There are still local institutions that recognize you when you walk in the door. Places where text messages have not yet replaced real live people on the phone. Places that are not run by shareholders but by members, for members.
The past year and a half has brought a lot of change to banking in the state of Washington. WaMu, or Washington Mutual as it used to be known, was once a point of pride for Washington state residents. It was a big bank that did things the Washington way, with friendly employees who remembered names and faces. By July of 2008 it had become obvious to many of its shareholders and depositors that the Washington Mutual of the mid-90’s was long gone as billion dollar losses were reported.
It was during this time that I saw my first wave of new members arrive at Verity with official checks bearing WaMu’s name, their main concern being whether or not their funds were insured. As I explained that by structuring deposits into various CDs all their funds would be insured through the NCUA, I listened to their disappointment in how the local bank had let down its hometown fans.
The next wave came a few months later with the announcement of J.P. Morgan Chase’s purchase of WaMu’s operations in late September 2008. This time the tide was turning as these new members started opening more transaction accounts. Their checks still bore WaMu’s logo, with Chase’s name also present and printed on unfamiliar green check stock. The overwhelming sentiment I heard from these long time WaMu customers was that they wanted nothing to do with a bank headquartered almost 3,000 miles away in New York City.
A couple months ago, I started to see what I imagine to be the last wave of former WaMu refugees trickle through the door – those who decided to give Chase a chance and stuck around after the WaMu signs were taken down and the branches were remodeled. I assured these disillusioned members that banking as a whole had not changed.
There are still local institutions that recognize you when you walk in the door. Places where text messages have not yet replaced real live people on the phone. Places that are not run by shareholders but by members, for members. Places that have been banking pretty well for more than 75 years now. Like Verity.
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