In quest to grow reverse business, US Mortgage Corporation hires Krajewski

New York-based multichannel lender US Mortgage Corporation is expanding its efforts in the reverse mortgage space, illustrating its focus on growth. The company recently hired reverse mortgage industry veteran Ken Krajewski to serve as its managing director and head of reverse mortgage lending.

US Mortgage recently surpassed 30 years in business. The expansion of its dedicated reverse lending division, which has been active for more than a decade, follows on other recent trends that have seen more forward mortgage companies entertain the addition or expansion of reverse mortgage products to their suite of offerings.

To get a better idea of the company’s ambitions in the space, RMD sat down with Krajewski and US Mortgage President Scott Milner to discuss the move further.

Business alignment

Krajewski most recently served as vice president and head of reverse mortgage lending at University Bank, and he joined US Mortgage earlier this month. He said the company attracted him because of its goals to expand more broadly into reverse mortgages.

“I was actively looking for an opportunity with a mortgage organization that wanted to either grow or start a reverse mortgage business,” he said. “It was important to me to align myself with an organization that had the core values that I do, of being passionate about the reverse mortgage product and about helping the people that it serves.”

A conversation with the US Mortgage executive team led him to believe that it was the right place to go, since Krajewski detected an alignment between his own goals and those of the company.

“[Since I] wanted to participate in growing a reverse mortgage business, it was clear to me that US Mortgage was [the company] I needed to align myself with,” he said.

The larger goal

When asked why the company was interested in expanding its presence in the reverse space, Milner said it came down to both finding the right person for the job and determining the best course through a challenging period for the entire mortgage business.

“I think in a lot of ways, you have to look at this business, whether it’s on the forward side or the reverse side, and just decide if you’re going to dig in and look to grow or scale back and hibernate,” Milner said.

“Both forward and reverse are very susceptible to interest rate rises, volume declines, guideline changes and credit tightening. But when we sit back and look at who the company is — we just celebrated our 30th anniversary last month — we’ve driven the company based on certain ideologies and a mission that everybody deserves a roof over their head.”

Reverse mortgages align with that goal by further considering the senior population in its wider mission, especially when taking demographic trends into account, Milner said.

“To me, reverse is really a natural outlet to help with that mission,” he said. “It’s no secret what the statistics say about the population growth and the aging population changes that we’re seeing. When I think about the reverse product specifically, it really is such a unique product in the sense that it is really part of a life-planning exercise. And I love the idea that we can get so deep with these clients and really impact their lives for the better.”

Forward-reverse divide

With the addition of more forward mortgage companies to the space recently, a natural question comes up about what kind of professionals to hire — either dedicated reverse mortgage specialists who know how this kind of transaction works, or forward specialists who can be trained in the particulars of reverse.

When asked which way US Mortgage’s plans are going, Krajewski said that it comes down to expanding the available options for the company’s existing professionals.

“What we plan on doing is using an internal accreditation or certification program where we can offer forward mortgage loan officers the ability to become certified to do reverse mortgages, and in which case those loan officers would be hybrid, capable of handling both forward and reverse,” Krajewski said.

“Those who don’t want to go through that training, education and certification can choose to continue as forward mortgage loan officers, and then we will provide them an outlet to refer any reverse mortgage opportunities they have to our dedicated, nationwide retail reverse mortgage team, which we are aggressively growing right now,” he added.

Seeking a ‘fresh perspective’

The confidence in this approach also comes from US Mortgage’s desire to continue growing even as the broader mortgage industry faces notable headwinds, Krajewski said.

“I’ve aligned myself with an organization that has been around for a long time, that has seen the good times and the bad times, and has continued to weather whatever storms they have faced,” he said. “As Scott said, they’ve been in business for 30 years. They want to grow and that says a lot about an organization in the environment we’re in.”

Because the infrastructure of the division has been in place for a while, Milner added, the primary goal becomes about sharing the company’s broader value proposition to the reverse mortgage sector.

“So, for us, the question is focused on how we give people a fresh perspective on this,” he said. “I think we can deliver that kind of fresh value proposition with a company that’s got all that stability over the last 30 years.

“So, as we grow the division, that’s going to be where we, especially Ken and I, focus on — just getting that messaging out there and showing how we could be different but also impactful.”

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