Founded in 2014, New York-based Reverse Mortgage Funding hasn’t been around as long as the other leading HECM lenders, but that hasn’t stopped it from staking its claim on the top lender list.

In the latest stats from Reverse Market Insight, RMF ranks No. 3 on the Top 100 HECM Lenders list and comes in No. 2 for wholesale.

“We’re no longer the new kid on the block,” said Mark O’Neil, national sales leader of RMF’s wholesale and correspondent channel. “We’ve established ourselves as one of the main investors in the space.”

To retain its foothold, RMF is diving deep into its third-party origination business, funneling sizable resources into providing quality service and technology to its brokers and principal agents.

“We’re spending a good deal of time, effort and energy in recruiting and training to make the reverse mortgage accessible to the traditional originators,” O’Neil said. “With the refi boom slowing down and people in the forward market looking for business, we’re focusing our resources on growing that business.”

So far, the investment is paying off.

O’Neil said the lender has seen a marked increase in interest from traditional originators over the past year.

“We’re seeing that in the leads that are coming through our website every day,” he said. “We’re getting more inquiries from forward lenders and brokers.”

O’Neil attributed part of this to the fact that the industry is enhancing its outreach to the forward sector.

“I think we’re making noise, and people are becoming more aware of the industry,” he said, adding that the RMF team often encounters originators who don’t feel confident in their ability to write HECMs themselves, and so they refer them out instead of keeping the business.

“Our approach has been to holistically give these originators the ability to keep these loans, to write these deals themselves and make the money themselves, rather than farming them out,” he said. “But to do this, you really need to have a well-oiled machine that is servicing the clients who are new to the business in several different areas.”

O’Neil said RMF tackles this by offering training, technology, product support and marketing to its TPO partners.

RMF’s Tango platform accepts data imported in FNMA and MISMO formats, O’Neil said, making it easy for originators to upload files that have been initiated in their usual platform.

Tango also touts a loan qualifier feature, which acts as a pre-underwrite to inform loan officers what conditions are likely to be on the loan, making the information gathering and underwriting process that much smoother.

“Though these features can benefit anyone, we designed it specifically to make it easier for traditional originators to enter the reverse mortgage space,” O’Neil said.

The advanced technology works, O’Neil said, noting that RMF’s first-time approval rating for the wholesale loans it underwrites is 93%.

“Having the ability to offer support in service, marketing and training and back it with technology is the total package,” O’Neil said. “We feel it’s really important, because we’ve seen originators get into the business, fumble with one or two loans, and then not pursue it further. We’ve been putting a lot of resources into creating a more holistic approach to make it easier for these originators stick with it and succeed.”

O’Neil said that while the HECM landscape has been rough in the last year, RMF remains committed to the space.

The demographics have not changed, if anything every day they speak louder and louder about how equity conversation products are going to be part of the plan going forward,” he said. “All we do is reverse mortgages. We are 100% dedicated to this space and we’re not going anywhere.”