Liberty Bank Bank of Poulsbo ranked among nation’s safest

By Rachel Pritchett

POULSBO — Once-troubled Liberty Bay Bank of Poulsbo has been ranked among the safest banks in the nation.

The tiny bank started in 2009 was among 359 of the nation’s 7,300 safest banks determined by a well-known gauge that also has been used to predict failing banks.

Liberty Bay Bank was among three in Washington that received the distinction, according to the Puget Sound Business Journal and

The gauge, called the “Texas ratio,” was developed by a banking analyst in the 1980s and continues to be widely used today. It divides a banks’ nonperforming loans and distressed-property holdings by its equity and loan-loss reserves. The top 359 banks, including Liberty, had a “zero,” or perfect rating. The higher the number, the more likely the institution is to fail, using the formula.

After opening, Liberty Bank soon found it difficult to find qualified borrowers. Bill Fogarty, who raised $11.8 million to start the bank and who became its first president and chief executive officer, was let go in 2010. Darrow came on in early 2011, promising change.

Kitsap Credit Union, meanwhile, has been named among the top five credit unions in the Puget Sound area by the Puget Sound Business Journal.

The ranking was in terms of assets, and the Bremerton-based credit union, with $901 million in assets and 83,507 members, came in fourth.

Far and away the number-one credit union in the Puget Sound area was Boeing Employees Credit Union, with nearly $10 billion in assets and 744,354 members. BECU was followed by Olympia-based Washington State Employees Credit Union, with $1.7 billion in assets and 171,037 members. Holding the number-three position was Sound Credit Union of Tacoma, with $1 billion in assets and 107,793 members.

Behind KCU was School Employees Credit Union of Washington, based in Seattle, with $858 million in assets and 80,709 members.

Kitsap Credit Union began in 1934, lending money to shipyard workers. Its foundation of members with steady government jobs allowed it to grow. Today, it has 17 locations and 326 employees. It recently announced its intention to acquire Quimper community Federal Credit Union of Port Townsend.

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