Are Banks Better Poised to Gain New Reverse Mortgage Talent?

When Wells Fargo announced it would close its reverse mortgage doors last month, it made note of its 1,000 reverse mortgage team members, and said they would be provided with opportunities to apply for other open positions within the company’s 80-plus businesses.

Ditto Bank of America, when it shut down its reverse mortgage business in February, leaving 600 former reverse employees to reapply or find new jobs.

And while many lenders in the current climate have come to see the exits as an opportunity, many in the industry still wonder what will—or has—become of the 1,600 or so employees who previously worked as reverse mortgage originators or in operations at the large banks. Since most in the business have a deep connection to the product and the seniors they work with, it’s likely a large number would like to remain in the industry, if possible.

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Some are aggressively pursuing new hires, but still others are cautious about potential culture clash that might take place between those who are accustomed to working for a huge national brand, and those at a small, independently-run origination shop. Licensing is another issue, which may mean chartered banks are in the best position to gain, as they do not require state licensing for individual originators.

“I think this is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” says Joe Hansler, national manager for reverse mortgage lending, First National Bank. “Hundreds of well trained and qualified reverse mortgage professionals are looking for a new home today as a result of the abrupt departures of Bank of America and Wells Fargo, and First National Bank is a great fit for those that wish to stay in the industry as our corporate culture and structure is very similar.”

The bank is well positioned, Hansler says, in being able to provide a new home for originators without the burden of NMLS testing. He has already begun to recruit following the recent exits, and has seen success in the short time period that has elapsed.

“We’ve had an overwhelming response in our efforts to attract originators from the Wells Fargo reverse mortgage team,” Hansler says. “They are a very impressive group, and we hope to make the most of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and partner with the industry’s elite originators.”

Being a non-bank, Reverse Mortgage Solutions says it has had great success in building its team following Bank of America’s exit from the business in February, although the training and licensing aspect took time.

“We are always interested in hiring as much talent as we can,” says Mike Kent, senior vice president of RMS. “We learned that it’s a little more of a transition than we’d thought,” he says of former Bank of America employees that RMS has hired in the interim. “We’ve just about completed getting everyone on board, through all the systems and processes necessary.”

Kent says that on average, the training and licensing takes roughly a month, including all the necessary education, testing and getting the license issued. Internally, it may take the company as little as two and a half weeks, but the processing on the state level can add some time to the hiring process. Overall, he says, the company has been satisfied with the time it takes to get a former bank originator on board.

Once the licensing is in place, it comes down to culture and company process.

“Is the culture they’re coming from the same as the culture they’re going to? Some may be more the shoe leather type, in generating business. Others may be used to tapping distribution channels from the lender, where it’s more of a captive audience. If I’m working for Joe’s mortgage shop…I can’t do that,” says Mike Gruley of 1st Financial Reverse Mortgages.

“It might be a culture shock,” Gruley says. “Other than that, there are some great originators out there.”

Written by Elizabeth Ecker

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