Riverview bank parent applies for conversion

Commercial charter aligns with its focus

By Gordon Oliver, Columbian business editor

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Riverview Bancorp Inc., parent of Riverview Community Bank, has applied to the Washington Department of Financial Institutions to convert its Riverview Community Bank to a state-chartered commercial bank., the company disclosed Friday in a filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The Vancouver-based bank currently is chartered as a thrift, a type of bank traditionally associated with mortgages and consumer services, and is regulated by the federal Office of Thrift Supervision. The change would align the bank’s structure with its emphasis on commercial banking services, while allowing Riverview to grow in Washington and Oregon, said Pat Sheaffer, chairman and chief executive officer of both the bank and its parent company.

“To me it’s a positive thing, and to our shareholders, it should be positive thing,” Sheaffer said. Customers should notice no difference from the structural change, he said.

Riverview has been on a steady course since 1998 to increase its emphasis on commercial banking, with more business loans and deposits and a range of business-related services including trust and asset management and a merchant bank card, Sheaffer said. Under the current regulatory structure, Riverview’s financial returns are often measured against other thrifts, when a more accurate comparison for analysts and investors would be against commercial banks offering a similar array of services, he said.

If the request is approved by state and federal agencies, Riverview would be regulated by the state Department of Financial Institutions and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. State regulators are based in Olympia, and FDIC staff in both Portland and Seattle have an understanding of local economic conditions, Sheaffer said. The Office of Thrift Supervision operates out of Dallas, he said.

Riverview Community Bank operates 17 branches, including twelve in the Portland-Vancouver area, and three lending centers. Riverview Bancorp reports $859 million in assets at the bank and Riverview Asset Management Corp. Its stock closed Friday at $3.01 per share, down 4 cents.