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When it comes to banking, Laurie Stewart has seen it all. She started her career as a teller at a regional thrift; later, she worked as a bank examiner, and more recently, she served as chief executive of a credit union, a mutual bank and a commercial bank. The latter progression was at a single institution: a credit union that was outgrowing its mission and that Stewart shepherded through multiple charter conversions.
On the latest episode of the ABA Banking Journal Podcast, sponsored by Velocity Solutions, Stewart tells her story. The credit union she led was founded to serve employees of a cooperative grocery wholesaler, which is “exactly what credit unions are supposed to be,” she explains. Instead of pushing at the limits of its tax exemption, the credit union decided to convert to a bank, proving that “you can pay taxes and still have a successful business model and take care of your clients,” Stewart explains. “Everyone wins.”
Today, Sound Community Bank continues to reinvent itself. Headquartered in dynamic downtown Seattle, the bank is investing in new technology like interactive teller machines to meet the needs of the city’s young, tech-savvy workforce. Stewart also discusses the role of banking in promoting housing affordability, a major concern in the Pacific Northwest. Sound Community Bank makes a wide variety of home loans, from manufactured homes to houseboats. “We believe in housing on every level,” Stewart says.
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