Headquarters: Orange, California
States licensed: AAG is licensed in 49 states, with the majority of its loan volume taking place in California.
Company leadership: Reza Jahangiri, Founder and CEO. Martin Lenoir, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Marketing Officer.
Product offerings: HECM, HomeSafe As more reverse mortgage lenders choose to make more proprietary, non-agency loans available to a wider segment of borrowers, AAG also followed suit by engaging in a partnership with a competing lender, Finance of America Reverse (FAR). That partnership allows AAG to offer that company’s proprietary reverse mortgage offering on a correspondent basis. The product, originally known as “HomeSafe,” is offered as “AAG Advantage” through the company’s retail channel, and as “AAG HomeSafe” in its wholesale channel.
Lender ranking: AAG is the top reverse mortgage lender by loan volume.
Brief history: AAG was first founded in 2004 by Reza Jahangiri, and has spent the past 15 years building itself into the reverse mortgage industry leader it is today.
Operating in both wholesale and retail capacities, AAG has a large network of reverse mortgage originators as well as customer service representatives in call centers which contribute to its large market share and grasp of leads that both call into their standard toll-free numbers, and those borrowers who prefer face-to-face interactions. After building up its retail presence for the first eight years of its existence, the company made a big play into the wholesale space beginning in 2012, leveraging its strong brand presence into the new business avenue.
Particularly in the wake of other prominent lenders exiting the industry a few years after AAG’s initial establishment, a greater opportunity presented itself which allowed AAG’s leadership to make a greater play for a position of leadership in the reverse mortgage sector.
In 2009 as some other players were exiting the reverse mortgage industry, private investors saw more opportunity in the space and started to actively fund more forays into it. One of the beneficiaries of such private investment activity was AAG, which received a $4 million investment from a private equity group to accelerate its growth, and growing volume levels clarified AAG’s potential place as an industry leader to those private investors.
“A lot of competitors have gone by the wayside and we still really believe in the future of this product,” Jahangiri said in a 2009 interview after AAG received the investment.
That investment also allowed AAG to expand its marketing efforts into what is now its most visible and recognizable attribute among other reverse mortgage lenders: television advertising. Unlike many other reverse mortgage lenders, AAG found a greater aspect of its identity in appealing to potential borrowers by employing the use of celebrity spokespeople to carry its message about incorporating home equity into retirement, and the company’s use of television ads have gone a long way in both setting it apart from competing lenders, while also spreading the message about reverse mortgages far and wide to a whole new audience.
After first announcing its TV advertising endeavors in summer 2009, the first spokesperson the company employed was actor Peter Graves, best known to audiences for his memorable roles in movies like Airplane!, along with a vibrant and varied television career including a starring role in the original 1960’s Mission: Impossible series as well as a long stint as host of A&E’s popular series Biography.
Graves’ trademark deep voice and clear phonetic enunciation would serve as something of a template for the kind of image AAG wished to project in its advertising efforts, and he remained AAG’s primary spokesperson until passing away in March of 2010.
The second spokesperson that the company would employ in its TV advertising came from the world of politics. In May of 2010, the company announced that the former Republican Senator from the state of Tennessee, Fred Thompson, would be Graves’ successor as the anchor personality for AAG’s advertising efforts on TV.
Thompson was not alien to working in front of a camera. In addition to being a nationally-recognized politician who had even run a presidential campaign by the time he was hired by AAG, he also had a varied acting career spanning from the 1980s up through the mid-2010s.
As an actor, Thompson is arguably the most well-known for playing Manhattan District Attorney Arthur Branch on NBC legal procedural series Law & Order and several of its spin-offs. Thompson began his appearances on Law & Order while still a sitting member of the United States Senate, and all told ended up appearing in a total of 142 episodes across both the main series and four of its spin-off series.
Thompson also hosted a nationally-syndicated radio show, and his high level of both visibility and recognizability in the senior demographic made him a logical choice to serve as AAG’s second spokesperson. He served in the role from May 2010 until his death in November of 2015.
AAG announced its third spokesperson in June of 2016 to be television and film actor Tom Selleck, likely most well-known for his starring role on CBS crime drama series Magnum P.I. from 1980-1988. Selleck also had a well-received starring role in the 1987 comedy film Three Men and a Baby directed by Leonard Nimoy, and has appeared in a recurring role as police commissioner Frank Reagan on CBS police procedural drama Blue Bloods since the show’s debut in 2010.
Selleck continues to serve as AAG’s spokesperson in television advertising to this day, and his likeness also appears in print and online advertising efforts.
Former AAG Chief Creative Officer Teague McGrath revealed that Selleck’s selection as company spokesperson descended from research indicating the actor’s recognition and respect, which “crosses generations.” In connecting with borrowers, AAG’s TV efforts are mostly aimed to run on cable networks with appeal to a high percentage of the senior demographic, including cable news channels. The company will also occasionally purchase advertising time in focused efforts on broadcast networks.
Even for many reverse mortgage industry players who do not work for AAG, the company’s TV advertising is seen as one of the most visible ways for potential borrowers to connect with the product at-large, with some lenders who don’t even work for the company stating that they have directly benefitted from the airing of AAG’s ads.