Business History Links
INDUSTRIES: Business History of Financial Services
business biographies  

March 18, 1850 - Henry Wells, William G. Fargo and John Butterfield formed express delivery business in Buffalo, NY through combination of Wells and Company; Livingston, Fargo and Company; and Butterfield, Wasson and Company; close of  Civil War - 900 offices in 10 states; 1868 - merged with Merchants Union Express Company to become American Merchants Union Express Company with Fargo as head of company; 1873 - name changed to American Express; 1882 - launched money order business; 1891 - introduced world’s first traveler’s cheque; 1905 - U.S. Immigration Department awarded contract to provide official currency exchange services to millions of immigrants entering United States through Ellis Island; 1915 - officially entered travel business; 1947 - U.S. Government licensed American Express to provide banking services to U.S. military personnel and their families stationed abroad; October 1, 1958 - introduced travel-and-entertainment charge card (paper printed with purple ink to resemble Travelers Cheques); 1959 - introduced plastic charge cards; 1963 - more than 1 million cards in use at approximately 85,000 establishments within, outside United States; 1966 - launched Gold Card; 1984 - acquired IDS (Investors Diversified Services); 1986 - earnings exceeding $1 billion for first time in its history; 1991 - group of Boston restaurateurs, upset about what they felt were American Express’ unfairly high rates, staged revolt, came to be known as Boston Fee Party (outside United States, card suppression – when merchants try to dissuade customers from using the American Express Card – began to rise); saved by strength of brand name; November 10, 2008 - Federal Reserve banking regulators approved application to convert to bank holding company to strengthen position in market turmoil, improve access to low-cost financing from Fed; would not fundamentally alter company’s core focus on credit card payments industry, would not require any significant divestitures.

November 1, 1864 - The U.S. Post Office introduced money order.

1878 - Frank J. Mackey founded Household Finance Corporation.

December 12, 1882 - Marcellus Flemming Berry, of Brooklyn, NY, received a patent for a "Check or Other Paper Representing Value" ("novel formation of or arrangement of the figures in [marginal] tables [of figures of different denominations], whereby the tearing through the tables is facilitated and a check or paper is produced which may be more conveniently used and which will afford greater security against fraud"); 1891 - American Express travelers cheque, oblong blue checks created by Berry in lieu of letters of credit (at request of James Congdell Fargo, president of American Express, younger brother of William Fargo), launched.

July 1891 - American Express launched Travelers Cheques; company placed ads in New York newspapers, printed 70,000 leaflets for European business.; as many as 10,000 circulars about travelers cheques sent to agents, with special attention to Thomas Cook & Son, European travel agency with worldwide network of 150 offices; August 5, 1891 - Hotel Hauffe, Leipzig, Germany, honored first American Express Travelers Cheque. .

February 22, 1908 - Henry Ittleson, former dry goods retailer, law student, real estate agent, stockbroker, founded CIT Corporation in St. Louis, MO; May 1908 - 22 businesses as clients (including Monsanto); 1916 - joined with Studebaker automobile company (4,000 dealerships) to provide financing to car buyers (put one-third down, paid balance in eight monthly installments); 1924 - went public; 1925 - business volume exceeded $148 million, recorded capital in excess of $26 million; 1926 - record profits of $3.5 million; 1928 - entered factoring market (Commercial Factors Corporation subsidiary nation’s largest factoring business in 1929); 1965 - $100 billion in financing volume since 1908 (half since 1955); 1969 - withdrew from auto financing, turned to personal, home equity loans, equipment leasing; 1971 - record-high earnings for 20th consecutive year; 1977 - more than 1,000 consumer finance offices; 1980 -- acquired by RCA Corporation; 1984 - acquired by Manufacturers Hanover Trust Corporation ($8 billion in factoring business volume, largest factoring unit in world); 1989 - 60% majority interest in CIT acquired by Dai-Ichi Kangyo Bank, Limited of Japan (DKB); 1997 - went public, earnings above $300 million for first time in its history; 2007 - 1 million clients across 30 industries in 50 countries.

Henry Ittleson - CIT Financial (

February 1950 - Frank McNamara, lawyer Ralph Schneider created Diners Club; presented small, cardboard card at Major's Cabin Grill, New York City restaurant; signed for the purchase; known as the "First Supper"; May 13, 1950 - Diner's Club issued first credit cards to 200 people, most of whom are personal friends and acquaintances; 14 New York restaurants agree to accept the card; 1949 - had had dinner, left wallet in another suit; wife paid, resolved never to be embarrassed again.

Frank McNamara - Diner's Club ( pop/diner.jpg)

1951 - Donald McCullough launched Finders Services, first credit card service in Britain; 1962 - merged Credit Card Services to become Diners' Club.

1958 – Bank of America launched BankAmericard in Fresno, CA (innovative "revolving credit" feature); 1970 - Visa incorporated in Delaware as National BankAmericard Inc. (NBI); 1974 - International Bankcard Company (IBANCO) formed to administer BankAmericard program internationally; 1976 - BankAmericard changed name to Visa; 1983 - launched global ATM network, provided 24-hour cash access to cardholders around world; 1997 - annual global sales volume reached $ trillion; 2001 - annual global sales volume reached $2 trillion; 2004 - global debit volume surpassed credit volume; 2007- completed corporate restructuring, created new global corporation, Visa Inc.; nation's largest electronic-payments processor; March 18, 2008 - went public in largest IPO in history ($17.9 billion).

October 1, 1958 - American Express introduced travel-and-entertainment charge card (paper printed with purple ink to resemble Travelers Cheques; 1959 - introduced plastic cards; 1966 - launched Gold Card; 2007 - 52 million card holders.

September 10, 1963 - American Express opened credit card service in Britain (previously, card holders could only settle their accounts in dollars).

1966 - Yasuo Takei founded Takefufi Corporation, consumer credit company. June 2006 - ranked Takei second richest man in Japan, worth $5.6 billion (behind Masayoshi Son, CEO of Softbank, worth $7 billion).

1983 - Jack Daugherty opened first Cash America Pawn in Irving, TX to serve under-banked population (those who could not get financial help from traditional financial lenders); 1984 - incorporated as Cash America Investments, Inc.; 1987 - went public; 1994 - opened 300th pawnshop; $1 billion loaned, accumulated over 14 million loan transactions; 1998 - opened 400th pawnshop, began franchising Cash America locations; 2003 - $5 billion dollars loaned; 2004 - acquired SuperPawn, largest remaining independently owned pawnshop chain in United States; 2008 - largest provider of secured non-recourse loans, commonly referred to as pawn loans, through over 500 locations in 21 states.

September 12, 1997 - Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) announced that annualized losses on bank credit cards had ballooned to highest level in 14 years; losses accounted for 5.22% of every $100 charged to nation's credit cards; Americans also declaring bankruptcy in record numbers (amounted to roughly half of "bank credit card charge-offs"); painted "a picture of highly leveraged consumers less able to handle their debts--and more willing than ever to walk away from them."

April 16, 2007 - SLM Corporation (Sallie Mae), nations largest lender to students ($142 billion loan portfolio), agreed to a $25 billion buyout from two private equity firms and two banks; largest deal ever for financial services firm.

(Advest Group Inc.), Donald Moffitt (1997). Advest: Celebrating a Century of Service to Investors, 1898-1998. (Lyme, CT: Greenwich Pub. Group, 63 p.). Advest Group, Inc.--History; Financial services industry--United States--History.

(American Express), Alden Hatch (1950). American Express, A Century of Service. (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 287 p.). American Express Company.

Henry Wells (

William Fargo William G. Fargo (

John Butterfield (

(American Express), Peter Z. Grossman (1987). American Express: The Unofficial History of the People Who Built the Great Financial Empire. (New York, Y: Crown Publishers, 389 p.). American Express Company--History.

(American Express), Bryan Burrough (1992). Vendetta: American Express and the Smearing of Edmond Safra. (New York, NY: HarperCollins, 494 p.). Safra, Edmond; Republic National Bank of New York--Management; American Express Company; Money laundering investigation--United States.

(American Express), Jon Friedman and John Meehan (1992). House of Cards: Inside the Troubled Empire of American Express. (New York, NY: Putnam, 272 p.). American Express Company; Financial services industry--United States; Credit cards--United States.

(American Express), Reed Massengill (1999). Becoming American Express: 150 Years of Reinvention and Customer Service. (New York, NY: American Express Co., 200 p.). American Express Company -- History; Financial services industry -- History.

(American Express), Aldo Papone (2005). The Power of the Obvious: Notes from 50 Years in Corporate America. (Los Altos, CA: Palo Alto Press, 189 p.). President and Chief Operating Officer, American Express TRS. Papone, Aldo; wisdom -- business; business philosophy. Author captures what really counts in business - things we all once knew but need to be reminded of.

(Canada Trustco), Philip Smith (1989). The Trust-Builders: The Remarkable Rise of Canada Trust. (Toronto, ON: Macmillan of Canada, 275 p.). Canada Trustco Mortgage Company -- History; Trust companies -- Ontario -- London -- History.

(C.I.T. Financial), William L. Wilson (1976). Full Faith and Credit: The Story of C.I.T. Financial Corporation, 1908-1975. (New York, NY: Random House, 376 p.). C.I.T. Financial Corporation--History.

(Countrywide Financial), Adam Michaelson (2009). The Foreclosure of America: The Inside Story of the Rise and Fall of Countrywide Home Loans, the Mortgage Crisis, and the Default of the American Dream. (New York, NY: Berkley Books, 354 p.). Former Senior Vice President of Marketing, Countrywide Financial. Mortgages --United States; Mortgage loans --United States; Foreclosure --United States; Financial crises --United States. Morality of career spent marketing mirages, market forces that destroyed a company; can corporations serve public good, profit at same time?; how to prevent meltdown from ever happening again.

(John Hancock Financial Services), David F. D'Alessandro, with Michele Owens (2001). Brand Warfare: 10 Rules for Building the Killer Brand: Lessons for New and Old Economy Players. (New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 185 p.). CEO, John Hancock Financial Services. Brand name products; Product management.

(Household Finance), Herman Kogan (1965). Lending Is Our Business; The Story of Household Finance Corporation. (Chicago, IL: Household Finance Corp., 147 p.). Household Finance Corporation.

Picture of Frank J. Mackey.



Frank J. Mackey - Household Finance (

(Lomas), William R. Simon, pictorial research by James A. Ledbetter (1994). Lomas, The First One Hundred Years: A History of the Lomas Financial Group. (Dallas, TX: Lomas Financial Corp., 502 p.). Lomas Mortgage USA--History; Mortgage banks--United States--History; Lomas Financial Corporation--History; Financial institutions--United States--History.

(National Mortgage and Agency Company of New Zealand Ltd.), Gordon Parry (1964). N.M.A.: The Story of the first 100 Years: The National Mortgage and Agency Company of New Zealand Ltd., 1864-1964. (London, UK: The Company, 247 p.). National Mortgage and Agency Company of New Zealand Ltd.--History.

(Provident Loan Society of New York), Peter Schwed (1975). God Bless Pawnbrokers. (New York, NY: Dodd, Mead, 217 p.). Provident Loan Society of New York.

(SBI Holdings, Inc.), Yoshitaka Kitao (2007). The SBI Group Vision and Strategy: Continuously Evolving Management. (Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 164 p.). CEO of SBI Holdings, Inc. (former finance arm of Softbank Corp.). SBI Group--History; Financial institutions--Japan--History--20th century; Financial institutions--Management; Information technology--Economic aspects--Japan. July 1999 - founded SBI as venture capital, incubation business; transformed it to independent holding company; steered it through Internet bubble, Financial Big Bang of Japanese deregulation; vision - customer value, shareholder value, human capital value combine to create prosperity for individuals and society.

(Simpson Inc.), William R. Simpson and Florence K. Simpson, with Charles Samuels (1954). Hockshop: The Fabulous Story of the Emperors of Pawnbroking. (New York, NY: Random House, 311 p.). Simpson (William) inc.--New York (State).

(UAPT-Infolink), C. McNeil Greig (1992). The Growth of Credit Information: A History of UAPT-Infolink Plc. (Cambridge, MA: Blackwsell Business, 354 p.). UAPT-Infolink (Firm)--History; Credit bureaus--Great Britain--History--19th century; Credit bureaus--Great Britain--History--20th century; Commercial credit--Great Britain--History--19th century; Commercial credit--Great Britain--History--20th century.

(Union Discount Company), George and Pamela Cleaver (1985). The Union Discount: A Centenary Album. (London, UK: Union Discount Company, 128 p.). Union Discount Company; discount houses -- Great Britain -- history.

(VISA International), Dee Hock (1999). Birth of the Chaordic Age (San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 345 p.). Hock, Dee, 1929- ; Hock, Dee; VISA International--History; VISA International; Businessmen--United States--Biography; Bank credit cards--History; Consumer finance companies--History.

(VISA International), Paul Chutkow (2001). Visa: The Power of an Idea. (Chicago, IL: Harcourt, 363 p.). VISA International--History; Bank credit cards--History; Consumer credit--History.

(VISA International), Patricia Kapferer et Tristan Gaston-Breton; preface de Michel Pebereau (2004). Carte Bleue: La Petite Carte Qui Change la Vie. (Paris, FR: Cherche Midi, 125 p.). VISA International; Bank credit cards; Bank credit cards--France.

(VISA International), Lloyd Constantine (2009). Priceless: The Case that Brought Down the Visa/MasterCard Bank Cartel. (New York, NY: Kaplan Publishing, 352 p.). Counsel to Constantine Cannon LLP. Inside account of largest anti-trust merchant action suit in U.S history; pitted Walmart, Circuit City, The Limited, Sears Roebuck, Safeway, class of five million stores against proposed merger by Visa/Mastercard; how more than $3-billion-dollar settlement came about; small boutique law firm beat four of largest law firms in world.

Philip Augar (2009). Chasing Alpha: How Reckless Growth and Unchecked Ambition Ruined the City's Golden Decade. (London, UK: Bodley Head, 272 p.). Former head of NatWest's global equity and bond business, Former Chief Executive of Schroder Securities. Financial services industry -- History -- Great Britain. Insider’s history of Britain’s financial services sector from early days of New Labour to present; how City’s golden generation turned London around; how major economy tried to reinvent itself as hedge fund crossed with offshore tax haven.

E. Denby Brandon, Jr., H. Oliver Welch (2009). The History of Financial Planning: The Transformation of Financial Services. (Hoboken, NJ, Wiley, 270 p.). Original board member of the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Chairman from 1989–1990; Chairman Emeritus of the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards. Financial planners -- History; Financial services industry -- History. History of profession, how financial planning movement has grown beyond United States; how work of key researchers has influenced rise of financial planning profession; "four initial engines of growth"; key players that define history of financial planning; emergence of Financial Planning Association (FPA).

Eds. Eric Bussiere, Youssef Cassis (2005). London and Paris as International Financial Centres in the Twentieth Century. (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 367 p.). Professor of Contemporary European History (University of Paris IV); Professor of Contemporary Economic History (University of Grenoble II). Financial institutions, International--England--London; Financial institutions, International--France--Paris; Banks and banking, International--England--London; Banks and banking, International--France--Paris; International finance. Long-term perspective on development of each centre, with special attention to pre-1914 years and to last decades of  20th century (contrasts these two eras of globalization).

Alya Guseva (2008). Into the Red: The Birth of the Credit Card Market in Postcommunist Russia. (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 224 p.). Assistant Professor of Sociology (Boston University). Credit cards --Russia (Federation); Consumer credit --Russia (Federation). 1988-2007 - emergence of credit card market in post-Soviet Russia;  dynamics of market building in social structure, creative use of social networks in facilitating exchange in mass markets, building markets for mass consumption.

Ed. Clifford E. Kirsch (1997). The Financial Services Revolution: Understanding the Changing Role of Banks, Mutual Funds, and Insurance Companies (Chicago, IL: Irwin Professional Pub., 565 p.). Financial services industry--Government policy--United States; Banks and banking--Government policy--United States; Insurance--Government policy--United States; Mutual funds--Government policy--United States; Financial services industry--Law and legislation--United States; Banking law--United States; Insurance law--United States; Mutual funds--Law and legislation--United States.

Herman E. Krooss and Martin R. Blyn (1971). A History of Financial Intermediaries. (New York, NY: Random House, 254 p.). Financial institutions--United States--History; Finance--United States--History.

Stephen Krupnik (2009). Pawnonomics: A Tale of The Historical, Cultural, and Economic Significance of the Pawnbroking Industry. (Seattle,. WA: BookSurge Publishing, 92 p.). Founder, Past President of Indiana Pawnbrokers Association. History of pawn broking industry; common myths, misconceptions about pawn broking; innermost workings, machinery of industry; dark reputation of pawn broking, how the business of usury can sometimes be its own worst enemy.

Lewis Mandell (1990). The Credit Card Industry: A History. (Boston, MA: Twayne Publishers, 176 p.). Credit cards--United States--History; Consumer credit--United States--History.

Ronald J. Mann (2006). Charging Ahead: The Growth and Regulation of Payment Card Markets. (New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 308 p.). Credit cards; Credit cards--Law and legislation. First comprehensive treatment of credit cards in the global economy. Relation between rise of credit card use, broader macroeconomic phenomena (consumer borrowing, savings, bankruptcy); how credit cards are used differently around world.

Robert Mayer (2010). Quick Cash: The Story of the Loan Shark. (DeKalb, IL: Northern Illinois University Press, 328 p.). Professor of Political Science (Loyola University). Usury; Loans. 'Payday Lenders', advance small sums of cash at high interest rates until payday,  existed long before organized crime entered trade; predatory lenders have endured through regulation, prohibition, rise and fall of mob since late 1800s; fill niche in credit market; most large cities still hotbed of usurious lending, landscapes dotted with inviting, brightly colored storefronts; consequences of high-interest lending for people who borrow at steep prices, for society as whole; consistently traps many wage earners who pawn postdated checks, leaves them worse off; payday lending regulations vary widely throughout country; focus on Chicago; story behind  unscrupulous lending operations that feed off America’s current tough economic times.

Gary Rivlin (2010). Broke, USA: From Pawnshops to Poverty, Inc.: How the Working Poor Became Big Business. (New York, NY: Harper Business, 358 p.). Reporter (New York Times). Working poor -- United States; Poverty -- United States; ]United States -- Economic conditions -- 21st century. One of America's largest, fastest-growing industries; voracious, often predatory poverty business has flourished over past two decades--at enormous cost to economy, society, democratic institutions; companies that cater to, prey on working poor; high-priced products for sale to credit-hungry working poor; industry larger than casino business; pawnbrokers and check cashers can grow very rich off those with thin wallets.

Guy Stuart (2003). Discriminating Risk: The U.S. Mortgage Lending Industry in the Twentieth Century. (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 248 p.). Associate Professor of Public Policy (Harvard's Kennedy School of Government). Mortgage loans--United States; Discrimination in housing--United States; Discrimination in housing--Illinois--Chicago; Race discrimination--United States; United States--Race relations. 

Charles B. Wendel (1996). The New Financiers: Profiles of the Leaders Who Are Reshaping the Financial Services Industry (Chicago, IL: Irwin Professional Pub., 342 p.). President, Financial Institutions Consulting. Financial services industry--United States--Case studies; Capitalists and financiers--United States; Executives--United States.



Center for the Study of Financial Innovation                                                                                          Founded as a not-for-profit think-tank in 1993 by Andrew Hilton and David Lascelles, the Centre conducts research, publishes reports and holds round-table meetings, all centered on the latest developments in the financial services sector. There is no ideological brief, beyond a belief in open and efficient markets, and in frank debate of the issues that will shape the sector's future. The CSFI holds about 80 round-table discussions a year on a variety of topics and has published more than 90 reports in its 17-year history.


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