Ryan Ogata was appointed as Guaranteed Rate’s new reverse mortgage lending EVP last month, and previously told RMD about what he feels is a “market creation” opportunity that could come from expanding the reverse mortgage product’s presence in the company’s product suite.
Company CMO Andrew Pohlmann added that a generally purchase-centric posture by Guaranteed Rate could naturally be applied to its reverse mortgage division going forward.
To get a better understanding of how important under-used products will be alongside the current reverse mortgage landscape, and the company’s wider goals for its bolstered reverse division, RMD discussed these and other issues with Ogata in the Q&A below.
Chris Clow: HECM for Purchase is foreign even to a lot of people who are in the reverse mortgage business. Does Guaranteed Rate plan on trying to expand the ability for people to connect with an H4P loan?
Ryan Ogata: Absolutely, 100%. I was reviewing some statistics on just how large the boomer demographic plays into the existing housing market. The statistic I was looking at was that 39% of all purchase transactions in this climate are being done by that demographic, and talk about just a very relevant product for that segment that I think is being underutilized.
Clow: Late last year, a major industry lender and Ginnie Mae issuer declared bankruptcy, a lot of talent moved to some other companies and their securities portfolio was assumed by Ginnie Mae.
But we’ve also seen the top-level lender in the space merge with a competitor, and people are concerned about liquidity in the reverse mortgage space. How do you assess the business climate for this industry specifically, and how do you hope to make a difference in it?
Ogata: We’re at the initial stages of what it is that we’re looking to accomplish. We’re not known as being a big reverse lender, yet. So a lot of these industry headwinds that you’re describing, frankly, we just don’t currently have that much exposure to them by virtue of the fact that we haven’t been a big player in the space.
So, I look at it as being a very opportune time to enter the business, given everything that’s going on. We want to go in a different direction with the product, but […] it’s going to take us some time to ramp up and have the same volume. That will be a great problem to have, frankly, to navigate these issues that are going to become really relevant for us.
Clow: But that is part of the equation, I assume, is that despite those potential challenges, there’s a determination to press forward.
Ogata: Yes. Again, we’re No. 2 in the forward space and I want to be No. 1 in the reverse space. And I’m very fortunate to be at a company that has a very strong track record of great marketing. There are very talented people throughout the organization, and I have the benefit of leveraging them to help catalyze this project going forward.
Clow: Are you looking at how you’ve made a place for yourselves in forward as a path to carve a place for yourselves in reverse? Or, are you taking a more specialized approach to it? How does that come together?
Ogata: I would say there’s probably multiple approaches that we’re going to be pursuing simultaneously. We, as a forward originator, need to continue to add value to our sales force. They would not remain loyal to us if we got complacent there.
So as I look for opportunities for a traditional forward originator to get to understand the product and add it into their standard arsenal of programs that they offer on a consistent basis, that is part of the equation and what we’re looking to accomplish.
There’s also the repositioning of the product, going away from the “loan of last resort” [and instead putting] it into place as an early part of the larger financial picture. Emphasizing why it makes sense to get this loan even when we don’t need it, [to use] as another bucket of funds to draw on. We’re pursuing multiple directions at the same time.
Clow: How about staffing? Are you okay with where levels are at right now, or are you looking to expand?
Ogata: We are looking to right-size when it makes sense for us. We’re very practical as an organization. It’s not a situation to “build it and they will come.” We want to get some revenue coming in and expand when it makes sense to do so.
Clow: What do you think our audience and the wider reverse mortgage industry should know most about Guaranteed Rate’s expanded entrance into the reverse mortgage business?
Ogata: We do a lot of good in the mortgage space, I think. We hold ourselves to a very high professional standard throughout the industry, and I would expect that same kind of quality attributes to permeate into our ambitions for reverse.
Clow: Is there anything else you’d like to add as a final thought?
Ogata: It’s an exciting space to enter into! I look at coming from the forward space, especially at a company like Guaranteed Rate, and seeing the resources that are available to the forward loan officers that we offer, including the technology.
[It’s clear that] the reverse space has a long way to come to get [to where the forward space is]. I’m really excited to be a leader at a major company that can help push the industry forward, meaning the larger industry and not just our company alone.