Multi-channel lender Open Mortgage announced Thursday that it has hired the core team of mortgage lending executives from the recently-closed Live Well Financial, including its former EVP Bruce Barnes, SVP of Operations Jim Cory and SVP of Wholesale and Correspondent Lending Joshua Moran.
Additionally, Open Mortgage also hired approximately 50 former Live Well sales and operations employees to expand Open’s retail, wholesale, principal agent and closed-loan seller mortgage channels.
The integration of former Live Well employees aligns with Open Mortgage from the perspective of both company operations and culture, according to Scott Gordon, founder and CEO of Open Mortgage.
“From an operations standpoint, Live Well Financial was operating with some of the brightest minds in the industry, and this falls well within our plan of expanding our reverse and wholesale mortgage capabilities,” said Gordon in an email to RMD. “We both share an appreciation for technology and integrating new advances to make for an easier and more enjoyable mortgaging experience.”
There’s also a cultural alignment, Gordon says, due to a shared belief in customer-centricity.
“Culturally, we align because our customers and employees are our first priority, and we both invest in fostering positive and healthy work environments,” he said. “We are expanding the Open Mortgage family and gaining some of the brightest folks in our industry.”
These personnel acquisitions also feed into a desire for the company to boost its national presence, and expand loan production along with the team, Gordon said.
“Gaining these new team members just furthers our goal to continue growing in our capabilities,” he said. “The more minds we have working towards this target, the better our coverage and service will be.”
As Live Well’s largest presence was in both the San Diego, Calif. and Richmond, Va. areas, the former Live Well personnel that have joined Open Mortgage also come from both places, Gordon said. In addition to picking up the company talent, Open Mortgage will be acquiring at least one of Live Well’s former office spaces.
“Open Mortgage is primarily acquiring the talent of the core team of mortgage lending executives, as well as sales and operational employees,” Gordon said. “We are excited to welcome them to our family, and will do everything possible to ensure the transition is seamless. Open Mortgage will take over the existing San Diego office space, but will open a new site in Richmond.”
With technology being a key alignment in the philosophy of Live Well and Open Mortgage, the platform that will be used by Open Mortgage going forward will be its own, Gordon added.
“Open Mortgage has been developing technology similar to that of Live Well, so we are excited to work together with the Live Well alums to develop the next generation platform together,” he said.
Echoing Gordon’s sentiment is Barnes, who described an intent to build off of the progress made by the executive team during their time at Live Well in order to help further expand the operations at their new company.
“We are looking forward to further advancing Open Mortgage as a leading retail, wholesale, principal agent and close loan buyer of reverse mortgages,” said Barnes in a press release announcing the hirings. “Since joining Live Well in 2014, we built an industry leading reverse mortgage platform funding over $5 billion in reverse loan volume. Our plan is to do this again only bigger and better.”
This latest move by Open Mortgage also follows on other recent expansion activity, including its recent acquisition of Premier Home Mortgage, which Gordon says further contributes to a vision of market expansion when combined with the addition of former Live Well personnel.
“From a long term perspective, we keep looking forward,” Gordon said in the email to RMD. “Live Well and Premier Home Mortgage bring with them some technologies and experiences that we will utilize here at Open Mortgage. This recent talent hiring will further our reverse and wholesale mortgage capabilities, while supporting our existing operations of being a top trusted lender in the country.”
This is the latest in a series of unfolding events concerning the abrupt closure of Live Well Financial, which RMD learned about on May 3. The closure was followed by more than 100 lay-offs at the company’s Richmond, Va. headquarters, along with the filing of a class action lawsuit by a former Live Well employee who alleged that the terminations made by the company were without cause and notice as required by law.
Open Mortgage currently sits at number 11 on Reverse Market Insight’s Top 100 Lender ranking for 2019 so far, standing at 187 loans representing 1.7 percent of the total market share according to figures released in April.