Magazine article American Banker

East West Builds a Bridge to Cross-Selling

Magazine article American Banker

East West Builds a Bridge to Cross-Selling

Article excerpt

East West Bank and East West Insurance Agency, both of San Marino, Calif., were unrelated -- until Tuesday.

That is when East West Bancorp, the bank's $2.3 billion-asset parent company, bought the agency, with an eye toward building on things in common that go beyond their monikers.

Both companies focus on the Chinese-American population of Southern California, and the bank sees the deal as a way to broaden its offerings -- initially to commercial clients and eventually to its client base at large.

The deal "is an important milestone in the expansion of our noninterest income stream," said Dominic Ng, the bank's chairman and chief executive officer, in a press statement. "This acquisition offers excellent opportunities for synergies and cross-selling with our retail and commercial client base."

East West Bank has 29 branches in neighborhoods with large Asian populations. The likes of Charles Schwab & Co., Bank of America Corp. and Citigroup Inc.'s Salomon Smith Barney have targeted such groups as a growth market for investment products.

Asians are outpacing the nation in both population growth and median-income growth, according to Census Bureau figures. From 1990 to 1999 their aggregate after-tax buying power grew 102%, versus 57% for the U.S. population as a whole, according to a study by the University of Georgia's Selig Center for Economic Growth.

East West Bank has a natural leg up in that market. Each branch has employees who speak Mandarin and Cantonese, in addition to English and Spanish. …

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