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Recovery slow for recession-battered banking industry | Taking Stock


Last updated 6/28/2017 at Noon

The Great Recession hit the economy hard, and no sector was hurt more than banking.

Washington's largest bank disappeared, and all of the largest banks headquartered in Snohomish County were absorbed by bigger, out-of-area banks.

Historically, Seattle has been the banking center of the Northwest, but now the biggest Northwest bank is Umpqua Bank of Roseburg, Oregon, which is nearing $25 billion in assets.

I would have expected a Portland bank to take the lead, considering the nearly two-century rivalry between Portland and Seattle. Wrong. 15 banks in Oregon are bigger than the largest Portland bank.

Information about banks is available from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). I checked both their sites and found that the FDIC recognizes 48 banks in Washington.

As a booster of local companies, I am cheered to see that little Farmington State Bank in Farmington, Washington, still survives with just over $10 million in assets. Likewise Farmers State Bank in Winthrop has $33 million in assets. Lamont Bank of Saint John continues on with $45 million in assets.

So some of the small town banks across the state survived the turmoil. The largest surviving Washington banks are Washington Federal in Seattle, just under $15 billion in assets, Banner Bank from Walla Walla at $9.8 billion in assets, and Tacoma-based Columbia Bank at $9.5 billion.

If you measure them by share value, the order is slightly different. Washington Federal is still No. 1, with a market capitalization of $2.9 billion. Columbia is No. 2 at $2.2 billion, and Banner is comes in third at $1.8 billion. Market capitalization is calculated by multiplying the value of one share of stock by the total shares.

How did we do in Snohomish County? The biggest name in the county was a Seattle bank. It is gone – replaced by a New York bank that, in fact, is legally headquartered in

Ohio. This county's four largest homegrown banks all disappeared, but some of the smaller ones survived and thrived.

The FDIC says we have five banks that call our county home. Three of them are located in Lynnwood. Who knew Lynnwood would be a banking center?

One is headquartered in Everett, which used to be the center of banking in Snohomish County. The other is located in Mountlake Terrace. There seems to have been a shift to South County.

None of our county’s banks have yet reached $1 billion in assets, but two are getting close. 1st Security Bank in Mountlake Terrace now has $870 million in assets. Coastal Community Bank in Everett is close on its heels with $760 million in assets.

Each of Lynnwood’s three banks has between $190 million and $250 million in assets, and all are bigger than the biggest bank in Portland. I consider that a point of note.

Comparatively, the value of banks in Idaho is within reach for our county’s banks. The biggest bank in Idaho has only $1.3 billion in assets.

And some of the biggest banks in the country aren't necessarily where you would expect them. Check out South Dakota. A bank with nearly $2 trillion in assets that most people think has its headquarters in California actually has its headquarters in South Dakota, at least according to the FDIC.

But, then again, Boeing still has its headquarters in Seattle, according to the SEC.

Tim Raetzloff operates Abarim Business Computers at Harbor Square in Edmonds. What he writes combines his sense of history and his sense of numbers. Neither he nor Abarim have an investment in any of the companies mentioned in this column.


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