Mahwah, N.J.-based top 10 reverse mortgage lender and servicer Longbridge Financial recently announced the launch of a new field sales channel, as well as the addition of a reverse mortgage industry veteran to lead the channel. To get a better idea of Longbridge’s assessment of the business environment that led to the division’s launch, RMD sat down with Melissa Macerato, chief revenue and marketing officer for the lender.
The launch of the channel arrives on the heels of generally increased volume levels for the reverse mortgage industry, and the announcement that one of the lender’s chief investors — Ellington Financial — intends to acquire its remaining, unowned stake from Home Point Capital.
Why the time was right for Longbridge’s field sales channel
While the launch of a field sales channel was always the intention of Longbridge, the company wanted to ensure that they were well-positioned before actually putting the plan into practice, Macerato said. The timing seemed to be right in the wake of major product developments that the company has developed and deployed, as well as the attention it gives to employees.
“This is a good time at Longbridge because we have built a strong operations platform and a full suite of proprietary products to be able to successfully serve the needs of the field sales loan officers, their referral partners and their clients,” Macerato told RMD. “We have a solid foundation to be able to successfully succeed in this channel; with our proprietary products, competitive compensation and benefits plan, and unmatched operations group. The final piece was when we had the opportunity to bring on board such a talented sales leader to take that final step to move forward.”
That sales leader is Melanie Parks, an experienced reverse mortgage industry veteran who comes off of nine years at industry-leading lender American Advisors Group (AAG) as VP of its national field sales operation in the western region. Prior to joining AAG, Parks served as the area reverse mortgage sales manager for the western region at the company now known as Liberty Reverse Mortgage, and had also previously served in reverse mortgage sales roles at MetLife and Financial Freedom, respectively, going back to 2003.
The scope of the business currently being done by Longbridge should be positively impacted by the channel’s launch, especially considering the areas in which the company looks to have an impact in expanding the scale of the reverse mortgage business it creates.
“Our goal is to help provide seniors with the education and opportunity to take a reverse mortgage in any place they are now looking for a mortgage or financial advice,” Macerato says. “A field sales channel is really the third leg to our sales stool; with a large wholesale channel and a strong and growing call center team, the field sales channel was the important third component. We continue to develop a variety of partnerships and business development activities where having this channel will be instrumental in successfully launching those initiatives.”
Potential headwinds in field sales for Longbridge, getting the word out
There are certain headwinds in the space, which Longbridge aims to mitigate through the hiring of additional loan originators. However, considering the experience between Macerato and Parks, the company does not appear to be overly concerned about long-term field sales headwinds, she says.
“Having both Melanie and me with years of experience running large field sales groups at the biggest reverse mortgage lenders, we understand what it takes to be successful in this channel,” Macerato explains. “We have put significant work into ensuring we have a strong model to support the team. We plan to grow strategically with experienced reverse mortgage professionals to start, but over time to enhance our strong LO training program to help new salespeople enter the reverse mortgage industry.”
Having a dedicated focus on the reverse mortgage business is also a big component of the company’s confidence in launching the new channel, she said. One of the ways that the company is aiming to get the word out about its plans is in a series of in-person meet-and-greet events taking place in four cities across three states: Chandler, Ariz.; Sacramento, Calif.; Seattle, Wash.; and Irvine, Calif.; respectively.
The events are designed to allow each area’s reverse mortgage professionals the chance to speak directly with Longbridge’s leadership team, offering information to any industry participants interested in the company, Macerato says.
“These events are meant to be a meet-and-greet with potential candidates so that they can get to know some of the senior leaders in the company including Chris [Mayer] and me, as well as our operations and marketing leaders,” she explains. “We want people to get to know us and learn about Longbridge, our view of the industry, our plans for supporting the new field sales channel, and other growth opportunities within our company for the future.”
When asked about what the reverse mortgage industry at-large should most take away from the launch of the new channel, Macerato says that Longbridge’s efforts to bolster its national presence on the back of the new channel’s launch show the effort it is placing into its industry expansion efforts.
“We are incredibly excited to bring this channel to market at this time at Longbridge,” she says. “We have worked hard to create an amazing organization that truly values everyone and we know how much the field channel brings to this industry. We are thrilled to be able to work with some of the best and the brightest minds in the reverse mortgage market. Longbridge has a national presence so we are enthusiastic about putting reverse experts into key markets across the country.”