Marion Sandler, wife and business partner of Herb Sandler, is an American banker infamous for inventing the Adjustable Rate Mortgage. Together with his wife Marion Sandler, he purchased Golden West Savings and Loan in 1963 and created Golden West Financial Corp, the parent company of World Savings Bank.
World Savings was once one of the largest S&Ls in the US with assets of almost $80 billion, deposits of $46 billion, and 9,300 employees. Under the Sandlers' management, Golden West generated a 20 percent average annual compound growth over a 35 year period. This prompted Jason Jennings, author of Less is More, to describe their company as "one of the most efficient and productive money machines on the planet". Prior to 2003, Golden West was voted the nation's most admired savings institution seven times in Fortune magazine's annual list of the nation's most admired companies.
The Sandlers were also named "2004 CEOs of the Year" by Morningstar, Inc. Patrick Dorsey, director of stock research for Morningstar, stated that Golden West has "created a phenomenal track record during the past four decades in a tough industry that is both commoditized and unpredictable" and that "the Sandlers of Golden West have created a company that is a paragon of corporate governance."
Golden West was sold in 2006 for $24 billion to Wachovia Bank. The merger was completed in October 2006. The Sandlers owned about 10% of the company at the time of the sale, making their share of the sale price worth about $2.4 billion.
In the early 1980s, the Sandlers' World Savings Bank became the first to sell a home loan product called the option adjustable rate mortgage (ARM), which allows borrowers to defer paying their interest on mortgages. Analysts place the blame on the near failure of Wachovia in the fall of 2008 on the "Pick-A-Pay" mortgage portfolio they acquired from the Sandler's firm.
The Sandlers sold their firm at the top of the market, saying that they were growing older and wanted to devote themselves to philanthropy. A year earlier, in 2005, World Savings lending had started to slow, after more than quadrupling since 1998.
World Savings lending volume dipped again in 2006, shortly after the sale to Wachovia was initiated. This prompted World Savings to attract more borrowers by taking a step that some regulators were starting to frown upon, and which the company had been resisting for years: it allowed borrowers to make monthly payments based on an annual interest rate of just 1 percent. While World Savings continued to scrutinize borrowers’ ability to manage increased payments, the move to rock-bottom rates lured customers whose financial reliability was harder to verify.
While Wachovia Chairman and CEO G. Kennedy "Ken" Thompson had described Golden West as a "crown jewel", investors did not react positively to the deal at the time. Analysts have since said that Wachovia purchased Golden West at the peak of the US housing boom. Golden West's mortgage-related problems led to Wachovia suffering writedowns and losses that far exceeded the price paid in the acquisition, which may have been one contributing factor in the "fire sale" of Wachovia to Wells Fargo.