Finance of America Reverse (FAR) announced on Thursday that it has entered into an educational program with Stanford University research arm the Stanford Center on Longevity (SCL), an organization designed to foster thinking and action on issues related to longer life by pooling the resources of academic, business, government and nonprofit leaders.
FAR has joined the SCL’s Corporate Affiliate Program, in which the company will support research that helps retirees and pre-retirees to more effectively plan for their post-working years. The program’s membership extends from FAR’s stated mission to “help address the retirement crisis in the U.S. and provide solutions that can bridge the funding gap many Americans face in retirement,” according to a company statement.
Nature of the program
By becoming a corporate affiliate with the SCL, FAR employees will receive virtual briefings, which are designed to enhance employees’ understanding of SCL research efforts and how the yielded information will apply to the customer base served by FAR. The root of the program stems from the common goals of both organizations according to Kristen Sieffert, president of FAR.
“Achieving financial independence in retirement is difficult and, unfortunately, for too many Americans has become nearly impossible,” Sieffert told RMD in an email. “FAR believes that every person deserves an opportunity to live their best lives in retirement, and we are focused on providing a holistic solution to help them get there that is underpinned by sound research, education, and financial tools.”
The ongoing issues around American retirement help to make a program between FAR and the SCL an optimal combination, Sieffert added, as FAR has expressed hoped that its products for seniors can help address retirement concerns in the U.S.
“By ensuring that retirees and pre-retirees have access to the kind of trusted and insightful research that is synonymous with SCL, we are providing them with an important ingredient in a well-balanced retirement strategy that often goes overlooked,” she said. “FAR will continue to explore new opportunities to support research and education as we seek to empower people to achieve financial independence and get to work on their retirement.”
For the SCL’s part, adding FAR as a corporate affiliate makes for a welcome addition to its list of partners, since the company has demonstrated interest in proliferating practices which help to promote longevity, according to a leader at the organization.
“We welcome and foster engagement with industry collaborators to solve important problems of aging,” said Martha Deevy, SCL associate director and senior research scholar in the announcement of the program.”[W]e welcome FAR to our group of collaborators, interested in investigating how people can live long, healthy, financially secure lives.”
Interaction with industry educators, resources for customers
In addition to some commonality between the goals of SCL and FAR, the insights that the organization will be able to provide to the lender will help allow FAR to take broader considerations into account when crafting future products and services, Sieffert explained.
“[SCL’s] research provides valuable insights that will help FAR think beyond the financial services framework when it comes to considerations that impact aging and longevity,” she said. “This dynamic view of retirement is an important element of our expanding suite of products and services that will create more value for our customers to help them achieve their goals.”
The program will also help provide FAR’s industry educators with additional resources about research aims and initiatives designed to further meet the needs of Americans at or approaching retirement, Sieffert adds.
“We expect FAR’s senior leadership and Retirement Strategies team will be closely involved and will participate in SCL’s different programs and activities conducted at Stanford,” she explained. “Our goal is to learn as much as we can from the amazing work being done at SCL and to share those learnings with our team, our partners and our customers.”
FAR employees can expect that the new program to provide them with a broader view of aging in America, even if the information they receive is beyond the scope of financial services, Sieffert said. There will also be opportunities to connect with thought leaders which may have been less accessible to FAR previously, including academic faculty at Stanford itself.
“FAR believes that a holistic approach is the right prescription for retirees and pre-retirees, and that includes education and research, not just financial tools,” she said. “SCL’s virtual briefings, webinars, annual affiliate symposium, and other events will allow our team to impart the wisdom gleaned from SCL’s research to FAR’s customer base. They will also provide opportunities to build relationships with Stanford faculty and network with other business leaders so we can continue to uncover new and innovative ways to improve retirement outcomes.”
Sponsorship of SCL
In addition to serving as a corporate affiliate partner, FAR will also sponsor two of SCL’s ongoing initiatives, including a competition and an ongoing research project.
“The Design Challenge” is a competition open to global university students who desire to design and create products and services that serve the purposes of longevity, and optimizing longer lives for people. In addition to its sponsorship, a representative of FAR will serve as a judge at the competition.
The company will also sponsor a research initiative of SCL’s called “The Sightlines Project,” which investigates how well Americans are doing in three important areas of longevity over a period of time: financial security, social engagement and healthy behaviors.
Potential reverse mortgage industry impacts
Teaming with an organization like the SCL helps FAR to continue pursuing efforts to improve the state of American retirement, both through the use of its products and services as well as the broader scope beyond its own offerings, Sieffert said. Greater involvement with researchers and academics at SCL provides an additional opportunity to better aim towards those outcomes, she said.
“As a retirement solutions company, FAR believes that every person deserves an opportunity to live their best lives in retirement, and our support of SCL’s research aligns with our mission to help address the retirement crisis in the U.S. and improve retirement outcomes,” Sieffert added. “We are focused on providing individuals with holistic retirement solutions that are underpinned by sound research and education as well as financial tools.”
Recently, it was announced that FAR’s parent company – Finance of America Equity Capital, LLC – was set to make an initial public offering (IPO) to turn it into a publicly-traded company. Earlier this year, the company forged a partnership with the Financial Planning Association (FPA).
FAR is currently the largest HECM wholesale lender and the third-largest HECM lender overall operating in the business according to Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) endorsement data compiled by New View Advisors, having endorsed 3,506 HECM loans in the 12 months ending in September, 2020.