DENVER--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Dec. 3, 2002--Washington Mutual, the
nation's leading growth retailer of consumer financial services, has
introduced its award-winning brand of retail banking in Denver. The
company opened its first 20 of 30 "Occasio" banking centers this week
in the Denver area, where it plans to build upon and leverage its
leading home lending operations.
"Our experience shows Denver consumers appreciate Washington
Mutual's brand of doing business, which combines a good deal with
friendly, efficient service," said Brad Weber, regional manager for
Washington Mutual's retail bank network in Colorado. "Our research
shows they're ready for our retail products and services as well."
Weber noted the company's research found that banks in Denver
could do a better job in meeting expectations of local customers in
many areas. Respondents particularly voice their frustration about
fee-related issues. "Over the years, consumers have made it clear they
do not want to be 'nickel and dimed by a bank,'" said Weber. "We've
listened and have structured our fees accordingly."
Washington Mutual brings Denver customers its entire package of
customer-driven products and services, including free checking and
online banking; surcharge free ATMs; responsive, individual customer
service; unlimited free access to tellers and customer service
representatives; and a host of banking options and choices that let
the customer decide how, when and where they want to do business.
No Stranger to Denver
Although Washington Mutual is providing retail banking to Denver
for the first time, the company is no stranger to Colorado. Washington
Mutual is the #2 home lender in the state and currently employs
approximately 300 people locally in its home lending operations,
primarily in its loan fulfillment center in Englewood, and seven home
lending offices throughout the state, which include five home lending
centers. The company also offers multi-family and commercial real
estate lending through an office in Denver and home builder finance
through an office in Englewood.
With the entry of its retail operations, Washington Mutual will
play a more active role in the Denver community through homeownership
and education initiatives. Since announcing its retail entry into the
state, the bank has added nearly 200 jobs to the area, bringing its
total employee count to approximately 500.
The Occasio Difference
"Occasio," a Latin noun for "favorable opportunity," represents a
dramatic shift from traditional bank branches in look, feel and
service. Rather than directing customers to ATMs, Occasio takes its
cues from cutting-edge retailers, using an open, welcoming environment
and top-notch customer service to draw people into the financial
center. The complete package is unlike anything else available in
"By uniting our customer-friendly service with innovative
technology and design elements, we're able to provide something banks
have never consistently delivered: an inviting customer experience,"
Occasio financial stores look and feel like contemporary retail
stores. Unlike traditional branches, Occasio stores feature casually
dressed, khaki-clad "concierges" who greet people and escort them to
the appropriate service area.
Washington Mutual has opened or remodeled more than 300 Occasio
stores throughout the country in two-plus years, including 21 in Las
Vegas, 28 in Phoenix, 50 in Atlanta and 12 in greater New York/New
Jersey. Next year Washington Mutual plans to open more than 230 new
Occasio stores. The company currently operates nearly 1,500 retail
financial centers nationwide.
Occasio is the latest extension of Washington Mutual's sales and
service culture. The bank began developing Occasio in the mid-late
1990s, basing it on nearly two years of extensive customer research
and testing. "While other banks were debating clicks versus bricks,
our findings showed that customers preferred our brand of customer
service over anything else," said Weber. "The time was perfect to
introduce a new concept that used technology to enhance the customer
experience, not replace it."
About Washington Mutual
With a history dating back to 1889, Washington Mutual is a
national financial services company that provides a diversified line
of products and services to consumers and small- to mid-sized
businesses. At September 30, 2002, Washington Mutual and its
subsidiaries had assets of $261.10 billion. Washington Mutual
currently operates more than 2,500 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.
||Joe Arbona, 713/543-6714 (work)