Amadeo Peter Giannini
The world’s largest bank, Bank of America (BoA), was founded not by an American but an Italian visionary – business leader Amadeo Peter Giannini. Giannini was the one who thought of extending his banking and financing services such as home mortgages, auto loans, and other consumer installment loans, to the working middle class.
Needless to say, the working middle-class flock in droves to BoA, and today, it holds more than $500 billion in assets.
Amadeo Peter Giannini – Migrating to Success
Born in 1870 in San Jose, California, Amadeo Peter Giannini was the son of two immigrants from Liguria near the city of Genoa in Italy. At the age of 14, Giannini left school and joined his stepfather in business. Giannini soon became a business partner before he reached 20. After 12 years in the business, Giannini decided to leave and distributed his shares among his employees.
Starting anew, Giannini joined Columbus Savings and Loan Society at North Beach. Giannini did well and became one of its board members. Coming from a family of working immigrants, Giannini suggested that it would be more profitable for the company to extend its services to the working middle class aside from wealthy businessmen. However, Giannini’s idea was not greatly favored by many directors.
Frustrated, Giannini’s family and friends supported him by raising $150,000 to start a new financial entity, Bank of Italy in 1904. It was with Bank of Italy where Giannini’s insights were made possible by servicing the average working class as the bank’s core market.
In its two years of operation, a huge earthquake that damaged millions of properties hit the city of San Francisco. Giannini’s Bank of Italy had been very instrumental in re-developing the city by providing loans to those who would like to rebuild what was damaged by the tragedy. Reforming its name, Bank of Italy soon became Bancitaly Corp. in 1919. This became the foundation of Giannini’s countrywide expansion.
In 1923, Giannini was actively involved in financing the wine and movie industries. In the same year, Giannini created a motion-picture loan sector helping famous names in the movie industry such as Charlie Chaplin and Walt Disney Pictures.
After some time, Giannini was able to acquire more banks including TransAmerica and the Bank of America. As his group of companies grew, Giannini left for Europe in 1930. Unfortunately, Giannini’s absence created a twist in TransAmerica’s new management.
Disappointed, Giannini went back and merged TransAmerica with Bank of America under the latter’s company name. Once again, Giannini tried to regain the confidence of his customers to the point of going from one house to another to market Bank of America’s services. Needless to say, he succeeded with his objective.
The Amadeo Peter Giannini Quick Bio
Full Name: Amadeo Peter Giannini
Birthplace: San Jose, California
Company: Bank of America
Industry: Banking and Finance
Key Success Traits: A man guided by integrity and principle, determined, a man of service
Though Bank of America now holds billions of dollars in assets; Giannini’s holdings were only $500,000 when he passed away in 1949. Surprisingly, Giannini wanted it that way so as to maintain the impression that his service was not tainted with greed.