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Financial Advisors to Originate

Ameriprise Bank FSB launched

September 22, 2006


photo of Patrick Crowley
A spinoff of the American Express Co. has launched a federal savings bank that is jumping into the mortgage business. But instead of loan originators, borrowers will be dealing with financial advisors who are exempt from licensing.

Ameriprise Bank FSB's mortgage products include fixed and adjustable rate mortgages; interest only mortgages; jumbo and super jumbo loans; flexible down payment loans; and low document mortgages, which are crafted for people whose employment status may not allow them to quality for a loan, such as the self-employed and those who work on commissions.

The bank does not offer subprime loans, nor does it offer a wholesale mortgage program for brokers, Ameriprise Financial Inc. spokeswoman Elizabeth Willoughby said in an e-mail to MortgageDaily.com.

Willoughby said she could not provide the number of employees dedicated to mortgage operations nor the banks anticipated mortgage loan volume. Overall, the bank has about 85 employees, she said.

"We don't have projections for the number of mortgages we are going to sell, so I can't say how many advisors will be selling mortgages," she said. "We're looking at each client on a case-by-case basis and will work to meet their individual needs."

The bank has approximately $1.1 billion in assets. It is based in New York and has offices in Minneapolis and Phoenix. But mortgage and other products will be sold "primarily through its network of more than 10,000 Ameriprise financial advisors," it said in a statement.

Willoughby said the bank does not need a mortgage originator license because as a federal savings bank it is "authorized to originate mortgages in all 50 states."

Ameriprise is sending signals it intends to be aggressive in the mortgage origination market, making mortgage lending one of its early areas of emphasis.

The bank said it will "continue to develop new offerings that meet clients' ongoing planning needs."

"The first of these is the home lending program including mortgages, home equity loans and lines of credit," the bank said.

"Buying a house is the biggest expense most people will ever have," Joe Sweeney, Ameriprise president of financial planning, products and services, said in the statement. "It's an emotional experience ... and our advisors are uniquely suited to provide solutions and suggestions for home lending."

Patrick Crowley is a feature journalist and blogger for MortgageDaily.com. He is also a reporter, blogger and columnist for The Cincinnati Enquirer.
e-mail Patrick at: [email protected]

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