Amadeo Pietro Giannini
March 21, 2021
Amadeo Pietro Giannini was born in San Jose, California, to Italian immigrant parents. He was the first son of Luigi Giannini and Virginia (Demartini) Giannini. Luigi Giannini immigrated to the United States from Favale di Malvaro near Genoa, Liguria in the Kingdom of Sardinia to prospect in response to the California Gold Rush of 1849. When Amadeo’s Father was murdered by an employee over a payroll dispute, his mother took over the operation of the produce business.
In 1880, Virginia married Lorenzo Scatena who began L. Scatena & Co. Giannini attended Heald College but realized he could do better in business than at school. In 1885, he dropped out and took a full-time position as a produce broker for L. Scatena & Co.
Giannini worked as a produce broker, commission merchant and produce dealer for farms in the Santa Clara Valley. He was quite successful in that business.
Bank of Italy
Giannini founded the Bank of Italy in San Francisco on October 17, 1904. The bank was housed in a converted saloon as an institution for the “little fellow”. It was a new bank for the hardworking immigrants other banks would not serve. He offered those ignored customers savings accounts and loans, judging them not by their wealth, but by their character.
Branch banking was introduced by Giannini shortly after 1909 legislation in California that allowed for branch banking in the state. Its first branch outside San Francisco was established in 1909 in San Jose. By 1916, Giannini had expanded and opened several other branches. Giannini believed in branch banking as a way to stabilize banks during difficult times as well as expand the capital base. He bought banks throughout California and eventually Bank of Italy had hundreds of branches throughout the state.
Bank of America
Through mergers and acquisitions eventually the Bank of Italy became Bank of America, and one of the most successful Banks in the World.