FirstBank Launches Reverse Division with 21 Former MetLife, Wells Fargo Staff

Tennessee-based FirstBank announced today it has launched a reverse mortgage division staffed by 21 former Wells Fargo and MetLife employees.

Company executives said they saw an immediate opportunity in the departure of Wells Fargo from the reverse mortgage business, as well as MetLife originators seeking opportunities.

FirstBank has been originating reverse mortgages in recent months, but has grown its staff and says it is planning for growth. The team is led by Gregg Maske, former reverse mortgage sales manager for Wells Fargo, and Dan Barksdale, another reverse mortgage veteran who will manage the Birmingham-based operations center.

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“Our staff has a deep understanding of how reverse mortgages work, and we’re excited about the opportunity in the market to grow and expand our business,” Maske said in a company statement.

The largest independently owned bank in Tennessee, the company has over $2 billion in assets will operate its reverse mortgage division in Alabama, Florida, South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee and has lending privileges in an additional 22 states—all through its mortgage lending arm FirstBank Mortgage Partners,

The bank sees reverse mortgage fitting into its current loan offerings and customer base, and the exit of Wells Fargo from the business served as the opportunity from a timing standpoint, Barksdale told RMD.

“First we were sold on the product, and the opportunity arose when Wells Fargo cut loose their sales staff,” he said, noting that the first 13 reverse mortgage division hires started September 1, following Wells Fargo’s June announcement it would be leaving the business.

FirstBank will originate its loans through a boots-on-the-ground sales staff across the region, with a sales goal of 60 reverse mortgages per month. They’re not too far off from that goal since they began originating, Barksdale said.

Written by Elizabeth Ecker

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