A little over three years ago insurance giant MetLife looked like a genius. It stuck its toe in the mortgage banking pond by purchasing the production arm of First Horizon, some of its MSRs, and kept adding to the business.By early 2011 it could boast that it ranked 12th in originations and 10th in servicing. In short, it bought a well-respected franchise at the bottom of the market and had little in the way of “legacy” problems to contend with. Profits were decent, but not exceedingly so.

In the summer when the insurer announced that it would sell its New Jersey-based bank, it clarified that it would stay in mortgage banking. Then it changed its mind. But why?

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