Open Mortgage CEO Talks Plans for Recent Expansion, New Volume

In addition to making a recent major acquisition and by adding several former executives from the recently-shuttered Live Well Financial, Austin, Texas-based Open Mortgage is a company on the move. Because of the actions it has taken concerning the expansion of both its forward and reverse mortgage business arms, questions about exactly what it intends to do with its newfound resources naturally arise.

To try and find some answers to those questions, RMD recently sat down with Open Mortgage CEO Scott Gordon to discuss its plans for the future: how it intends to leverage the personnel it gained from its acquisition of Premier Home Mortgage and its hiring of former employees of Live Well Financial, where it sees its volume going, whether or not becoming a Ginnie Mae issuer is a possibility and more.

Now that the expansion plans are out in the open (no pun intended), what has the response been like within the mortgage industry as well as Open’s other partners?

Overall, the industry response has been very warm to the expansion of our business. Following the market compression of 2018, Open Mortgage was favorably positioned for expansion. Our cash supply allowed us to bring more people on board by acquiring Premier Home Mortgage and roughly a third of the Live Well team.

Our partners are excited about what is to come as we broaden our capacity and services we provide to our loan officers and customers. 

What do you see as the short- and long-term plans for Open’s reverse mortgage business specifically? How do you expect to implement personnel additions, and how will that lead to changes to reverse mortgage plans compared with what Open has been doing in the space?

The executives we brought on board from Live Well will help us spearhead our reverse mortgage capabilities. Bruce Barnes, Joshua Moran and Jim Cory are all leaders in the reverse mortgage market and will help us grow in the retail and wholesale lending space.

Before the Live Well hires Open Mortgage was already lending forward and reverse mortgages, but the personnel additions will bring the technology and relationships garnered from their time at Live Well. These additions will boost our market share and loan volume in our pipeline. 

Has Open set any new monthly or annual volume targets given the influx of originations staff?

We don’t dwell too much on predictions, but I expect our total production will be up 50 percent this year and 50-100 percent next year.

Does Open anticipate building wholesale versus retail, or do you expect to grow both in tandem?

The additions to the team will grow both our wholesale and retail lending capabilities. The Live Well hires are specifically versed in wholesale, so we are expecting that channel to grow a lot in the near future. 

Is becoming a Ginnie Mae issuer a part of the company’s equation?

Open has great investor partners right now, but eventually we will need to become an issuer to have better control of our destiny.

You had previously mentioned that the technology focus of both Live Well and Premier Home Mortgage would be big factors in shaping the future of Open Mortgage. What kinds of technologies do those entities bring to the table, and how does Open plan to leverage them?

Both Premier Home Mortgage and Live Well operated similarly to us in a technological and cultural standpoint, which is why they fit in so well with our existing operations. Live Well operated with a very user-friendly and education-based interface which will help us in our lending process.

There are other technological advances in our pipeline that once completed, will greatly assist those in the reverse mortgage process from a digital standpoint.

What new markets does Open plan to expand into now that the company’s reach has increased following the recent expansion?

The Premier Home Mortgage acquisition expanded our service offerings into the Upper Midwest and gave us the opportunity to work with a more rural clientele. The Live Well hirings positioned us to have a heavier presence on the East and West coast, with new operation centers in Richmond and San Diego.

Following both of these deals, Open Mortgage currently operates in 47 of the 50 U.S. states excluding Massachusetts, New York and Alaska.

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