Joseph P. Bryant Jr., formerly the head of Long Island Savings Bank's mortgage operation, has joined another New York thrift as its top mortgage banking executive.

Mr. Bryant began working for Home Federal Savings Bank, a subsidiary of New York Bancorp, this week as a first vice president in charge of residential and consumer lending. Home Federal, with about $3.1 billion of assets at Dec. 31, is the nation's 61st-largest thrift.

But Home Federal, which is based in Douglaston, N.Y., and does most of its business in New York City and Long Island, wants to expand its mortgage lending operations.

"New York Bancorp's senior management decided they want to grow the business aggressively," Mr. Bryant said, and they want "to pattern the growth plan along the lines of what we did at Long Island Savings Bank."

In Mr. Bryant's three and half years at Long Island Savings, mortgage originations more than quadrupled, and the servicing portfolio more than doubled. The thrift originated $2.7 billion last year and serviced about $6.7 billion.

In 1993, when Mr. Bryant joined Long Island Savings, the company originated about $600 million and had a servicing portfolio of about $3.2 billion.

The following year, the thrift bought mortgage banking companies in Maryland and Virginia. Mr. Bryant said Home Federal also will look to expand outside the New York metropolitan area.

Home Federal is "looking at potential acquisitions or de novo growth on a multiregional basis," Mr. Bryant said. The thrift originated about $400 million of mortgages last year and services about $2.3 billion, he said.

David Winton, an analyst at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Inc., said Home Federal would be wise to follow the lead of other New York thrifts that are building national mortgage operations, such as Dime Bancorp and Greenpoint Financial Corp.

"It would make sense to receive paper from brokers elsewhere," Mr. Winton said. "It is a pretty competitive market in New York."

Mr. Bryant said Home Federal's mortgage operations will grow under his watch but not at the expense of the parent company's profitability, a sentiment that pleases analysts who cover New York Bancorp.

"This is a company we hold in pretty high regard," Mr. Winton said. "It has a very high return on equity."

Mr. Bryant, a Tennessee native, has worked for several industry giants, including GE Capital Mortgage Insurance Corp., Travelers Mortgage Services, and Prudential Residential Services.

He called it "a breath of fresh air" to work for a smaller company and for New York Bancorp chairman Patrick E. Malloy and chief executive officer Michael A. McManus Jr. He added that he was attracted to the Home Federal job because of the top executives' entrepreneurial outlook and willingness to "think outside of the box."

This summer Mr. Bryant had been rumored to be a leading candidate to fill the executive vice president of loan production post at Fleet Mortgage Group. Fleet is one of the largest originators in the nation but has been beset by profitability problems, analysts said.

Mr. Bryant confirmed that he had talked with Fleet but said the chance to build a small lender and stay in the New York area intrigued him.

"This transplanted hillbilly never thought he'd like the Northeast, and Long Island in particular," he said, "but it's a fun place to live and work."

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