Westsound Bank adjusts to changing climate

The recently announced layoffs by Westsound Bank last week aren’t a sign of trouble for the local financial institution, but rather an adjustment to the changing mortgage market.

“It’s business as usual,” Westsound Bank President Dave Johnson said Thursday morning.

The elimination of 33 jobs in its mortgage division simply means that the bank is altering how it handles those types of loans, Johnson said.

“We’re not out of the mortgage business,” he said. “We’re going to a position as a broker.”

Instead of handling those loans in-house, the company will hire other firms to market those transactions to secondary markets, he said.

Executive vice president of sales and marketing Brett Green is leaving the company to form his own mortgage business.

“We should have a strong relationship with him and I think it will be mutual,” Johnson said.

With 18 to 20 big mortgage companies going out of business since the first of the year, the bank was simply unable to guarantee its customers lending options that it had in the past, he said.

The change in operations won’t affect the bank’s expansion plans, which include a new location in Sequim, and its customers can expect to receive the same level and types of services from the bank they have enjoyed in the past, Johnson said.

On the stock market, Westsound’s holding company WSB financial group took a hit to as low as $11.86 per share from a high of $21 per share, before rebounding slightly to $11.95 per share Thursday morning.

Westsound Bank was founded in 1999 and has nine branches including its headquarters at the intersection of Sixth Street and Pacific Avenue in downtown Bremerton.

In 2006, the bank reported $33 million in revenues and $3.9 million net income.

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