Issues In Retirement Planning

Valuing Housing Wealth In Retirement

What is the role housing wealth and  of reverse-mortgages in our retirement security?

The American College of Financial Services and the Bipartisan Policy Center Wrap Up the 2018 Housing Wealth in Retirement Symposium

BRYN MAWR, Pa., March 29, 2018 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The American College of Financial Services, the nation’s largest non-profit educational institution devoted to financial services, and the Bipartisan Policy Center co-hosted the 2018 Housing Wealth in Retirement Symposium on March 23, 2018, in Washington, D.C.

The 2018 Housing Wealth in Retirement Symposium brought together researchers and policymakers from over 90 different Universities, research centers, policy institutes, and government organizations. The event was designed to facilitate collaboration among stakeholders – including regulators, NGOs, and the financial services community – with an interest in improving America’s retirement security through increased and improved mobilization of housing wealth.


The event kicked off with impassioned speeches by Professor Jamie Hopkins, Jim Lockhart, and Laurie Goodman. Professor Hopkins highlighted the need for increased awareness around housing wealth in retirement planning. Jim Lockhart noted that America’s retirement security was tied to effective use of housing wealth, while Laurie Goodman showed research illustrating how few Americans tap into home equity during retirement.

Research presented at the symposium by Dr. Wade Pfau, Pete Neuwirth, and Dr. Sacks highlighted the need to better incorporate home equity into retirement planning. Their research demonstrated the financial benefits of using reverse mortgages to help make a retirement more sustainable. Dr. Pfau demonstrated that replacing an existing mortgage in retirement with a reverse mortgage had tangible benefits. Dr. Sacks demonstrated how reverse mortgages can be effectively incorporated into a plan to increase the longevity of a retirement portfolio.

Protecting consumers and taxpayers

The event also looked at the importance of protecting consumers and the taxpayer. Jocelyn Wright noted that many consumers lack the proper knowledge base to make informed decisions about housing wealth and retirement planning. While Lori Trawinski of the AARP Public Policy Institute expressed concern around increasing numbers of reverse mortgage foreclosures and the need to ensure consumer protections exist to help borrowers throughout the life of the loan. Both Benjamin Mandel of J.P. Morgan Asset Management and Cynthia Hutchins of Bank of America noted the increasing need to pay attention to the multigenerational impact that ignoring housing wealth could have and the need for financial services to adopt a broader based view of a client’s entire balance sheet, including home equity.

Stephanie Moulton, a professor at The Ohio State University, presented research showing how credit score rates would improve the reverse mortgage process. Deborah Lucas, director of the MIT Golub Center for Finance and Policy, pointed to weaknesses in the current HECM program that make the product more expensive and less attractive than it could be. She outlined structural changes to the program that could address those problems and encourage greater utilization of reverse mortgages. Lastly, Chris Mayer, from Columbia Business School, showed how recent changes to the reverse mortgage program appear to be driving better outcomes, could reduce foreclosures moving forward, and have created a more sustainable product for Americans using a reverse mortgage and for the government.

With the country's significant retirement security challenge, we can no longer afford to leave housing wealth on the sidelines

According to Shai Akabas, Director of Economic Policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center, the event “opened a lot of people’s eyes to the critical role that home equity can play in retirement planning. Until now, whether due to complexity or other reasons, many policymakers and experts have overlooked this opportunity. With the country’s significant retirement security challenge, we can no longer afford to leave housing wealth on the sidelines.”

The Funding Longevity Task Force Founder and Chair, Shelley Giordano, who helped design the Symposium, says she was encouraged by “the intensity of the discussions and the broad range of organizations thinking deeply on how to extend and improve home equity extraction in retirement.”


A broad spectrum of research and policy initiatives regarding housing wealth, retirement planning, and reverse mortgages were presented by a variety of thought leaders at the symposium, including:

  • James B. Lockhart III, Co-Chair of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Commission on Retirement Security and Personal Savings
  • J. Mark Iwry, JD, Nonresident Senior Fellow in Economic Studies at The Brookings Institute
  • Laurie Goodman, PhD, Founder and Co-Director of the Housing Finance Policy Center at The Urban Institute
  • Lori Trawinski, PhD, CFP®, Director of Banking and Finance at AARP Public Policy Institute
  • Deborah J. Lucas, PhD, Director of the MIT Golub Center for Finance and Policy
  • Wade Pfau, PhD, CFA, Professor at The American College of Financial Services
  • Benjamin Mandel, PhD, Executive Director at J.P. Morgan Asset Management
  • Jocelyn D. Wright, MBA, CFP®, State Farm Chair In Women and Financial Services
  • Christopher Seabrook, Country Financial
  • Stephanie Moulton, PhD, Associate Professor at The Ohio State University
  • Christopher Mayer, PhD, Professor at Columbia Business School and CEO of Longbridge Financial
  • Pete Neuwirth, Independent Researcher
  • Barry Sacks, JD, PhD, Principal Attorney at Law Offices of Barry H. Sacks

To see the full details of the event and research please visit

To access the Research Slide Deck, please visit




About The American College of Financial Services
The American College of Financial Services was founded in 1927 and is the nation’s largest non-profit educational institution devoted to financial services. Holding the highest level of academic accreditation, The College has educated one in five financial advisors across the United States and offers prestigious financial planning designations such as the Retirement Income Certified Professional® (RICP®), Chartered Life Underwriter® (CLU®), Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) and education leading to the Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP®) certification. The College’s faculty represents some of the foremost thought leaders of the financial services profession. For more information, visit