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Washington Mutual named 'Top Retail Banking Team' by U.S. Banker; WaMu sweeps more 'all-star' categories than any other U.S. financial institution

SEATTLE, Nov 10, 2003 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Washington Mutual (NYSE:WM) was recently named the "Top Retail Banking Team" in U.S. Banker's recent All-Star Banking Team ranking announced in the publication's November issue. The Seattle-based company also earned top marks in two other 'all-star' rankings -- which meant it swept more categories than any other financial institution in the United States.

"We approach our business, first and foremost, as a retailer of financial services," stated Deanna Oppenheimer, President of the Consumer Group at Washington Mutual. "Our growth strategy is to trail blaze with our national mortgage presence and then to take advantage of that presence by overlaying our innovative retail banking platform. It's a strategy that has proven to be very successful in large metropolitan markets across the nation."

Top Retail Banking Team

In naming Washington Mutual as the only bank for the Top Retail Banking Team category, U.S. Banker cited the success of the company's signature brand of retail banking called "Occasio." The publication described Washington Mutual as creating a "buzz" across the United States with its expansion into new consumer bank markets and as having "rivals back on their heels." U.S. Banker further noted the key to the company's retail success has been a sales culture that has taken its cues from conventional retailers, not banks.

"We knew from our research that customers like doing business in a comfortable setting with friendly, competent people -- and we designed our retail financial centers accordingly," added Oppenheimer. "While other banks in recent years were directing customers out to the ATMs and away from the branch, we were pioneering a new way to bring retail banking to the next level."

Top CEOs

The momentum of its retail growth also positioned Kerry Killinger, Washington Mutual chairman, president and chief executive officer (CEO), in U.S. Banker's top CEOs list, with Killinger in the No. 2 spot behind Commerce Bancorp. In this All Star Banking Team ranking, Washington Mutual was noted for pushing past its successful entry into the New York consumer bank market in 2002 and surpassing its target of 70 retail stores in Chicago this year. U.S. Banker further noted Washington Mutual's overall plans to open 250 new Occasio stores in 2003 and plans to do the same number next year.


Likewise, the branding efforts behind this retail success launched Brad Davis, executive vice president of customer acquisition and branding at Washington Mutual, to the No. 1 spot in the Top CMOs (Chief Marketing Officers) ranking. Davis was cited as saying, "I feel passionate that I'm not a banker, but a retailer with 500,000 daily customers."

When it comes to messaging that resonates with consumers, U.S. Banker pointed out that the industry could "take a page or two" from Davis. The marketing executive at Washington Mutual was spotlighted for his "guerrilla tactics to break through the clutter" -- as well as efforts to build a brand that is more than clever advertising, but also "the experience when the customer walks through the door."

U.S. Banker, published by Thomson Media, is the leading banking business manager's magazine. It has released its All-Star Banking Team ranking for the second year in a row.

With a history dating back to 1889, Washington Mutual is a retailer of financial services that provides a diversified line of products and services to consumers and small businesses. At September 30, 2003, Washington Mutual and its subsidiaries had consolidated assets of $286.72 billion. Washington Mutual currently operates more than 2,700 consumer banking, mortgage lending, commercial banking, consumer finance and financial services offices throughout the nation. Washington Mutual's press releases are available at www.wamu.com.

SOURCE: Washington Mutual

Washington Mutual
Mary Kelley, 206-377-6878
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