Lender Rebrands Reverse Mortgage Team to Capture New Market Opportunities

Seeking a more “organic” pathway for growth as industry originations stagger and market uncertainty looms, the reverse mortgage division of one regional lender is rebranding itself in efforts to take advantage of collaborative opportunities with the company’s forward mortgage business.

This week, Plymouth, Mich.-based Success Mortgage Partners announced it has rebranded its reverse mortgage division as Reverse Mortgage USA. The company’s former reverse operations, which included 1st Financial Reverse Mortgages in Mich. and Franklin Funding in South Carolina, are now united under the new unified brand.

As part of the rebranding, Jon Maiolatesi of Plymouth, Mich., has been named Director of Operations and David Heilman of Charleston, S.C., has been named Director of Sales for Reverse Mortgage USA.

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The rebrand not only serves to bring both 1st Financial and Franklin Funding under one consistent banner, but is also meant to better align the reverse mortgage operations with Success Mortgage Partners in hopes of utilizing the relationships and loan officers the company has fostered in its forward mortgage segment.

“We wanted to rebrand alongside Success Mortgage Partners so there is a better understanding that we are affiliated with the company,” Maiolatesi told RMD.

It’s also an internal rebranding for the united reverse mortgage division, especially as it looks to grow its distribution channel through collaborations with Success’ forward mortgage personnel, particularly as it relates to the referral businesses they have established with non-mortgage professionals such as real estate agents and financial planners.

“Part of the goal is we’re trying to tap into some of [Success’] forward mortgage loan officers and get more of a relationship with that forward side,” Maiolatesi told RMD. “We want to roll out the rebrand internally to get an audience with people at Success and the people they do business with in their daily practices who we weren’t tapping into before.”

Success Mortgage Partners has over 500 employees, the vast majority of which the reverse mortgage operations of 1st Financial and Franklin were not connecting with prior to the rebrand. Conjoining the reverse mortgage operations under a singular entity now presents a greater opportunity to facilitate collaboration with the forward mortgage business.

“We feel strongly that the forward mortgage market needs this [HECM] product, and this is a turnkey way for Success to offer it,” Heilman said. “We already have the infrastructure in place to handle the volume, as well as loan officers.”

Growing volume ‘organically’

Doing business as Success Mortgage Partners, the companies ranked among the top-50 industry lenders nationwide with 48 Home Equity Conversion Mortgages year-to-date through July 2016, according to recent industry data tracked by Reverse Market Insight (RMI).

Compared to last year, the company’s production through the first seven months of the year is down 40%, but the reduction is characteristic of the broader reverse mortgage market today, where overall industry volume though July is roughly 16% lower than its year-ago level, according to RMI data.

With lingering policy changes to the HECM program currently awaiting further action from the Federal Housing Administration, the industry could face continued downward pressure on origination volume if adverse rules take effect this year.

By utilizing the forward side of Success Mortgage Partners as an additional distribution channel, Reverse Mortgage USA plans to use this strategy as an avenue to support its volume if the market environment becomes more challenging than it is today.

“It’s difficult to grow volume without going out and buying leads,” Maiolatesi said. “By having an internal distribution channel right at our fingertips, we can curb what’s going on in our [reverse] industry and create more organic volume, rather than spending a lot of money on marketing and leads.”

Reverse Mortgage USA is licensed to originate reverse mortgages in eight states, including Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Texas and Wyoming. Success Mortgage Partners carries licenses in all of these states, with the addition of North Carolina.

The Reverse Mortgage USA brand is not to be confused with the Texas-based lender of the same name, which was eventually rolled into American Advisors Group in 2014. Nor is the new brand an offshoot of Cherry Creek Mortgage’s reverse division, 1st Reverse Mortgage USA.

“As far as what we’re trying to brand, it’s off of the Success Mortgage Partners image—[the brand] is not trying to imitate anyone else out there,” Maiolatesi said. “It has been a plan of ours to roll this out and use this new identity to build off of the reputation that Success Mortgage Partners has built over the last few years.”

While the company aimed to establish a memorable name for the new brand, its main focus is the internal expansion of its capabilities

“We have a retail team; we certainly want to expand that, but our focus is to be a clear part of Success Mortgage Partners, which is growing by leaps and bounds on the forward side of the business,” he said. “We want to parlay that into more reverse mortgage opportunities.”

Written by Jason Oliva

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