What’s the Latest Development?

When thinking of a successful bank, many people arrive at massive financial institutions like JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley. As it turns out, in this case, size isn’t all that matters. Ameraisa, a New York bank started 24 years ago, rates “best among America’s 4,300 small banks” according to SNL Financial, a research firm. And not only does it outperform small banks, its returns are higher than the largest institutions as well. “Amerasia’s return on its $290m in assets approached 2% in the first half of 2012,” while “JPMorgan Chase, often said to be the country’s best-run financial institution, struggles to make a 1% return on its $1.8 trillion asset base; Morgan Stanley’s return is less than half as much as that.”

What’s the Big Idea?

Amerasia was started in 1987 by James Huang and several other Taiwanese immigrants. “In Taiwan, says Mr Huang, the goal of every banker is to know his clients so well he can be a matchmaker for their children.” He has followed that principle by loaning out money to local businesses, small stores and restaurants. He has avoided more risky practices taken up by larger banks, like investing in shares or bonds, as they “cannot be subjected to the same sort of intimate credit appraisal.”

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