World Savings Bank is a growing financial institution operating fully in ten different U.S. States: California, Arizona, Nevada, Texas, Colorado, Kansas, Illinois, New York, New Jersey and Florida. They boast a total of 285 savings branches and more than $125 billion in assets. Although they are not yet in competition with the “Big Three” banks, they are slowly climbing the ranks when it comes to checking accounts, savings accounts, personal loans and mortgages.
World Savings was first established in Mandera, California in the year 1912. Since 1980, they have grown steadily eastward, reaching ten states rather than two, and entering the state of New York as recently as 2004. World Savings Bank as well as the Atlas companies are under the larger umbrella of Golden West Financial.
World Savings Bank offers checking and savings accounts, personal loans, mortgages, CD’s, money market accounts and a host of other financial services. They have transformed many of the financial lending trends on the west coast by offering higher savings rates and by issuing low rates on adjustable rate mortgages. They have also gained quite a bit of success with their “no-load” mutual funds, which refers to shares that are sold without sales charges.
One of the most impressive aspects of World Savings Bank is their community involvement through the BRIDGE Initiative for the Development of Affordable Housing, Habitat for Humanity, Rebuilding Together, Neighborhood Housing Services, and Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, in addition to providing financial assistance to Katrina victims.
Wachovia Bank, based in Charlotte County, NC, has recently acquired Golden West Financial Corporation. According to a press release dated May 7, 2006, both companies are positive and excited about the merging, and look forward to expanding to meet more of the U.S. market. Ultimately, they hope to be in direct competition with much larger banks like Bank of America, Chase Bank and Wells Fargo.
World Savings Bank has long been an upstanding member of the financial community, known for excellent customer service and trend-setting activity on the fronts for both savings and loan. Many people, however, are distressed by the merging with Wachovia, and see it as a step back for the company as it was just beginning to grow.
Over the last decade, Wachovia has been under the microscope for alleged less-than-honest lending practices, said to target low-income and minority families for loans that exceed their ability to pay back. Others worry about creating an “anti-competitive” lending share in the headquarters town of Charlotte, NC. Fair Finance Watch has requested public hearings so that federal regulators can hear and interpret these concerns.
Despite World Savings’ reputation for impeccable service, customers worry that their desire to cash out of the lending industry will lead to major changes for current account holders. It has not yet been determined how the merging of Golden West Financial and Wachovia will affect current customers, but nothing has been done to assuage the concerns.
Once Golden West Financial and Wachovia complete the merge, the resulting holdings will exceed $600 billion with a market capitalization of more than $110 billion.
Golden West is currently headquartered in Oakland, California, and has lending operations in 39 states, operating on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the ticker symbol GDW. It is the Number 2 U.S. Savings & Loan, and was acquired by Wachovia for $25.5 billion. You can find out more about Word Savings Bank by visiting worldsavings.com and more about their investor relations by visiting gdw.com.