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Kitsap Bank beats economic odds

Kitsap Bank Marketing Manager Shannon Childs and President/CEO Jim Carmichael discuss strategy. - Charlie Bermant
Kitsap Bank Marketing Manager Shannon Childs and President/CEO Jim Carmichael discuss strategy.
— image credit: Charlie Bermant

Even in the face of bank crashes and economic disaster, Kitsap Bank had a pretty good 2008. The bank, which is headquartered in Port Orchard and has 12 full service branches in Kitsap County, reported yearly earnings of $8.5 million (up 6 percent from the previous year).

President/CEO Jim Carmichael said the bank remains well-capitalized and profitable, and, “We have maintained liquidity in the face of one of the toughest environments for banks in modern history.”

The bank celebrated its centennial in 2008.

“We’ve maintained our values,” Carmichael said. “We haven’t outgrown our area and stayed true to what we are doing.”

Which, in simplest terms, means taking care of the depositors’ money.

“The economy is in serious condition,” he said. “This is the longest recession in recent history. No one can project how long it will last, and it will be a challenge to every individual and every business.”

Carmichael advises people to consider their losses, and accept that the money is not likely to come back anytime soon if it was invested in the stock market.

They need to analyze their spending habits and keep their money in a safe place.

Like a bank. This is predictable advice, considering the source. But banks emerged from the recent crisis in a better position, as individual accounts are now insured up to $250,000 (from $100,000).

Kitsap Bank maintains its position as the largest bank in Kitsap County, with 19 percent market share.

Other banks with strong local positions are Bank of America and WAMU, which is now Chase. This situation will work in Kitsap Bank’s advantage, according to Carmichael.

“People like to bank locally,” Carmichael said. “This has to do with personal service. WAMU is no longer a local bank, so you need to decide if you want to put your money in a local bank or one from New York.”

That line, incidentally, is used in Kitsap Bank’s stay-local ad campaign.

Including its Kitsap branches, the bank operates 26 locations throughout Western Washington.

With over $814 million in assets, it provides a full range of financial services to commercial and individual customers and has been named a Preferred Lender by the U. S. Small Business Administration.

“People are a lot more aware of the financial area than they were in the past,” Carmichael said. “This will continue. They need to be comfortable with where they put their money.”

And not surprisingly, he concludes, “Banks are the safest places.”

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