Vertical Lend, a Melville, N.Y., unit of the Belgian banking company KBC Group NV, said it will have hired 160 employees by early next year to support its burgeoning reverse mortgage business, which it said was uncompromised by the current market woes.

"The reverse mortgage market is a virtually untapped market … unaffected by what is happening in the forward mortgage market," David Peskin, the chief executive of Vertical Lend, said Tuesday in a press release.

There are 20 million senior citizens who could take out a reverse mortgage, but less than 2% have done so, according to Mr. Peskin.

Vertical Lend said it originally intended to hire only 100 staff members — a goal it reached over the past four months — but now plans to add 60 more positions to support its growth.

The new recruits will work out of Vertical Lend's Detroit office, which opened in June.

KBC purchased Vertical Lend this year to apply its capital markets expertise to the reverse mortgage business, where Vertical Lend is the nation's fifth-largest provider.

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