CEO’s Remarkable Comeback: Bank He Founded Now Valued at $650M+

Stephen Nartey May 12, 2023
Kevin Cohee runs the largest black-owned bank in the United States as the chairman and Chief Executive of One United Bank. Photo credit: OneUnited Bank

Kevin Cohee runs the largest black-owned bank in the United States as the chairman and chief executive of One United Bank. This is a result of a wave of civil rights protests he has sparked in the financial sector in his attempt to bridge the racial gap and give the black community equity.

Kevin built One United Bank by merging black-owned banks from Los Angeles, and Miami to Boston, with the hope of providing ready capital access to the bank’s customers. He turned the entity’s financial status from $56 million in 1996 to over $650 million within a few years of taking over.

He began his journey as an investment banker at Salomon Smith Barney in the 1980s, however, his fortune changed when he started dating Teri Williams, who happened to be the youngest vice president at American Express at the age of 29. The two made a bold financial decision to purchase Military Professional Services, a firm that markets credit cards to military personnel, at a time when it was struggling financially.

Kevin improved the fortunes of the company and sold it to First Chicago Corporation in 1991. The couple married after the successful transaction and retired from working. However, being idle wasn’t a lifestyle Kevin was used to, so he staged a comeback from retirement. This time, to implement the vision of the civil rights movement preached by Martin Luther King on the need for the black community to control institutions to give them sound representation, according to all American speakers.

Kevin stepped in when Boston Bank of Commerce was struggling financially. With $1 million, he bought a significant part of the controlling interest in 1995. He was brought in to save the bank from liquidation and later appointed as the Chief Executive Officer by the board of directors. His aggressive approach to running a business quickly helped the institution to make profits.

Kevin proceeded to purchase other institutions like the People’s National Bank of Commerce from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation in 1999. When the entity stabilized, he acquired Founders National Bank in Los Angeles in an estimated $10.2 million stock swap in 2000.

His most recent acquisition was the Family Savings Bank in Los Angeles from FBOP Corporation. He had the community’s backing, and pressured the managers to make it a black-owned entity, instead of a white-holding company, according to the free library.

Kevin was raised in Kansas City, Missouri, and attended Harvard Law School, where he completed a Juris Doctor. In addition to his academic qualifications, he has an MBA and Bachelor of Arts from the University of Wisconsin, where he was actively involved in football. He is a recognized member of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.

Last Edited by:Editor Updated: June 11, 2023


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