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WaMu pushes on the funding frontiers

Washington Mutual has broken new ground in several areas during the past year. Not least as the first American issuer of a covered bond. However, it made a substantial impact with its hybrid issuance too. WaMu’s treasurer, Robert Williams, explains his bank’s financing strategy to Alex Chambers.

WASHINGTON MUTUAL TREASURER Robert Williams aims to take a measured view on funding. “We focus on making sure that we have a comprehensive funding or liquidity plan and we also spend quite a bit of time making sure we have a comprehensive and extensive capital plan,” he says. “We are constantly looking at our funding, liquidity/capital needs on a four- or five-quarter forecast view.”

WaMu optimizes its funding mix based on its balance sheet requirements and following discussions with its regulator, the Office of Thrift Supervision, and with the rating agencies in mind. It then looks at forecast balance sheet growth and creates a model and a funding plan that achieves the right liquidity profile and the appropriate degree of diversification. Although it has an overall framework within that, there is a fair degree of flexibility so it can react to market dynamics and internal institutional requirements.

“You want to have broad and diversified sources of funding and capital and you want to have the structuring ability within your organization, and the capability to effectively reach out to all of those constituencies – whether it’s an investor base in Europe or an investor base in Asia, or an investor base domestically in the US, who also have specific needs in terms of structures that they like from a funding standpoint or a capital standpoint,” he says.

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