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Washington bank announces pay raises, investment after tax reform passage

Multiple binders are carried on Capitol Hill on the evening Republicans advanced their tax legislation, in Washington, D.C., Dec. 1, 2017.
Multiple binders are carried on Capitol Hill on the evening Republicans advanced their tax legislation, in Washington, D.C., Dec. 1, 2017. NYT

A Seattle-based bank with branches in Whatcom County is planning to invest some of its tax reform savings in technology and its employees.

Washington Federal announced a series of changes as a direct result of the passage of federal tax reform legislation. That includes a 5 percent merit-based increase in wages for all employees earning less than $100,000 annually as well as an investment in employee training programs.

The bank is also planning to increase its technology staff by 25 percent and add an additional tech office in Boise, Idaho, according to a news release. It will also contribute $5 million to the Washington Federal Foundation, which supports nonprofits focused on housing, senior care and improving financial literacy.

Washington Federal will also make upgrades to its online banking format.

In the news release, Washington Federal President and CEO Brent Beardall said the tax reform legislation provides some relief in a system that is “heavily biased towards non tax-paying competitors such as credit unions and governmental entities.”

“We feel it is our responsibility in this moment to do our part to spur economic growth and strengthen our communities. While the imbalance remains, the new tax law does provide relief that will allow Washington Federal to more aggressively pursue capital investments,” Beardall said.

Washington Federal has seven branches in Whatcom County, most of which were acquired by taking over Bellingham-based Horizon Bank during the recession. Horizon Bank, which was stung by non-performing construction loans and a deteriorating real estate market, was seized by federal regulators in January 2010.

Other companies have released plans to make investments in employees and technology, including AT&T, Boeing and Fifth-Third Bank.

Dave Gallagher: 360-715-2269, @BhamHeraldBiz

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