Early last month, multi-channel lender Open Mortgage — itself the 10th largest reverse mortgage lender — announced the creation of a new chief position, appointing industry veteran Joe Stephenson to be the first person to serve in the position. The creation of the new position reportedly came after a lengthy search, and is said to allow the company’s founder – CEO and 2021 RMD Changemaker Scott Gordon – to pursue other growth-related activities outside of the company’s day-to-day management.
“Not only will his nearly three decades of experience in independent bank deposit and mortgage institutions service Open Mortgage do well, but his strong leadership skills and warm demeanor will also complement our family-like culture,” Gordon said at the time of Stevenson’s appointment.
After formally taking office on December 6, 2021, Stevenson recently met with RMD to discuss his priorities in the newly created additional leadership position at the company, and how the reverse part of the Open Mortgage business looks forward as we move further forward. 2022.
Industry outlook, why he made the leap to Open Mortgage
Echoing some sentiments shared by lenders and originators in the wake of the 2022 lending limit announcement, Stevenson says, Stevenson sees plenty of cause for optimism when it comes to the reverse side of the business. The lending limit plays a role, but there is also more to it than just a new maximum claim amount (MCA).
“Our outlook is very positive,” Stephenson says. Lending limits increased, [MMI] The fund is stable and the need for this product continues to grow as people look to enhance their retirement strategies. Open Mortgage is well positioned for market growth as the infrastructure is located through multiple distribution channels. “
While maintaining his expertise in the futures mortgage business, Stevenson comes to Open Mortgage after previously serving as Senior Vice President of Operations at American Advisors Group (AAG). When Stevenson is asked what drew him to the move to Open Mortgage, he cites one component that founder and CEO Scott Gordon often prioritizes: company culture.
“There were multiple factors that attracted me to Open Mortgage, starting with the culture of the organization,” Stephenson says. “Many employees have a deep history with the organization and this only happens when the company drives the right values. The second aspect is the established network of retail subsidiaries along with its strong wholesale presence, both in the forward and in reverse business.”
Stevenson explains that the potential for growth comes from the way the company is organized. Open Mortgage is an annual production platform worth more than $1.6 billion, and “has the infrastructure needed to grow” given the size of its overall footprint, Stephenson says.
Reverse Driving Strategies in 2022
According to data compiled by Reverse Market Insight, Open Mortgage increased the volume of reverse mortgage origination significantly in 2021. For the entire year of 2020, the company recorded 1,724 reverse mortgages between January and December. In the same period in 2021, that total number grew to 2,316 loans, making Open Mortgage the seventh largest reverse mortgage lender in the country.
While the volume is higher, this also applies to nearly all other major lenders in the space, so Mortgage’s overall ranking in the top ten is unchanged between 2020 and 2021, according to RMI data. However, Stevenson sees growth potential in the new year company-wide, given its position as a multi-channel lender with a presence across the forward and reverse mortgage industries.
“I certainly expect Open Mortgage to continue to expand its footprint in the mortgage space for both reverse and forward,” Stephenson told RMD. “With more than 100 branches across the country, there is an opportunity to grow both.”
In order to expand the borrower “pie” served by the reverse mortgage industry, Stevenson believes that it remains very important for both Open Mortgage and the broader reverse mortgage industry to focus on expanding the reach of the product category. Because of its personal affinity with reverse mortgages, Open Mortgage will aim to be an active participant in this way.
“I have a great passion for this product, and the industry as a whole can benefit from many organizations expanding their appeal with the reverse product,” he says.
He adds that this is why it remains critical for the entire industry to make reverse options more widely available to a larger group of seniors.
“It is in our best interest to continue finding ways to serve our large customers,” Stephenson says. “Product adoption comes through education and trust. Open Mortgage will continue to look for ways to deliver both.”
In case you missed it, be sure to read RMD’s interview with Open Mortgage founder and CEO Scott Gordon stemming from his selection as the 2021 Reverse Mortgage Maker.