Port of Seattle Federal Credit Union Announces Plans to Merge With Sound Credit Union

The boards of Port of Seattle Federal Credit Union (POSFCU) and Sound Credit Union have unanimously approved a merger agreement between the two organizations. The agreement is the first formal step in the merger process. The next steps include approval from state and federal regulators and from POSFCU members.

The merger is seen by leaders at both credit unions as the best way to serve their members.

“We’re excited to pursue this merger opportunity with Sound,” said George Bluhm, general manager of POSFCU. “Our members will enjoy an extensive branch network and access to technology like mobile check deposit that will make their banking lives easier.”

Sound Executive Vice President and COO Denise Reagan, who is leading the merger from the Sound side, said that POSFCU members will benefit from access to Sound’s 23 branches, extensive product and service offerings, and long history of stability and growth.

“We know that some Port of Seattle members will miss the branch they are used to visiting, and we can’t blame them,” said Reagan. “Luckily, both our Burien and Southcenter branches are within a few miles of the Port of Seattle location. And we think Port of Seattle members will enjoy our extended hours, the convenience of our automated technologies, our telephone banking capabilities, and access to our extensive network of shared branches and ATMs.”

She also said that all POSFCU staff will be offered positions with Sound.

Reagan said that existing Sound members will not notice any difference. “There won’t be a blip for our current members,” she said. “We’ll keep giving them the great service they expect while continuing to pursue our strategic goals.”

Sound President and CEO Rick Brandsma, who oversaw the previous 15 mergers at Sound, said that mergers like this one are good for the two credit unions, their members, and the movement.

“At every credit union you have a number of core credit union members, people who really believe in the credit union philosophy and will always seek their financial services at credit unions,” said Brandsma. “This merger gives Sound the chance to provide a new home for those members.”

He said that this merger is a chance for Sound to practice the credit union philosophy of people helping people. “This is an instance of credit unions helping credit unions,” he said. “Credit union members expect and deserve the service of a credit union, and Port of Seattle chose Sound as the best partner to offer that service to its members.”

Mergers have been an important part of the credit union landscape, especially since the regulatory burden rose in the wake of the 2008 financial collapse. Brandsma said that part of Sound’s strategy is to always be prepared for merger opportunities, which means building financial strength into the DNA of the institution. “We are always open to merger opportunities,” said Brandsma, “and we’re also pursuing a strategy for organic growth.”

Brandsma said that mergers happen for many reasons. Sometimes a small credit union wants to offer more to its members and decides a merger with a larger institution is the best way to do that. Sometimes small credit unions struggling under increased regulatory burden find it difficult to compete. And sometimes, as in the case of the First Tech merger with Addison Avenue Federal, two healthy credit unions decide they can do more together.

“I always encourage credit union leaders to get familiar with mergers, even if they don’t foresee one in their future,” said Brandsma. “That way, when an opportunity or need arises, they have a good starting point.”

The credit unions have submitted applications to Washington’s Department of Financial Institutions and the National Credit Union Administration, and are awaiting responses. They have a membership meeting preliminarily scheduled for June.

Should the merger reach conclusion, the continuing credit union will be Sound Credit Union with corporate offices in Tacoma, Washington. The combined credit union would hold more than $1.1 billion in assets, and serve over 100,000 members with a total of 23 branches located throughout Pierce, Thurston, King and Snohomish Counties.

Questions about this story? Contact James Pearson: 206.340.4790, jpearson@nwcua.org.

Posted in Federal.