the industry training. “I would anticipate that each counselor will participate in several hours of training and testing over the next four to six weeks.”

Training is a top priority for all agencies as they prepare to assist clients after the changes are implemented, says Bruce McClary, vice president of public relations and external affairs for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC). 

“Our member agencies have invested considerable time and resources to help prepare participating staff,” he says, adding that “the cost of preparation has been mentioned as a common challenge.”

While agencies are beefing up training efforts to prepare for the financial assessment’s implementation, some counselors are expressing concerns that counselor-specific guidance regarding the new rules hasn’t been issued soon enough.

“I will be taking an upcoming webinar – primarily designed, it appears, for servicers and underwriters – but so far there has been little provided so we, the counselors, can be adequately prepared,” says Ed Beckstrom, of Illinois-based Consumer Credit Counseling Services (CCCS). “Also, there have been no changes that I have seen in information and other tools provided to counselors to share with clients regarding reverse mortgages. I feel current information is dated and might be misleading to those we provide the information to.”

HUD did not respond to requests for comment by the time of publication.

Written by Cassandra Dowell