About Golden West

Golden West Financial Corporation, the parent of World Savings Bank, was a unique and successful residential mortgage portfolio lender that operated from 1963 to 2006 with a reputation for quality lending, ethics and integrity. The following fundamental factors set Golden West apart from other mortgage lenders:

  1. Portfolio Lender. Golden West held its loans on its own books and did not securitize and sell its loans to third parties.
  2. Risk-Averse Business Model. Golden West’s risk-averse business model required keeping expenses and credit costs as low as possible. As a result, the company always focused on making high–quality loans, not on generating a high volume of loans.
  3. Conservative Underwriting. Golden West used traditional, conservative underwriting and appraisal practices to assess the quality of all its loans.
  4. Lowest Loan Losses. Golden West had the lowest loan losses in the industry. In its final eight years as an independent company (1998-2005), Golden West had a charge-off ratio (losses divided by outstanding loans) of zero.
  5. Safer ARM Mortgage. The portfolio adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) that Golden West used for 25 years was fundamentally different and safer for consumers than Option ARMs securitized and sold by mortgage bankers.
  6. Not a Subprime Lender. Golden West made low-yield, low loan-to-value (LTV) loans to a full spectrum of qualifying borrowers. The company did not originate subprime loans that charged higher rates to certain borrowers.
  7. Advocate for Sound Regulation. Golden West was the only financial institution that repeatedly made early warnings to regulators and others about risks in the banking system and called for greater regulatory oversight, transparency and accountability. View excerpts from Golden West’s letters to regulators.

This website uses original documents and the best available data to explain Golden West’s successful operating history for more than 40 years.