Sammamish resident Brent Beardall — who has a 16-year history with Seattle-based Washington Federal — will shift into his new role as CEO at the beginning of April, on the heels of the company’s 100-year anniversary.
Beardall, who will replace retired Washington Federal CEO Roy Whitehead, strives to grow the bank’s commercial and business banking operations and utilize new technology to better serve the company’s clients. Washington Federal operates 238 branches in eight states, including 13 branches on the Eastside. As of September 2016, the company reported $14.9 billion in assets, $10.6 billion in deposits, and $2 billion in stockholders’ equity.
Beardall’s career with the bank began in 2001 as vice president and controller, and he climbed the ranks to chief banking officer in 2016. During the recession, he helped lead the bank through those difficult years, and, according to Washington Federal, it became one of the healthiest banks in America, as measured by Tier 1 Capital ratios.
The banking sphere has changed dramatically in wake of the technology revolution, Beardall said. Washington Federal’s approach is to step back and let its customers take control of their banking online, but maintain personal contact with customers when they need it.
Washington Federal has several new technology-centered concepts it plans to initiate in the future that aim to better accommodate their clients, Beardall said. Most recently, Washington Federal introduced a new checking account that comes with perks such as ID theft monitoring and cell phone insurance, for example. The company currently is working with CenterCard, a corporate card program, to streamline companies’ expense management. It would cut out the need for employees to bring in receipts because the purchases would flow through to the accounting system.
Beardall said Washington Federal also is working on a credit card that would personalize what categories the card can be used for and limit how much can be spent. Parents can let their kids borrow their credit card and limit the allowed purchases to gas or groceries and restrict other items. And the card can be personalized in real-time by the client. The bank also is working on launching checking account products that monitor for theft, provide quarterly credit reports from all three bureaus, offer mobile phone damage protection plans, and coupon features. The goal is to bundle features with checking accounts that customers don’t typically associate with banks. Washington Federal could be a one-stop shop for several of its clients’ financial needs.
“If we can couple technology with financial strength, that can be a real differentiator for us,” Beardall said.
As someone who spent most of his career with the company working in “the back office,” Beardall said he’s looking forward to working more closely with the company’s employees — and find ways to free them up to better serve customer needs.
Beardall earned a master’s degree in professional accounting from Brigham Young University, became a licensed Washington State Certified Public Accountant, and completed Stanford University’s Executive Program in 2013. He lives with his wife Jennifer and three children, and he serves on the board of the YMCA of Greater Seattle.