Dominic Ng, chairman and chief executive of East West Bank, which acquired Washington First International Bank, surprised Asian media by showing up in Seattle on June 11. Last year, when East West bought United Commercial Bank, only a few senior managers came.
This time, Ng brought a team of staff members with him. The media were kept in the dark until he announced the deal at the Seattle Hilton Hotel. After the press conference, he mingled, and I learned a few things about him.
Ng, 50, a Hong Kong native with parents from Shanghai, graduated from the University of Houston in 1977 where he earned his BA degree. Later, he became a Certified Public Accountant and worked for Deloitte & Touche for a decade.
A strategic thinker, Ng recognizes great deals and potential even though he is new to Washington state’s banking scene. Looking younger than his age, his peers say he is smart, decisive, and a big-picture guy. He casually buys both Chinese American niche banks and mainstream banks like buying rice for dinner. His leadership transformed East West from a Chinatown bank serving only an ethnic market to one with $1.4 billion in assets after he was named president in 1992. In 19 years, he was able to build an asset of $20 billion for East West.
The FDIC gave Ng two days to decide to buy Washington First. Two days later, Ng was in Seattle with his team, meeting with the FDIC and founders of Washington First and holding a press conference — all in one day. He is a strategic, speedy taskmaster and great team builder who retains talents. One of his team mates was actually president of a bank Ng bought.
Ng’s compensation was $4.29 million two years ago, according to a report from Executive Compensation. In 2009, he took a pay-cut and earned $2.52 million due to the financial crisis affecting the bank. Setting an example himself, accountability is high on his management criteria. ♦