Essex Bank in Richmond, Va., recently launched a wholesale mortgage funding group.

The $1.1 billion-asset Essex began accepting broker applications for the unit in May. Through the company's wholesale mortgage operation, independent brokers can access traditional mortgages, portfolio mortgage financing and second-mortgage equity lines with a single lender contact.

"Essex Bank is pleased to increase its capabilities to meet the needs of prospective homeowners as the pace of job growth improves in our local markets, at the same time that independent brokerage firms are showing signs of increased hiring," Rex Smith, chief executive officer of Essex Bank, said in a Friday press release.

"The unique synergy of a full-service branch bank also providing wholesale mortgage financing increases the flexibility for brokers to offer their clients the best and most appropriate home financing available," Smith added.

Leading the unit are veteran wholesale mortgage lenders Ron Voli and Lisa Owen. Voli was appointed senior vice president for Essex's wholesale operation and has over 30 years of wholesale lending management experience. Owen was named vice president for Essex's mortgage operations and has worked in the industry for more than 20 years.

Essex Bank has 14 branches in Virginia and seven in Maryland. The company also operates two loan production offices in Virginia.

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