A.P. Giannini : Banker of America / Felice A. Bonadio.

Bonadio, Felice A. [Browse]
Berkeley : University of California Press, [1994], ©1994.
xxiii, 429 pages : 29 pages of illustrations ; 24 cm


Summary note
  • A. P. Giannini is one of the twentieth century's great success stories and one of the most influential figures in the modern history of California and the West. From his beginnings selling produce on the San Francisco waterfront in the late 1800s, he went on to transform a one-room bank into the world's largest and wealthiest privately owned financial institutions: Bank of America and the Transamerica Corporation.
  • Ultimately, Giannini's innovations and the competitiveness engendered by his aggressive business style revolutionized banking throughout the country, redefining forever the role of banks and bankers. The son of Italian immigrants, Giannini began working on the waterfront at the age of 15. Some twenty years later, he quit the produce business and opened the Bank of Italy, a "people's bank" catering to working-class Italians in the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco.
  • Ignoring the rules of the traditional banking establishment, Giannini vigorously pursued the business of the immigrant populations with ad campaigns and multilingual tellers, building his bank through branch banking, liberal credit terms, and aggressive campaigns for new depositors. Even after the Bank of Italy was well established, Giannini was not above going door to door, as he had in his days of selling produce for commission, to solicit new depositors.
  • By the end of World War II, Giannini's bank, now called Bank of America, had become the largest and richest privately owned financial institution in the world.
  • Once his career in banking was launched, Giannini devoted his life to achieving his goal of democratized banking, at the same time building a financial empire of unprecedented stature. He was a single-minded man, honest, ruthless, shrewd, and often resentful of the outsider status accorded him as an Italian American. Although he could have made a fortune many times over, he had no desire for personal wealth: on his death in 1949 his estate totaled less than $500,000.
  • Despite a fierce temper and stubborn resolution that his way was the only way, he inspired fervent loyalty and almost missionary zeal among both employees and customers.
  • Felice A. Bonadio has scoured the Bank of America Archives (access to which is now severely limited) and interviewed members of Giannini's family and former Bank of America executives. His extensive research and flair for storytelling make this a fascinating story of the man whose drive and genius turned a one-room bank in North Beach into one of the most important and successful financial institutions in the country.
Bibliographic references
Includes bibliographical references (p. 409-418) and index.
0520082494 (alk. paper)
C - S
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