The Bank of America Corporation (abbreviated as BofA) is an American multinational investment bank and financial services company based in Charlotte, North Carolina with central hubs in New York City, London, Hong Kong, Minneapolis, and Toronto. Bank of America was formed through NationsBank’s acquisition of BankAmerica in 1998. It is the second largest banking institution in the United States, after JP Morgan Chase. As a part of the Big Four, it services approximately 10.73% of all American bank deposits, in direct competition with Citigroup, Wells Fargo, and JPMorgan Chase. Its primary financial services revolve around commercial banking, wealth management, and investment banking.
Founded as the Bank of Italy by Amadeo Pietro Giannini in 1904, it provided Italian immigrants who faced service discrimination various banking options. Originally headquartered in San Francisco, California, Giannini renamed his bank Banca d’America e d’Italia (Bank of America and Italy) in 1922, and expanded further into California. The passage of landmark federal banking legislation facilitated rapid growth in the 1950s, quickly establishing a prominent market share. After suffering a significant loss after the 1998 Russian bond default, BankAmerica, as it was then known, was acquired by the Charlotte-based NationsBank for US$62 billion. Following what was then the largest bank acquisition in history, the Bank of America Corporation was founded. Through a series of mergers and acquisitions, it built upon its commercial banking business by establishing Merrill Lynch for wealth management and Bank of America Merrill Lynch for investment banking in 2008 and 2009, respectively. Since both divisions carry the “Merrill Lynch” signage, the former is often referred to as “Merrill Lynch Wealth Management” to differentiate itself from the latter.
Both Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Merrill Lynch Wealth Management retain large market shares in their respective offerings. The investment bank is considered within the “Bulge Bracket” as the third largest investment bank in the world, as of 2018. Its wealth management side manages US$1.081 trillion in assets under management (AUM) as the second largest wealth manager in the world, after UBS. In commercial banking, Bank of America operates—but does not necessarily maintain retail branches–in all 50 states of the United States, the District of Columbia and more than 40 other countries. Its commercial banking footprint encapsulates 46 million consumer and small business relationships at 4,600 banking centers and 15,900 automated teller machines (ATMs).
The bank’s large market share, business activities, and economic impact has led to numerous lawsuits and investigations regarding both mortgages and financial disclosures dating back to the 2008 financial crisis. Its corporate practices of servicing the middle class and wider banking community has yielded a substantial market share since the early 20th century. As of August 2018, Bank of America has a $313.5 billion market capitalization, making it the 13th largest company in the world. As the sixth largest American public company, it garnered $102.98 billion in sales as of June 2018. Bank of America was ranked #24 on the 2018 Fortune 500 rankings of the largest United States corporations by total revenue. Bank of America was named the “World’s Best Bank” by the Euromoney Institutional Investor in their 2018 Awards for Excellence.