Forward Footprint Key to Mutual of Omaha’s Future Reverse Mortgage Growth

After acquiring top-10 reverse mortgage lender Retirement Funding Solutions (RFS) in 2018 and a change in ownership structure, Mutual of Omaha Mortgage is gearing up for the long haul in reverse mortgages. In part, it’s doing this through access to its network of 350 forward originators and its national presence.

After a period of transition following acquisitions and changes in ownership structures, the company is now well-positioned to thrive in the reverse mortgage space after an effective integration of different businesses, which will help provide for future collaborations between forward and reverse mortgage personnel. This is according to Shelley Giordano, enterprise integration at Mutual of Omaha Mortgage in an interview with RMD.

Unifying the company, exchange program between forward and reverse mortgages

A lot has transpired to bring the company to this point. In late 2018, Synergy One Lending — the company who owns Mutual of Omaha Mortgage’s reverse business previously known as Retirement Funding Solutions (RFS) — acquired some of the assets of Lombard, Ill.-based BBMC Mortgage, aiming to broaden its presence in both the forward and reverse mortgage markets. In announcing its acquisition, Synergy One lauded the marketing and origination team at BBMC.

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The following year, Mutual of Omaha Bank announced that it was to be acquired by CIT Group, in a deal which would not include the Mutual of Omaha Insurance company and by extension, Synergy One Lending/RFS. A few months later in November 2019, it was announced that the RFS brand would be retired and that the operations of the former RFS would continue as Mutual of Omaha Mortgage.

Now, all of the disparate moving parts from the other businesses operating within the proverbial “orbit” of Mutual of Omaha Mortgage have started to operate more closely together, Giordano says.

“It’s taken a while, but we’d had a legacy Mutual of Omaha [organization] and there was BBMC,” Giordano explains. “It’s taken a while to bring everybody together under one umbrella, and make sure that we’ve got common culture. But now, there are clear lines of leadership, and so we’re ready to cook on an exchange program.”

People who have been in the reverse mortgage business since the days of Wells Fargo’s and Bank of America’s time in the space likely recall what it was like to be able to more directly interact and work with forward counterparts under the same organizational roof, and the new exchange program at Mutual of Omaha has been designed to evoke similar efficiencies and collaborations, she says.

“We’re really looking forward to having that opportunity to work together,” Giordano says.

In numbers for the month of May that are inclusive of its reverse mortgage business, 3,313 families have been served leading to approximately $967 million in loan volume on both the forward and reverse sides, according to figures provided to RMD by Mutual of Omaha. 

The power of branding, future collaborations

The consolidation under the roof of Mutual of Omaha Mortgage — a time-honored brand with significant repute among consumers — will help to expand the reach of the reverse mortgage business by bringing the quality and recognition consumers expect from Mutual of Omaha more firmly into the reverse mortgage space, Giordano says.

“Our collective creed is that we want to help Mutual of Omaha customers, whether it’s insurance customers, financial planning customers, mortgage customers or reverse mortgage customers,” she says. “The goal is to help them protect the things that they care about, and achieve their financial goals. That’s the Mutual of Omaha mission statement.”

The addition of the time-honored brand and further integration with the forward mortgage side of the company also opens up the options available to both sides in terms of working together, Giordano says.

“It’s been wonderful to be able to say that we represent such a fantastic brand. And then looking forward to the integration with the forward side of the business, to be able to go into an office of ‘friendlies,’ as we call them, is fantastic,” Giordano says. “Many of us legacy people who’ve been around for a while, who were working at the height of the industry’s volume, worked a lot with forward folks. So, one of the things that is great is that you can work with referral partners together and just just add value.”

While Mutual of Omaha generally subscribes to the idea that forward and reverse mortgage-centric personnel, respectively, are best operating in their own arenas, the new level of communication possible due to the organizational integration will make it far easier to identify instances where a forward mortgage loan officer can refer a client to reverse if a situation calls for it. The same is true of the opposite scenario, Giordano says.

HECM for Purchase, 12-month volume

Particularly interesting for forward mortgage personnel calling on Realtor referral partners is the ability to use H4P that has been granted by the greater company integration, opening up housing to more people, Giordano says.

“Mutual of Omaha puts a lot of energy into the HECM for Purchase area, so I’m really looking forward to making sure that our forward partners know all about HECM for Purchase and what it means for builders,” Giordano says.

According to data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and compiled by Reverse Market Insight (RMI),Mutual of Omaha Mortgage under the Synergy One Lending name is the sixth largest reverse mortgage lender in the country by volume with 2,108 loans over a 12-month period ending in April, 2020. 74% of its loans come from the retail segment of the business.

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