TACOMA, Wash. (3/2/11)--The boards of Watermark CU, Seattle, and Sound CU, Tacoma, Wash., unanimously approved a merger agreement between the two organizations. The agreement is the first formal step in the merger process. Approval from state and national regulators and Watermark CU members are the next steps. The continuing credit union would use Sound CU’s charter and would operate as Sound CU with its corporate office in Tacoma. “We explored all strategic alternatives. A partnership with Sound CU presented a great opportunity,” said Bob Valentine, chair of the Watermark Board of Directors. “Both Watermark and Sound employees share the goal of providing high-quality financial services, with professionalism and enthusiasm. Combining the credit unions would allow the ongoing organization to better serve member/owners with 21 full-service branches from Lynnwood to Olympia.” The $557.3 million-asset Watermark and $536.5 million-asset Sound share a similar history. Chartered in neighboring cities to serve telephone company employees, each has expanded membership to serve anyone who lives or works in Washington. “Watermark wants to expand to serve its members in the South Puget Sound region. Sound has been working to expand north,” said Richard Brandsma, Sound CU president/CEO. “Combining the strengths from both credit unions would expand service for both membership groups through improved product lines, expanded technology offerings, and financial stability. Members would benefit from this merger of two strong credit unions.” Brandsma will lead the combined organization with assets of $1.1 billion and 21 branches in Western Washington, which would make it the fourth largest credit union in Washington. The board for the ongoing credit union would consist of 12 members with equal representation from Watermark and Sound. Sharon Sanford, Watermark CU President/CEO is scheduled to retire in late 2011.