Mahwah, N.J.-based top 10 reverse mortgage lender and servicer Longbridge Financial has announced the launch of a new field sales channel, adding reverse mortgage industry veteran Melanie Parks to lead the channel’s launch as VP and national field sales leader.
The field sales operation has been established in an effort to expand the company’s growth and sales channel diversity, and Parks is described as critical to the effort because of her high level of industry experience. The establishment of the new channel comes shortly after news that Longbridge is set to be wholly acquired by investment firm Ellington Financial, which has held an investment in the lender since 2014.
New field sales channel, its leader
In appointing Parks to lead the new field sales division, Longbridge has cited her experience and leadership skills as pivotal factors in choosing her for this key growth initiative.
“As a top producer with nearly 20 years of reverse mortgage sales and management experience and strong leadership skills, Melanie has an excellent reputation in building out highly successful outside sales teams,” the company said in its announcement of the channel’s launch.
Among her previous experience, Parks spent over 9 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.
Parks’ hiring at Longbridge stems naturally from its ambitions in launching a field sales division according to Melissa Macerato, chief revenue and marketing officer at Longbridge.
“Melanie is a wonderful addition to our team as she truly embodies Longbridge’s commitment to deliver home equity solutions that make a difference in the lives of our customers,” Macerato said. “She is a world-class sales leader with incredible knowledge and experience and a proven track record of recruiting, training, and retaining top sales talent. Melanie’s dynamic leadership style has been pivotal in motivating her team to exceed sales targets and goals. We are excited to have her leading our new Field Sales Channel.”
For Parks, the opportunity is exciting and allows her to professionally reconnect with previous colleagues, she explained.
“I am thrilled to join the Longbridge team and especially excited to work side-by-side with Melissa again,” Parks said. “I have a lot of respect and admiration for the way Melissa and the Longbridge team have grown the company from a start-up to a top 3 reverse mortgage lender. Longbridge has an exciting company culture, which I am very drawn to. They have big plans for the future, and I am looking forward to contributing to their success!”
Longbridge goals, regional meet-and-greet events
To allow for something of an industry debut, Longbridge will be hosting a series of meet-and-greet events across three different states on the week of March 14 to encourage interested parties to join the company. The events will take place in Chandler, Ariz.; Sacramento, Calif.; Seattle, Wash.; and Irvine, Calif.; respectively.
At the end of February, Longbridge announced that it will be acquired by mortgage investment firm Ellington Financial. The firm, which already had an existing equity interest in the lender, will acquire an additional 49.6% ownership interest from Home Point Capital for $75 million, which will effectively give Ellington substantially all of the equity in the reverse mortgage lender.
When asked about some of the biggest impacts this move could have on product development and partnerships, Longbridge CEO Chris Mayer told RMD that there remains an ongoing commitment to growing the entirety of the reverse mortgage industry for all involved, partners and others alike.
“We have a permanent capital base supporting us, we have a long-term dedicated investor who has been here with us as a company since before Longbridge existed, and is heavily committed to the space,” Mayer told RMD at the end of February. “They don’t need someone to explain what a HECM or an HMBS is or how to spell ‘reverse mortgage.’ Ellington is a company that is deeply committed to this, and so their involvement with Longbridge is really with a dedicated player in the space who believes in it, and is expressing their belief in our company and in the industry through this investment.”
Broader market and reverse mortgage industry-specific analysts also saw a lot of reason for both Ellington and Longbridge to view this deal as a win/win, according to Reverse Market Insight (RMI) President John Lunde, New View Advisors Partner Michael McCully and Credit Suisse Analyst Douglas Harter.
“[EFC is] optimistic about its continuous ability to drive returns from the reverse business,” Harter told RMD in early March. “Both in the ownership of the MSRs, but also the ability to continue to write new business and wanting to own the entity as opposed to just the asset. So, I think it would express a management-favorable view on the outlook for the industry.”
Editor’s note: A previous version of this story incorrectly noted Parks’ previous position at AAG. RMD regrets the error.