Cutting Edge Companies
This column highlights companies in the business of providing solutions to
social and environmental challenges. Featured companies are typically held in
the SmallCap Innovations portfolios offered to Walden’s clients.
UCBH Holdings, Inc. is banking on demographic shifts in California. Founded
in 1974, and brought public in late 1998, UCBH is the holding company for United
Commercial Bank¾ a full-service, commercial bank
primarily serving the ethnic Chinese community in California, and run mainly by
Asian Americans and Asian nationals. United Commercial Bank’s customers are
predominantly individuals and small businesses. United operates 46 offices,
including a branch in Brooklyn, New York, and in Hong Kong.
As of June 30, 2003, United Commercial had $5.3 billion in assets, placing it
among the largest minority-owned banks in the United States. Most of UCBH’s
executives and board members, including the Chairman and CEO, are Asian American
or Asian nationals. By comparison, the Federal Reserve Board (FRB) identified
111 minority-owned banks in the United States, with aggregate assets of $43.4
billion as of June 30, 2003. Of these banks, 40 are owned by Asian Americans.
With Chinese-Americans accounting for approximately 90 percent of United
Commercial Bank’s customers, the bank’s growth will continue to be fueled by
demographic changes in California. According to the Census Bureau, 2.7 million
Americans are ethnically Chinese. The figures for California and the United
States are expected to grow, in part through immigration. According to U.S.
Census Bureau data, the United States welcomed more than 400,000 immigrants from
China during the 1990s and nearly as many during the 1980s. Many of these
immigrants settled in California, the U.S. state closest to China after Hawaii.
For example, in 2000, approximately 29 percent of the 45,000 immigrants from
China settled in California, joining that state’s vibrant Chinese community.
United Commercial Bank has shown its investment commitment to the ethnic
Chinese community by earning an Outstanding rating on its most recent
Community Reinvestment Act performance evaluation. As the FDIC noted: United
Commercial Bank "exhibits an excellent record of serving the credit needs of the
most economically disadvantaged areas of its assessment areas, including
low-income individuals and very small businesses, in a manner consistent with
safe and sound banking practices. The institution is a leader in making
community development loans." At the time of the review, most of United
Commercial Bank’s loan portfolio was for multi-family residences. The bank is
now looking to target existing customers and others for small business loans. In
addition to growing its loan portfolio, UCBH is also growing its branch network,
primarily through acquisitions in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York City.