Washington Federal has dedicated a new division specifically to franchise, recently launching a formal Franchise Finance Division focused on helping established restaurant franchisees secure funding for their businesses and headquartering it in the bank’s Arizona Regional Headquarters office in Scottsdale. The division is being led by industry veteran Marisa Felker, who will oversee the program across Washington Federal’s eight-state footprint.
“In keeping with Washington Federal’s desire to increase its commercial loan portfolio in a profitable and sustainable way, restaurant franchise finance is a good fit,” says Felker, who, over a 25-year career, has served as a leader in franchise funding and also brings expertise in the areas of private banking and portfolio management. Explaining that franchise is a growing industry in the bank’s eight-state footprint — and is less vulnerable to the cycles that affect other sectors — she notes that franchisees are constantly upgrading their stores and there is a lot of consolidation going on among franchisees. “Both of these factors provide solid opportunities for loan growth going forward,” Felker says.
“In recent years, the restaurant franchise industry has been growing approximately 6 percent per year, and it is currently a $256 billion industry with no signs of slowing,” says Mike Brown, president of Washington Federal’s Arizona region. “While Washington Federal has been involved in helping franchisees for decades, with the addition of Marisa’s expertise, the time felt right to launch our own platform to help these businesses reach full potential.”
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