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Word Count: 790
Bank of America The massive Bank of America traces its roots to the Bank of Italy known as the little fellows bank founded by A P Giannini in 1904 Giannini a produce merchant in San Francisco inherited a seat on the board of directors of a savings bank in the citys Italian neighborhood from his father-in-law Believing that the local banks excluded working-class consumers seeking smaller loans Giannini resigned from the board and opened his own bank By making loans as small as 25 selling stock to a small group of loyal investors and going door-to-door to solicit customers Giannini launched what became the first network of branch banks serving local communities in San Francisco After the devastating earthquake and fire that struck San Francisco in 1906 Gianninis bank was the first to open for business Three years later Bank of Italy purchased San Jose Bank beginning a process of acquisitions and expansion By 1918 Bank of Italy had 24 branches In 1921 Giannini purchased the Bank of America of Los Angeles with its 21 branches In this way Giannini sidestepped the order of the Federal Reserve Board prohibiting member banks from opening new branches After the US Congress relaxed the restrictions on branch banking in 1927 Giannini established Bank of America branches in several western states In 1928 Giannini formed the Transamerica holding company In 1930 under Transamerica he consolidated Bank of Italy and Bank of America as the Bank of America National Trust and Savings Association Giannini retired and traveled to Europe in 1931 but he returned to regain control of Transamerica that same year after he learned that his successor had begun selling off the companys assets Bank of America survived the Great Depression of the 1930s when massive unemployment led to reduced deposits and large numbers of unpaid loans and by 1936 ranked as the fourth largest financial institution and the second largest savings bank in the United States with
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