Firstar Bank Ready to Ramp Up Reverse Mortgage Growth

Now that long-awaited major Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) program changes have taken effect, Tulsa, Oklahoma-based Firstar Bank is ready to grow its reverse mortgage division nationally.

The company, which first entered the reverse mortgage scene in 2012, is looking to add proven reverse mortgage lenders to its team, which is led Jake Stockham, vice president of Firstar’s reverse mortgage division.

“We’re not looking to hire everybody who wants to do a reverse mortgage,” Stockham told RMD. “We’re looking to expand with qualified individuals who have proven track records of serving clients in their selective areas. We’re not looking for a crazy expansion upfront.”

A community bank with eight locations in Eastern Oklahoma and Arkansas, Firstar offers traditional forward loans, reverse mortgages, treasury services and wealth management among its service offerings.

The company “took a step back” from its hiring efforts following the implementation of HECM program changes, Stockham said, such as the 60% initial disbursement limit in 2013 and the long-heralded Financial Assessment, which after months of speculation became effective for HECM case numbers assigned on or after April 27.

But now with these changes finally in place, Stockham says Firstar is ready to ramp up its growth efforts in the reverse mortgage sector.

With just six reverse loan originators, Firstar is currently a top-50 lender in the space. The company reported 78 HECMs year-to-date through June 2015, and 15 reverse mortgages in the month alone, according to recent industry data tracked by Reverse Market Insight.

As a national bank, Firstar has the opportunity to do business in all 50 states. The company, however, does a majority of its reverse mortgage volume in Oklahoma, while also doing a “decent amount” of loan production in the Northeast region, Stockham said.

As the second half of 2015 gets underway, Firstar plans to significantly increase its reverse mortgage production. But the company, while it sights big growth on the horizon, has no intention of being a top-10 lender.

“What we’re looking for is an experienced staff of loan originators,” Stockham said. “To sit here and say our goal is to be a top-10 lender—that’s not our intention. We are looking to double, even triple our production in 2016, but we’re looking to do it with a core group of experienced individuals.”

To facilitate the expansion, Firstar recently announced the hiring of Charles McSperitt as reverse mortgage sales manager.

“Charles is a tenured leader in the reverse industry,” said Stockham. “He will be a tremendous asset as we grow.”

Written by Jason Oliva

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