Friday, November 1, 2013

Bank of America branches sold

Washington Federal Bank taking over valley offices


By ERIC AVISSAR
Express Staff Writer

    Washington Federal Bank has purchased 51 branches of Bank of America, including all Idaho branches. The acquisition will result in the Bank of America branches located in Hailey and Ketchum closing on Dec. 6 and reopening as Washington Federal on Dec. 9.
    The financial details of the purchase have not been disclosed, but the purchase amount is expected to be revealed once all of the banks sold have officially become Washington Federal branches. Sean Brawner, assistant bank manager of the Bank of America in Ketchum, said he is happy about the change, and is looking forward to the transition.
    “We’re excited for the transition, and it’s great for the local community because it will be a more personal bank,” Brawner said. “It’s a lot more of a localized bank. The only thing that’s really going to change is the signage on the building.”
    Brawner told the Mountain Express that not only are all employees keeping their jobs, the bank has recently hired two new tellers and a sales service specialist.
    Jeff Harris, Washington Federal senior vice president of the Eastern Idaho division, said the purchase “fits Washington Federal’s footprint nicely.”


The only thing that’s really going to change in this building is the signage.”
Sean Brawner
Assistant manager
Bank of America



    “This acquisition adds the markets we were looking for,” Harris said. “We really wanted to be in eastern Washington and in Idaho as well. We are very excited to expand and want to make a seamless transition.”
    Harris said it was deemed important that each bank retain the same employees, so clients can feel as comfortable as they have in the past with familiar faces handling their transactions. There are 11 Bank of America branches in New Mexico that will be converted into Washington Federal branches this weekend, with the other 40 completing the transition on Dec. 9.
As part of the transition, current Bank of America employees will undergo a five-week training program to become Washington Federal personnel.
    “The most important thing everyone is learning now is the new software,” Brawner said. “It’s a new platform of software and the girls who have worked here for two years have been so used to the current system, but the new one is completely different. It’s a big transition for them.”
    Brawner said all Bank of America clients in the area have been sent a letter and e-mail notifying them of the change, which will require each customer to receive a new bank account number. As a result, a major point of emphasis currently is making sure current clients adjust their direct deposits to be placed into a new bank account number.
    Brawner said other banks have tried to recruit current Bank of America customers to switch their accounts, but expects most of the full-time residents who are customers to stick with Washington Federal.
    “The local community seems to be embracing it,” he said. “They’re excited about it, and it looks like most of the local customers will be sticking with us.”
Eric Avissar: eavissar@mtexpress.com




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