SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Feb. 25, 2004--"Innovative bank." Sounds
like a classic oxymoron -- but not according to FORTUNE magazine's
This week, FORTUNE magazine announced that Washington Mutual
(NYSE:WM) was the No. 1 rated company nationally in the innovation
category as part of the publication's 2004 Most Admired Companies
list, which is expected to hit newsstands March 1. The company also
earned top ranking in its Mortgage Services industry group.
In terms of innovation, Washington Mutual bested such venerable
organizations as Starbucks, Procter & Gamble, Herman Miller, UPS, and
Nike. Nationally and internationally recognized for transforming
retail banking, the company also recently received awards from the
Lafferty Group, U. S. Banker and the Retail Industry Leader's
"Washington Mutual has a long standing commitment to bringing
innovative concepts with practical applications to market for the
benefit of our consumers," said Kerry Killinger, the company's
chairman, president and chief executive officer. "I'm proud that our
recent innovations have not only proven to be successful, but that
Washington Mutual has been recognized a leading innovator by our peers
as acknowledged by FORTUNE."
Washington Mutual's breakthrough financial center stores, which
the company began opening in April 2000, takes a page from some of
America's top retailers. In the past four years, the company has
opened more than 780 new and remodeled financial center stores
throughout the U.S. The stores have been widely praised for
introducing a welcoming environment to banking customers used to
traditional high counters, button-down clerks, and impersonal service
that are often associated with the banking industry. Instead,
Washington Mutual offers Khaki-clad concierges who greet customers and
escort them to the appropriate service areas. Barriers such as teller
windows have been eliminated and allow for easier communication
between the customers and service representatives.
Many of the stores also feature a retail section as well as a
children's play area to keep kids occupied while their parents are
A long-time leader in banking innovation, Washington Mutual was
one of the first banks to offer free checking, which, coupled with its
innovative financial centers and surcharge free ATMs, have helped the
company become the seventh largest banking institution in the nation.
Also, the company was the first in the country to offer sight-impaired
consumers Talking ATMs that speak English and Spanish, and they
recently teamed up with eBay to make available an unusual promotion:
certificates of deposit via an online auction format.
Killinger said that being recognized as the top innovative company
in the U.S., as well as the nation's most admired mortgage services
company, is clear evidence that Washington Mutual's successful
national strategy -- leading with mortgage operations in key markets
and then introducing its innovative retail concept, is working well.
About Washington Mutual
Washington Mutual's financial center concept was recently
recognized as one of the world's best retail "stores" by the Retail
Industry Leader's Association. Washington Mutual was highlighted in a
special report on the top 40 retail stores in the world, and was the
only financial institution to be featured.
The company also was recently recognized by London's Lafferty
Group as "Best Retail Bank -- Americas" for its signature brand of
retail banking, noting that the company stands out among all U.S.
financial institutions in "trailblazing an innovative brand of retail
banking -- one that is warm and inviting and takes its cues from
The company also won U.S. Banker's "Top Retail Banking Team"
award. U.S. Banker cited the success of the company's retail banking
strategy, and noted that the company has created a "buzz" across the
United States with its successful expansion into new retail bank
markets, and has "rivals back on their heels."
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 commercial clients. At Dec. 31,
2003, Washington Mutual and its subsidiaries had assets of $275.18
billion. Washington Mutual currently operates more than 2,400 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.
CONTACT: Washington Mutual
Sheri Pollock, 206-377-2138
SOURCE: Washington Mutual