First Republic Bank is an American bank and wealth management company offering personal banking, business banking, trust, and wealth management services, catering to low-risk, high net-worth clientele, and focusing on providing personalized customer experience. The bank specializes in delivering personalized relationship-based service through preferred banking or trust offices in the United States, including San Francisco, Palo Alto, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Newport Beach, San Diego, Portland, Palm Beach, Boston, Greenwich, New York City, Jackson, Wyoming, and Manhattan Beach.
First Republic offers wealth management services through First Republic Wealth Advisors and First Republic Investment Management. Brokerage services are provided through First Republic Securities Company LLC and Trust services are provided through First Republic Trust Company.
Changes in ownership
First Republic was founded in 1985, starting as a small thrift company. Since its founding, it has undergone a series of ownership changes since 2007, beginning with its announced purchase by Merrill Lynch on January 29, 2007 for $1.8 billion to augment their private client business. The company was to be operated as a separate business of Merrill Lynch. The Merrill transaction was finalized on September 21, of 2007. Robert J. McCann, president of Merrill's Global Wealth Management group stated their purpose was to accelerate their strategy of "growing our high net worth, private banking business." Over the same weekend that Lehman Brothers Holdings filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, on September 15, 2008, Merrill Lynch and its subsidiaries were acquired by Bank of America.
In October 2009, just under 50% of First Republic was purchased by two private equity firms, Colony Capital and General Atlantic, and a group of other investors that included chairman James Herbert and former COO Katherine August DeWilde. The price was valued at about $1 billion. Both equity firms had prior relationships with First Republic Bank. Thomas J. Barrack, Jr., the head of Colony, had been a board member prior to the Merrill Lynch deal and General Atlantic had been an early investor in the firm putting up about $5 million in 1987. The deal was consummated on July 1, 2010. The London-based news service reported that an additional $800 million was provided by the new investment consortium to meet new capital requirements established by U.S. regulators.
Gradifi and recent events
In the years leading up to 2016, the bank's private wealth management unit acquired advisory teams such as Constellation Wealth Partners. By April 2016, First Republic had opened branches at the Facebook and Twitter Inc. headquarters in Silicon Valley. It also had various high-profile customers. Barron's in September 2016 decided to list First Republic Bank at 21 on its list of America's Top 40 Wealth Management Firms. By December 2016, First Republic Bank had $68 billion in assets.
In December 2016, the bank acquired Gradifi, a startup in Boston, for an unknown cash amount. Then two years old, Gradifi works with companies to help their employees pay off student debt, and First Republic had become a client in August 2016. Becoming a wholly owned subsidiary of First Republic, Gradifi continues to operate in Boston under its own name. Gradifi retained its customer base including PricewaterhouseCoopers, Natixis Global Asset Management and Penguin Random House.
Remaining a large American bank, in March 2018, the bank invested in CommonBond, a student loan financier. First Republic announced it would expand into Jackson, Wyoming in May 2018 with a new branch. Also that month, First Republic signed a deal to double its space at Rockefeller Center in New York City. In June 2018, Forbes ranked First Republic #220 on its Global 2000 list of "growth champions." Forbes also ranked it #268 on America's largest public companies. With 5,350 employees at the time, First Republic had a market cap of $15.8 billion and wealth management assets totaling $140.2 billion.