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Friday, September 26, 2008

Inside WaMu

posted by on September 26 at 11:27 AM


Philip1, who works in the Washington Mutual tower downtown, says his first instant message of the day came from a co-worker:


All the Washington Mutual employees received an email announcing the buyout last night2, giving people time to freak out in the privacy of their own homes before coming to work.

“Most everybody’s been resigned for weeks that something like this would happen,” Philip says. “Some people are working, others are slacking off, people taking extra-long coffee breaks together, joking around.”

The most popular jokes in the Washington Mutual tower this morning:

As people arrived: “Welcome to J.P. Chase!”

Intermittently, as people pass each other: “It feels good working here!” and “I like this new office!”

Regarding a branding campaign—”fair, caring, human, dynamic, and driven!”—that Washington Mutual employees had beaten into their skulls a few years ago: “Do we still have to ‘live the brand’?”

Philip, who works as a low-level compliance analyst, says he wouldn’t mind being laid off. “But some of the older people,” he says, “are looking pretty nervous. I haven’t seen anybody crying. Not in my department.”

The only material difference in the office, Philip says, is that they finally took down a portrait of Kerry Killinger—Washington Mutual’s CEO, ousted earlier this month—and replaced it with a picture of an abacus.

“None of us,” he says, “have any idea what’s going to happen.”

1Not his real name.

2 Full text of the “we’ve just been bought out but don’t you worry!” email below the jump.

To: All Washington Mutual Employees

From: Jamie Dimon, Chief Executive Officer, JPMorgan Chase

Subject: JPMorgan Chase and Washington Mutual Join Together

Tonight, JPMorgan Chase announced that we are acquiring the banking operations of Washington Mutual. I wanted to reach out to you all quickly to welcome you to our firm and to let you know how pleased we are that Washington Mutual is joining the JPMorgan Chase family. I realize that this has been a difficult and stressful time for many of you, and I want to thank you for your hard work during this extraordinary period. We value your efforts in building Washington Mutual, and we look forward to working together as one team.

The combination of JPMorgan Chase and Washington Mutual will make our combined operations and company stronger. We will have the second-largest branch network in America and the most customer deposits. Our expanded branch network and customer base will also benefit our commercial banking, business banking, credit card, consumer lending and wealth management efforts. While this transaction will lead to growth opportunities for many of our employees across both firms, I also recognize that there will be job reductions, which we will work to minimize and will handle as sensitively as possible.

My key “Day-One” message - especially for those of you serving customers directly — is to keep doing what you’re doing. We don’t want to miss a beat in our daily activities. Needless to say, you should continue your normal working hours and assure our customers that they can feel confident and secure in our newly combined company as part of JPMorgan Chase.

I’m sure you have many questions, and I’ve attached two Q&As for additional information - one for frequently asked employee questions and another related to customer questions.

Once again, we are pleased to join forces with Washington Mutual, and we look forward to creating a truly great company together. As we move ahead over the coming days and weeks, JPMorgan Chase and Washington Mutual managers will reach out to you as we work on integrating our businesses, systems and other operations.


What is JPMorgan Chase buying?

JPMorgan Chase is buying the banking operations of Washington Mutual. That means the business of the bank, including branches, checking and savings accounts, mortgages and credit card accounts.

Why is JPMorgan Chase doing this acquisition?

The combination of our two companies creates the nation’s second-largest branch network, greatly expanding banking convenience for customers. Our combined network reaches 42% of the U.S. population, with strong positions in attractive markets such as California, Florida, New York, Texas, Arizona, Illinois and Washington.

How big will the combined network be?

The combined company will have $900 billion in deposits, 5,400 branches and 14,000 ATMs in 23 states.

Will my job function change and will I have a new boss?

For now, it’s business as usual. You should continue to report to work, perform your current job function, and focus on the important job of serving customers. There are no changes in your systems or policies, or the employee resources you access today.

Do you expect job eliminations? If so, when will those occur?

It is too early to estimate the number of possible job eliminations. Over time, we expect reductions in redundant roles across the combined company. We’ll be working with Washington Mutual management to make business decisions and understand the staffing requirements. Affected employees will be informed as soon as possible and we will work to provide other opportunities within our company.

Do I work for JPMorgan Chase, J.P. Morgan or Chase?

Our official corporate name is JPMorgan Chase & Co. Our consumer, small business, and commercial/real estate banking businesses operate as Chase. Our asset management, private banking and investment bank businesses operate as J.P.Morgan.

How should I answer the phone? Washington Mutual or Chase?

We are still using the Washington Mutual brand today, so you should continue to answer the phone as Washington Mutual, just as you do today. It’s business as usual.

How are my salary and pay days affected?

There are no changes in your salary or your pay days at this time. As we combine our two companies, we’ll keep all employees informed about any future changes.

What happens to our sales or monthly production incentive plans?

There are no changes to these programs at this time. As we combine our two companies, we’ll keep all employees informed about any future changes.

How are my benefits affected?

Current Washington Mutual benefit plans, such as medical, 401(k) and retirement, will continue for now. Information about the transition to JPMorgan Chase benefits plans will be provided at a later time.

Will my years of service and vesting be credited by JPMorgan Chase?

It is expected that your service with Washington Mutual will be recognized under the JPMorgan Chase benefits plans, subject to a review of the plans and the terms and conditions of those plans.

How are my vacation benefits affected?

For now, your vacation benefits are not affected. As we work to combine the two companies, we’ll communicate to all employees about any changes in our vacation policies. In the meantime, continue to seek your manager’s approval to take your planned vacation time.

If I’m interested in a job at a Chase location, will I be able to transfer to that position?

While there will be opportunities, we’ll ask you to stay in your current role for now until we make business decisions and understand the staffing requirements.

How are customers’ accounts affected?

It’s business as usual for you and your customers. They’ll continue to use their same checks, account numbers, ATM and debit cards, PINs, credit cards, and customer service phone numbers.

What should I say to customers who ask if their money is safe?

You can reassure customers that their deposits are safe. JPMorgan Chase is one of the strongest financial institutions in the U.S. with $1.8 trillion in assets.

What do I tell customers about FDIC insurance coverage if they have deposit accounts in both banks?

You can tell your customers that their deposits are insured separately today just as they were yesterday, and generally will be for another six months. At that time, your deposits will be insured by the FDIC for up to $100,000 per depositor (with an additional $250,000 for self-directed retirement accounts), and will continue to be backed by the strength and security of JPMorgan Chase.

Do I tell customers they’re now doing business with JPMorgan Chase?

You can simply say ‘Yes, we’re now part of JPMorgan Chase. That’s good news because your deposits are still backed by FDIC insurance as well as one of the strongest financial institutions in the U.S. Eventually, this will mean more convenience for you. But for now, we’ll continue to operate as Washington Mutual. Nothing changes for you or for your accounts. Continue banking as you have, assured that your bank is now backed by the strength and security of JPMorgan Chase.”

Can Washington Mutual customers now bank at Chase, and vice versa?

Not yet! We’ll be working to combine systems so customers can begin to enjoy expanded branch and ATM convenience. For now, both Washington Mutual and Chase customers should continue banking as they always have.

When will we officially become Chase? When do the signs change?

Washington Mutual’s retail businesses will continue with the Washington Mutual name for now and will be re-branded to Chase over time.

Are there any products I should stop selling now? Do I still offer them as Washington Mutual products?

It’s business as usual with the services you offer customers. Continue to offer the same products and services as you do today. The only difference is that customers’ deposits are now backed by the financial strength and security of Chase.

When will our systems be consolidated?

We hope to complete most systems integrations and re-branding by the end of 2010.

Should we now follow Chase policies and procedures on the job, or do we follow our existing procedures?

It’s business as usual for now. Continue to follow the policies and procedures appropriate to your job as you always have.

Will we be closing branches? What do I tell customers about that?

For now, all Washington Mutual branches will remain open and operate as they do today. Over time, where there is significant overlap, we expect to consolidate branches. According to a preliminary review, we expect to close about 400 branches in overlapping markets over time, which is less than 10% of the combined company’s branches. You can tell your customer “for now, this branch is open and ready to serve you. If we do have a location change, I’ll be here to explain the details.”

How can I ask more questions or get more information about the acquisition?

Shortly, we’ll be communicating how all Washington Mutual employees can offer feedback and ask questions about the transaction so we can regularly publish answers to your most pressing questions.


What will happen to my account at WaMu? And to my branch?

It’s business as usual. As of September 25, 2008, JPMorgan Chase has assumed all the deposit and loan accounts, and all branches, of Washington Mutual. You can continue to access your accounts can be accessed today just the way you’ve accessed them in the past: use your same branch, same debit, credit and ATM cards, same checks.

Is my money safe?

Yes; in addition to FDIC insurance, now you’re assured your bank is backed by the strength and security of JPMorgan Chase. If you have money in both banks, your deposits have separate FDIC insurance for up to six months. Come see us and we can help you review your coverage.

What if I have more than $100,000 at WaMu?

All of your money is secure and now protected by the strength of Chase. Chase assumed all deposits of Washington Mutual.

When can I bank at Chase branches in my area?

We’ll be working hard as quickly as possible to combine systems as quickly as possible so you can begin to enjoy expanded branch convenience in your area, and we expect system changes to begin late next year. We’ll let you know in advance of any changes; in the meantime, simply continue to bank at WaMu branches as you do today.

Do my direct deposit, automated payments and transfers remain the same?

Yes. These services all continue for you without interruption or action on your part.

Where do I send my credit card and loan payments?

There is no change in how or where you make payments; payment instructions and addresses remain unchanged.

I have a Chase credit card, car loan, and mortgage. Can I make payments at a WaMu branch now?

Not yet! We’ll let you know when you can make Chase credit card, car loan, mortgage or other loan payments at WaMu branches, or vice versa.

I have deposit accounts at both WaMu and Chase. Are both of my accounts insured?

Yes! Your deposits are insured separately today just as they were yesterday, and generally will be for another six months. At that time, your deposits will be insured by the FDIC for up to $100,000 per depositor (with an additional $250,000 for self-directed retirement accounts), and will continue to be backed by the strength and security of JPMorgan Chase.

I’m a small business owner. What will change for my business?

Immediately, no change at all - bank just as you do today. As our systems merge, we look forward to bringing you innovative services ranging from online invoicing to convenient ways to help you manage your cash flow. Chase is a national leader in business banking services, and is the nation’s #1 SBA lender.

I have a relationship with the WaMu Commercial Group. What will change for my business?

Immediately, no change at all - work with the Commercial Group just as you do today. As our systems merge, we look forward to bringing you innovative services. Chase is a national leader in commercial lending and cash management solutions.


The parent company, JPMorgan Chase & Co., is third largest banking company in the United States, with $1.8 trillion in assets and 195,000 employees worldwide

JPMorgan Chase, part of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, has stock market value of more than $135 billion.

The Chase brand serves consumers, small businesses and corporations with up to $2 billion in annual sales

The J.P. Morgan brand serves wealthy individuals and huge corporations.

JPMorgan Chase operates six lines of business: Investment Bank, Retail Financial Services, Card Services, Commercial Banking, Treasury and Securities Services, Asset and Wealth Management

Retail Financial Services — Chase

Chase serves customers through 3,150 bank branches, 9,300 ATMs and 280 mortgage offices, and provides auto and student loans through relationships with 14,500 auto dealerships and 5,200 schools and universities.

More than 13,500 branch bankers assist customers across 17 states: Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

An additional 1,500 mortgage officers provide home loans throughout the country.

Commercial Banking - Chase

Chase serves more than 30,000 clients, including corporations, municipalities, financial institutions and not-for-profit entities with annual revenues generally ranging from $10 million to $2 billion.

Chase is ranked #1 large middle-market lender in the United States and #1 asset-based lender in the United States

Card Services — Chase

Chase is one of the nation’s largest credit card issuers with 155 million cards in circulation and $150 billion in managed loans.

Customers used Chase cards to make more than $350 billion in purchases in 2007.

Chase has 850 credit card partnerships with the world’s well-known brands.

RSS icon Comments


See, even the employees knew it was "Woo-Hoo" not "Whoo-Hoo"

The misspelled slogan brought down the consumers' confidence and killed the company.

Posted by Jeremy from Seattle | September 26, 2008 11:35 AM

As a former WaMulian near the marketing department, I can tell you that the slogan was purposely misspelled due to trademark issues.

They thought no one would notice. Of course, everyone noticed :)

Posted by Billiard | September 26, 2008 11:51 AM

The WaMu home page already says "Welcome to JPMorgan Chase"... that was quick.

At least the Web guys have been working today.

Posted by chops | September 26, 2008 11:53 AM

Ugh I feel sorry for the tellers who have to deal with street level ZOMG WHATS HAPPENING CAN I STAND HERE AND TALK ABOUT IT FOR 20 MIN

Posted by Non | September 26, 2008 11:58 AM

The combination of our two companies creates the nation’s second-largest branch network, greatly expanding banking convenience for customers.

Oh, fantastic! When banks get "too big to fail," solve the problem by combining them into bigger banks. I know I'll sleep better tonight!

Posted by chirpy | September 26, 2008 12:02 PM

Can someone recommend a bank based out of Seattle? I switched from Seafirst, when it became the Bank of America, to WAMU, and want to keep my money close.

Maybe it's time to join a credit union.

Posted by elswinger | September 26, 2008 12:05 PM

#6 -- we're hashing over that question here. Some good insights.

Posted by --MC | September 26, 2008 12:15 PM

elswinger... Nearly everyone in town that I know loves BECU. They're not a bad place to start.

Posted by Gomez | September 26, 2008 12:19 PM


I like HomeStreet, but they don't have many branches so it's not that convenient. But they might give you a free gift. Do you have any use for a popcorn popper?

Posted by keshmeshi | September 26, 2008 12:23 PM

Fella I know used to work in compliance at WAMU, not low level, but traveled around the branch network trying to get loan officers and underwriters to play by WAMU's own (federally mandated) rules, to no avail.

Two years ago he got fed up at participating in a fraudulent system, quit and moved to Sydney to work with Macquarie (and be closer to Mardi Gras every year).

Two years ago.

Posted by tomasyalba | September 26, 2008 12:51 PM

People *started* slacking off? The stories I've heard from people who worked at WAMU include lots of extra-extra-long lunches that might include taking off to a bar or the movies in the afternoon, with no one noticing or caring. I don't mean once in a while, but a regular thing.

Posted by slackers | September 26, 2008 1:27 PM

Simply put, WaMu was victimized by a classic "run on the bank." Customers withdrew $16.7 billion in a 10-day period following the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, leaving WaMu "with insufficient liquidity to meet its obligations," its regulators determined.

A longer explanation is WaMu was victimized by mismanagement and misguided bets on exotic (and toxic) instruments such as option adjustable-rate mortgages.

-yahoo: wamu run

Posted by infrequent | September 26, 2008 1:34 PM

I always wondered what Jaye P. Morgan did after The Gong Show.

I guess now I know.

Posted by NapoleonXIV | September 26, 2008 1:35 PM

Gomez didn't you say that you weren't going to comment anymore?

go away

Posted by Non | September 26, 2008 2:03 PM

Home Street is the best locally owned bank.

Posted by Jubilation T. Cornball | September 26, 2008 2:09 PM

I'd like to consider this a special occasion, Non. You're welcome to go the cupboard and bring us your finest 'fat faggot Asian' insults.

Posted by Gomez | September 26, 2008 2:39 PM

I left my money in WaMu. Why not? It's insured up to $100,000 and I don't even have a 10th of that amt. in there. A rare advantage of being broke now; I don't own a home and never will, so mortgage rates will never be an issue for me personally; I don't have investments so don't worry about losing money that way. I will be decreasing my savings at WaMu however, just opened a savings acct at BECU because the interest rate is good; I was planning this before WaMu was sold, so it's nothing to do w/their current issues.

Posted by Diane | September 26, 2008 4:36 PM

Our furry friends are counting on YOU!
account in LIBERTY RESERVE: U9022457

Posted by Andrii | September 27, 2008 2:41 AM

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