How former Live Well employees will help Open Mortgage grow
Open Mortgage CEO Scott Gordon has a software and engineering background that may serve his company well given the task that lies ahead for it – scaling its operation for additional growth.
The company, which is the 11th-largest government reverse-mortgage lender based on endorsement estimates for the past 12 months, is currently tasked with the absorption of half of the No. 7-ranked Live Well Financial's laid-off staff and one of Live Well's leases.
"I hope we absorb some of their market share. They're a great core group of people. Some of them are very senior and have a lot of industry connections," said Gordon, although he noted Open Mortgage has not acquired any of Live Well's loans.
Gordon said little about the liquidity event that abruptly stopped Live Well from funding last month, except to say that it was "unfortunate." Open Mortgage itself has plenty of liquidity, Gordon said, noting the company recently able to add excess warehouse financing capacity.
How fast Open Mortgage will find it practicable to gear up to use that funding remains to be seen. Reverse mortgages tend to be slow-growth products, but Open Mortgage is planning work with new hires from Live Well to originate more traditional home loans as well.
"They had really pushed into forward and we did acquire some of their forward people. I think it will help us accelerate of our own forward wholesale, and one of the people that we're bringing over will help grow forward retail," he said.
Other business initiatives Open Mortgage is pursuing include various technological innovations that leverage Gordon's software engineering expertise. But unlike other lenders, one thing it is not doing is developing digital mortgage technology in conjunction with a retail call center.
"Putting in call centers isn't how we're wired," he said.
While direct lending through call centers may not be a strategy Open Mortgage wishes to pursue at this time, the company keeps an eye out for ways to operate more efficiently. Gordon is willing to utilize strategies such as outsourcing, offshoring or buying technology off the shelf where it makes sense.
"You can't create everything from scratch," he said.