McCord steps down as CEO of Cascade

By Bryan Corliss

Herald Writer

Cascade Financial Corp. chief executive Frank McCord will step down May 1 after 12 years at the head of the Everett banking company.

He will be replaced by Carol Nelson, who joined Cascade as president and chief operating officer a year ago. The transition plan was announced Thursday.

Finding a successor is "probably the most important thing you do as a CEO," McCord said. He said that Nelson — who was his personal banker 20 years ago when she was at Seattle First National Bank — was the best possible choice.

"She will move this bank to the next level," McCord said.

McCord will continue as chairman of both Cascade Bank and its parent company, Cascade Financial.

During his tenure as CEO, McCord oversaw the transition of Cascade from a mutual thrift institution to a publicly traded commercial bank. Assets grew from $150 million to $760 million during that time, and annual earnings grew tenfold, from $500,000 to $5.6 million.

This is actually the second retirement for the 72-year-old McCord, who was managing partner of KPMG Peat Marwick LLP in Seattle before retiring in 1986. He came out of retirement to take the top job at Cascade in 1990.

He said he plans to continue his involvement in community organizations, including Rotary, the Snohomish County Housing Alliance and the group supporting the new Everett event center.

"There’s no end of opportunities for community service," he said.

McCord has "been the strategic force behind our transformation to a commercial bank, and we appreciate the contribution he has made to our success," Nelson said.

Nelson joined Cascade in February 2001 after 23 years with Bank of America and its predecessor, Seafirst. She was senior vice president and northern regional consumer executive for Bank of America before taking the new job.

In her first year with Cascade, the bank reported record revenues and profits, along with a 54 percent jump in fourth-quarter earnings and a 47 percent jump in profit for the year.

McCord attributed much of that to Nelson and a "truly outstanding" management team that she has assembled.

In the coming year, Cascade will concentrate on continuing its transition to a full-service commercial bank, Nelson said.

The goal is to grow its commercial lending business, in both business lending and real estate, she said. "We see those areas as the growth engines going forward."

Cascade operates 14 branches in Snohomish and King counties.

You can call Herald Writer Bryan Corliss at 425-339-3454

or send e-mail to corliss@heraldnet.com.

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