Short Biography of Amadeo Giannini
Known to always cater to the needs of his customers, even if it meant giving loans on a handshake, Amadeo Giannini revolutionized the banking practices of the 19 th and 20 th centuries. A natural businessman who would do anything to make a deal, Giannini built an empire by going after a clientele neglected in the banking world – the hardworking middle-class citizen.
Born to Italian immigrants in California, Amadeo Giannini had to quit school early so he could work with his stepfather selling produce at their store. Since his father had been killed in a brawl before his eyes, Amadeo realized life was too short to not take chances. And, chances he took. In fact, he was made a partner in the business and retired from his store in his early thirties by selling his share to his employees.
Upon his retirement, Giannini was asked if he would be willing to join an advisory board for a bank that catered to Italian-Americans. When he did, he came up with the idea of offering services to the hard-working classes so they could start their own businesses, buy a house, a car, or reach their dreams. When other board members didn’t agree – believing that the business of banking was only for the rich – he left and started his own bank in a converted saloon he purchased. He even hired one of the bartenders to be its first teller.
On the first day, deposits totaled almost nine thousand dollars, an unbelievable amount back in 1904. As his bank grew and word of his honest practices spread through different communities, he gained many loyal customers and would do anything to seal a deal with them. It is also documented that he would do anything to beat his competitors, even if it meant riding a horse, swimming through a pond, and running a long distance just to obtain a signature, which actually happened.
The Bank of Italy soon became the Bank of America in 1928 when Giannini bought the old bank from New York. He brought all his banks under that one name. As his bank grew, he started opening up branches all around California and eventually all over the United States. Surviving the Great Depression and following his same goals, the Bank of America became the most expansive and richest bank in the world. For someone who always followed his dreams and held strong to his convictions, Amadeo Giannini is whom we have to thank for the modern way banks cater to each and every person, no matter their wealth.