2020 Executive Excellence Awards: Brent Beardall, President & Chief Executive Officer, WaFd Bank

Beardall has held leadership roles at the largest bank in Washington state since 2001

This article appears in print in the January/February 2020 issue. See more about the winners of the 2020 Executive Excellence Awards here. Click here for a free subscription.

Under Brent Beardall’s leadership, WaFd has become one of the healthiest banks in the nation.

Beardall has been CEO for only three years, but he’s held leadership positions at the bank — the largest based in Washington state — since 2001. He has been instrumental in the bank’s recent business and technological transformations.

Beardall was chief financial officer in 2007 when the Seattle-based bank, which has more than $16.5 billion in assets, began to aggressively expand its commercial portfolio. In Beardall’s first year as CEO, commercial loans represented 67% of the bank’s total loan production.

Beardall also helped guide the technological transformation of WaFd, beginning with a technology overhaul in 2008. By 2017, 89% of WaFd’s transactions occurred through mobile and online banking, ATMs and other automated processes.

Last year, the bank offered interest-free 90-day loans to furloughed federal workers during the government shutdown. Those who were not already bank customers could participate by opening a free checking account. After 90 days, loans not repaid would be assessed interest of 5% through the end of the year (10% beyond), which was considerably less than other short-term loan rates. Additionally, the full loan-vetting process was bypassed to get workers much-needed loans quickly.

“WaFd is benefiting from a robust economy and the positive impact of tax reform,” Beardall said at the time. “We are proud to step in and help our hard-working neighbors get through this uncertain time.”

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