Update: The name change took effect on June 2, 2014.
GE Capital Retail Bank (GECRB) has been informing customers that it will soon be changing its name to Synchrony Bank. The only change of significance for customers will be new ATM cards and new checks with the bank’s new name. Most everything will remain the same including account features, FDIC charter, routing numbers and the myoptimizerplus.com website.
GECRB is the bank that used to be MetLife Bank. The transition of MetLife Bank deposit products and accounts to GECRB was completed in January 2013. At that time, the name "GE Capital Retail Bank" seemed to be reasonable. It was a little long, but that wasn’t much of an issue. An issue did arise in May 2013 when GE Capital Bank came online as another internet bank. We then had two "GE Capital" Banks which made things very confusing. They are two separate banks with separate FDIC charters. However, both are currently part of the General Electric Company. That will soon change.
GECRB’s parent which is part of GE Capital will soon be spun off from GE as a public company called Synchrony Financial. This was announced publicly when GE filed form S-1 with the SEC in March. As part of the IPO, GECRB will be renamed Synchrony Bank. In addition to the details of the IPO and the name change, the S-1 indicated something very interesting about the bank. Here’s an excerpt:
A key part of our liquidity plan and funding strategy is to expand our direct deposits base as a source of stable and diversified low cost funding.
Our direct deposits include a range of FDIC-insured deposit products, including certificates of deposit, IRAs, money market accounts and savings accounts, which we offer under our Optimizer+Plus brand. In January 2013, we acquired the deposit business of MetLife, which is a direct banking platform that had $6.4 billion in deposits at the time of the acquisition.
Brokered deposits are primarily from retail customers of large brokerage firms. We have relationships with eight brokers that offer our deposits through their network.
Following this offering, over the next several years we are seeking to increase our direct deposits. The growth of direct deposits will be supported by a significant investment in marketing and brand awareness.
This explains the competitive rates we have been seeing at GECRB this year, and it should increase the chance that the rates will remain competitive. Interest rates on its savings account, short-term CDs and long-term CDs have all been near the top over the last few months. Below is a table of some of its competitive rates:
In late February GECRB increased the rate of its High Yield Savings account from 0.90% to 0.95%. As I described in my GECRB savings account review, this rate applies to all balances. It has a $5 monthly service fee, but it only requires a minimum balance of $50 to avoid the fee. This savings account became competitive back in November when the bank raised the rate from 0.15% to 0.90%.
GECRB remains financially healthy. It has an overall health grade at DepositAccounts.com of an A with a Texas ratio of 8.05% which is excellent (based on December 2013 data). The bank is still registered with the FDIC as GE Capital Retail Bank (FDIC Certificate # 27314). It has been a FDIC member since 1988. For more details, please refer to our financial overview of GE Capital Retail Bank (soon to be Synchrony Bank).