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The Pete Best of Banking

Adam Rust's picture

Posted March 27, 2013

Pete Best, the original drummer of the Beatles, is perhaps the most famous example of someone who chose to leave a small business at an incredibly inopportune moment. Best played with Beatles from 1960 to

1962. Reports indicate that the band thought Best was a bit too conventional for their style. The evidence would seem to suggest that their concerns were well-founded, as Best ultimately found his lifelong calling as a civil servant at a Jobcentre in Liverpool, England.

Orra E. Monnette is the Pete Best of Banking.

With the millions of dollars that his father earned in Nevada during the Gold Rush, the young Monnette set about to invest in shares of several banks in Los Angeles. In 1909, Monnette attained a controlling interest in the American National Bank of Los Angeles. Monnette was a serial acquirer, a preference that seems to have rubbed off in the DNA of his successors. After ANB merged with the Citizen's Savings and Trust Bank of Los Angeles, Monnette purchased the Broadway Bank and Trust Company in 1911.

Monnette decided to unite those holdings into one common bank under the Citizen's Bank and Trust Company.

In 1923, Monnette decided to change the name again. He chose a simpler name: Bank of America.

The roaring 20s were good for Monnette and by 1928 he was approached by the founder of Bank of Italy. At the time, Monnette was anxious about the economy. He agreed to a merger in 1929, just months prior to the crash of the NYSE. Monette became co-Chairman of the new bank.

Unfortunately for Monette, his interests in the 1930s took him elsewhere. Monnette became an important leader in Los Angeles' civic life.

At a certain point, Monnette had a choice to make. He was involved with two different banks. Monnette chose to part ways with B of A.

Although he separated from B of A, Monnette kept on with another of the entities that he owned prior to the merger with Bank of Italy: the Lincoln Mortgage Company.

There is a lesson here: Monnette and Best let anxiety get the best of them at a moment in time when the future looked uncertain. Best left the Beatles before they released their first major album. He got married and settled down to a stable job with a certain future. Monnette saw that trouble was brewing in America's markets and gradually backed away from ownership in a nascent bank.