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Top 10 Asian American-Owned Banks

How they began and where they are

Of all the minority depository institutions (MDI) in the United States, the largest single group is composed of the 73 Asian or Pacific Islander American-owned banks. Collectively, these commercial banks and savings institutions amount to just one fewer than all the other MDIs combined.

The size and success of these banks say a lot about the growth of the Asian American community. Asian Americans are the fastest-growing racial group in the U.S. and are expected to be the largest immigrant group in 50 years' time.

Key Takeaways

  • The nation's 73 Asian or Pacific Islander American-owned banks are the largest single group of minority depository institutions (MDIs) by race.
  • Six of the top 10 banks have 51% or more of their voting stock owned by Asian and/or Pacific Islander American individuals.
  • Four of the largest banks have a majority of Asian and/or Pacific Islander American directors on their boards and serve communities that are predominantly Asian and/or Pacific Islander American.
  • For the 73 banks as a whole, the division is similar but more extreme: 61 in the voting-stock group and the rest in the majority-of-directors group.
  • East West Bank is the largest Asian American-owned bank in the U.S., with $60.8 billion in total assets.

What Is a Minority Depository Institution?

As of 2021, there are 4,839 commercial banks and savings institutions insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) in the United States. For the FDIC to classify one of them as an MDI, it must be "...a federal insured depository institution for which (1) 51% or more of the voting stock is owned by minority individuals; or (2) a majority of the board of directors is a minority and the community that the institution serves is predominantly minority. Ownership must be by U.S. citizens or permanent legal U.S. residents to be counted in determining minority ownership." In 2021, the Fed expanded this definition to include women-owned financial institutions.

Of the 73 Asian or Pacific Islander American-owned banks, 61 fall into the first category and the rest into the second. Among the top 10 banks, six are category one institutions; Bank of Hope, Hanmi Bank, CTBC Bank Corp. (USA), and Royal Business Bank are category two.

For the purposes of this article — due to the already significant number of active banks — Asian American-owned and managed credit unions that serve the community have been excluded. Our list focuses on the 10 most successful Asian American-owned banks currently operating. The article uses the term "Asian American-owned" in a broad sense, recognizing that stockholders own for-profit banks.

Why Asian American-Owned Banks Are Important

Banks play a crucial role in most people's financial lives. They offer checking and savings accounts for safely storing money, loans for both individual and business purposes, mortgages for real estate purchases, and credit cards. In short, banks provide essential tools for pursuing a career or just being able to function.

As already noted, Asian Americans are the fastest-growing racial group. Financial institutions that work with, are operated by, and understand the unique economic situations of both native and foreign-born Asian Americans will naturally grow with them.

The Asian American population is diverse, with a range of personal and business needs. Asian workers have a higher weekly median income than White, Black, and Latin individuals, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics data for Q4 of 2021.

But at the same time, income inequality is actually greatest among Asian American groups. According to the Pew Research Center, while income increased the most for higher-income Asian Americans between 1970–2016, it also increased the least for lower-income Asian Americans. All this provides a wide range of opportunities to serve banking requirements across the economic spectrum.

Below is our analysis of the banks that are doing the best.

Top 10 Asian American-Owned Banks

The top 10 Asian American-owned banks serve a variety of regions, many overlapping in their areas of service. The list below is organized according to total assets.

1. East West Bank

East West Bancorp is the publicly traded holding company of East West Bank, which is one of the biggest independent financial institutions based in Southern California. Founded in 1973, East West Bank was the first federally chartered savings institution to meet the financial needs of Chinese Americans in Los Angeles.

In addition to several branches throughout the United States, East West Bank also operates in Beijing, Chongqing, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Shantou, Shenzhen, and Xiamen. Since its inception, East West Bank has established partnerships with multiple nonprofit and community-based organizations in order to better aid underserved local communities.

  • Branches: Over 120 locations worldwide
  • ATMs: Any ATMs in the East West Bank, Allpoint, and MoneyPass networks
  • States: California, Georgia, Massachusetts, Nevada, New York, Texas, and Washington
  • Services: Personal (checking, savings, etc.), business (collections and deposits, SBA loans, etc.), commercial (loans and lines of credit, commercial real estate, and industry expertise), and international banking (personal international banking, business international trade, and business international banking), in addition to wealth management services (investment services, future planning, and business planning)
  • Assets: $60.8 billion
  • Availability: Online and brick-and-mortar

2. Cathay Bank

Originally formed in 1962, Cathay Bank is the oldest operating U.S. bank founded by Chinese Americans. A subsidiary of Cathay General Bancorp, Cathay Bank first stepped outside of California with a representative office in Hong Kong in 1985 (which later became a branch) and a New York branch in 1999. Cathay Bank has since further expanded to seven other states as well as Beijing, Shanghai, and Taipei.

Cathay Bank has been named one of the top 20 "Best Banks in America" by Forbes since 2016, was among the 100 biggest financial companies listed on the Nasdaq (based on market capitalization) in 2000, and the Cathay Bank Annual Charity Golf Tournament has raised over $1.7 million for nonprofits in Southern California since 1977.

  • Branches: Over 60 locations worldwide
  • ATMs: 53 ATMs, in addition to any ATMs in the PULSE Select and MoneyPass networks
  • States: California, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Texas, and Washington
  • Services: Personal (checking, savings, etc.), business (lending, credit cards, etc.), and international banking (foreign exchange services, foreign exchange market update, etc.), in addition to wealth management services (insurance, annuities, etc.)
  • Assets: $20.9 billion
  • Availability: Online and brick-and-mortar

3. Bank of Hope

A subsidiary of Hope Bancorp, Bank of Hope is both the first and currently the only super-regional Korean American bank in the U.S. Bank of Hope was originally founded in Los Angeles, enabling it to provide financial services to the largest Korean American community in the nation. Additionally, Bank of Hope has distributed millions of dollars to students through its Hope Scholarship Foundation.

  • Branches: 54 full-service branches and 13 loan production offices.
  • ATMs: Any ATMs in the Bank of Hope, MoneyPass, and Allpoint networks
  • States: Alabama, California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Texas, Virginia, and Washington
  • Services: Personal (checking, savings and money market accounts, etc.) and business banking (certificates of deposits, business lending, etc.), in addition to wealth management services (financial planning, retirement planning, etc.)
  • Assets: $17.9 billion
  • Availability: Online and brick-and-mortar

4. Hanmi Bank

Formed in Los Angeles in 1982, granting it the distinction of being the first Korean American bank, Hanmi Bank was founded to help Koreatown's underserved immigrant community. Hanmi Bank offers a first-of-its-kind corporate social responsibility (CSR) program for its employees, known as the Hanmi Neighbor Volunteer Service Program, which is driven by individual work participation instead of corporate-organized events. Additionally, the bank's Hanmi Dream Scholarship for At-Risk Youth Program offers educational support to students; primarily foster children and those from homes affected by domestic violence (though it is available for other at-risk youths, as well).

  • Branches: 35 branches and nine loan production offices across the U.S.
  • ATMs: Any ATM in the MoneyPass network
  • States: California, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Texas, and Virginia
  • Services: Personal (checking, money market, and savings, etc.) and business banking (certificate of deposit, treasury management, etc.), in addition to loans (home loans, commercial lending, etc.)
  • Assets: $6.9 billion
  • Availability: Online and brick-and-mortar

5. Preferred Bank

Preferred Bank was founded in 1991; the bank's initial offering was oversubscribed at $20.18 million, which was likely the largest formation of a state-chartered bank in California's history. What distinguishes Preferred Bank from much of its competition is its specialization in servicing multiple market niches, such as middle-market businesses (manufacturing, service, and distribution companies) and international market businesses (importers and exporters).

  • Branches: California, New York, and Texas
  • ATMs: N/A
  • States: California, New York, and Texas
  • Services: Personal (checking, savings, and CDs, etc.), business (real estate and construction loans, trade finance loans and services), and commercial banking (cash vault services, ACH origination, etc.)
  • Assets: $6 billion
  • Availability: Online and brick-and-mortar

6. CTBC Bank Corp. (USA)

CTBC Bank was founded as China Trust Bank of New York (CTBNY) in 1989. The parent company, China Trust Holdings Corp. (now CTBC Financial Holding), acquired the Californian Trans National Bank in 1995 and renamed it the China Trust Bank of California (CTBCA), making it one of the first Asian American banks to operate on both the east and west coasts.

In 2014, CTBC Bank merged with Tokyo Star Bank, marking the first merger of a Japanese bank with a foreign-owned one. The holding company of CTBC bank also acquired Taiwan Life Insurance Co. in 2015.

  • Branches: 150 domestic branches and 110 overseas outlets
  • ATMs: Any ATMs in the CTBC Bank and Allpoint networks
  • States: California, New Jersey, and New York
  • Services: Personal (deposits, consumer loans & lines, and wealth management) and business banking (commercial real estate financing, small business financing, etc.)
  • Assets: $4.3 billion
  • Availability: Online and brick-and-mortar

7. Royal Business Bank

Having first opened in Los Angeles in 2008, Royal Business Bank is the youngest financial institution on this list. Over the years, Royal Business Bank has acquired multiple additional branches and earned several accolades, including a "Super Premier" status from Findley Reports in 2014, the Giraffe Award from the National Asian American Coalition, as well as placing third in S&P Global Market Intelligence's ranking of top-performing community banks with assets between $1 billion–$10 billion in 2016, and placing second in the same S&P Global Market Intelligence ranking the following year. Also in 2016, parent company RBB Bancorp listed its common stock on the NASDAQ.

  • Branches: Arcadia Branch (Arcadia, Calif.), Buena Park - Operation Center (Buena Park, Calif.), Cerritos Branch (Cerritos, Calif.), Diamond Bar Branch (Diamond Bar, Calif.), Irvine (Irvine, Calif.), Los Angeles Downtown Headquarters (Los Angeles, Calif.), Silverlake (Los Angeles, Calif.), Monterey Park Branch (Monterey Park, Calif.), Oxnard Branch (Oxnard, Calif.), Rowland Heights (Rowland Heights, Calif.), San Gabriel Branch (San Gabriel, Calif.), Westlake Village Branch (Thousand Oaks, Calif), Torrance Branch (Torrance, Calif.), Bridgeport (Chicago, Ill.), Chicago Main (Chicago, Ill.), Chinatown Square (Chicago, Ill.), Spring Mountain Branch (Las Vegas, Nev.), 59th Street Branch (Brooklyn, N.Y.), Brooklyn Main/Management Group (Brooklyn, N.Y.), Elmhurst Branch (Elmhurst, N.Y.), Flushing Center Branch (Flushing, N.Y.), Flushing South Branch (Flushing, N.Y.), Roosevelt (Flushing, N.Y.), and Bowery Branch (New York, N.Y.)
  • ATMs: "Available at most branches"
  • States: California, Illinois, Nevada, and New York
  • Services: Personal (personal loans and deposits), business (business loans and deposits), and international banking, in addition to cash management services
  • Assets: $4.2 billion
  • Availability: Online and brick-and-mortar

8. Bank of Guam

Founded in 1972, the history of "The People's Bank" is filled with humanitarian work; the earliest example of which, when Typhoon Pamela hit in 1976, the bank provided emergency loans for home repairs, more than $5 million in disaster food stamps, and a $5 million loan to the Government of Guam to assist in typhoon relief. By 1980, the Bank of Guam had grown into one of the major financial institutions in the Western Pacific.

In 2000, the Bank of Guam became the first local company to be listed on the Pacific Stock Exchange. Bank of Guam has also earned several awards; most notably, between 2006–08, it was inducted into the Chamber of Commerce Hall of Fame and received three American Bankers Association Financial Marketing Awards. BankGuam Holding, the parent company, was formed in 2011.

  • Branches: Chuuk Branch (Chuuk, Federated States of Micronesia), Kosrae Branch (Kosrae, Federated States of Micronesia), Pohnpei Branch (Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia), Yap Branch (Yap, Federated States of Micronesia), Andersen AFB Branch (AAFB Yigo, Guam), Dededo Branch (Dededo, Guam), Harmon Branch (Dededo, Guam), Hagatna Branch (Hagatna, Guam), Mangilao Branch (Mangilao, Guam), Tamuning (Tamuning, Guam), Upper Tumon Branch (Upper Tumon, Guam), U.S. Naval Base Branch (Santa Rita, Guam), Yigo Branch (Yigo, Guam), Rota Branch (Rota, Northern Mariana Islands), Chalan Piao Branch (Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands), Garapan Branch (Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands), Tinian Facility (Tinian, Northern Mariana Islands), Palau Branch (Palau), Majuro Branch (Majuro, Republic of the Marshall Islands), and San Francisco Branch (San Francisco, Calif.)
  • ATMs: Many locations worldwide
  • States: California
  • Services: Personal (checking, savings, and CDs, etc.) and business (loans and credit cards, merchant services, etc.) banking, in addition to insurance and investments services
  • Assets: $2.8 billion
  • Availability: Online and brick-and-mortar

9. Leader Bank

Having first opened its doors in 2002, Leader Bank has become a major community financial institution in the greater Boston area. Sushil K. Tuli, the current chair, founded the bank in May, starting with a single branch in East Arlington, seven employees, and $6.5 million in assets. Leader Bank was ranked as the top bank in regards to return on assets that is headquartered in Massachusetts for the third quarter of 2021.

  • Branches: 7 bank branches
  • ATMs: 8 branch locations
  • States: Connecticut and Massachusetts
  • Services: Personal (checking, savings, etc.) and business (accounts, commercial lending, etc.) banking as well as mortgages
  • Assets: $3.1 billion
  • Availability: Online and brick-and-mortar

10. Pacific City Bank

Pacific City Bank was founded in 2003 in California. The bank started out of a community need for banking and focuses on building up the communities in which it operates. The bank is involved in a variety of community programs, such as LA Saves, Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, and the PCB Scholarship.

  • Branches: 13 branches and 10 loan production offices
  • ATMs: California
  • States: California, New York, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Texas, Virginia, and Washington
  • Services: Personal (checking, savings, and CDs), business (checking, savings, business CDs, cash management), and loans.
  • Assets: $2.1 billion
  • Availability: Online and brick-and-mortar

How Many Asian American-Owned Banks Are There in the United States?

As of the fourth quarter of 2021, there are 73 Asian American-owned banks in the United States. These banks are spread across the nation with concentrations in the largest financial centers.

Is Bank of America Partly Owned by China?

No, Bank of America is not partly owned by China. It is an American bank. The bank did have a partnership with China Construction Bank and owned a stake in the Chinese entity, which it has since sold and no longer owns.

What Is China's Biggest Bank?

China's biggest bank in terms of total assets is the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC). China Construction Bank is the next largest.

Article Sources
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