Raul Anaya’s desk is littered with what he calls “deal toys” – plaques and trinkets commemorating big transactions he’s worked on, such as the construction loan that helped Anschutz Entertainment Group build L.A. Live. It’s a collection he’s put together over the past eight years as the head of Bank of America’s commercial banking practice in Los Angeles. But just over a year ago, he picked up an additional title: market president for greater Los Angeles. That makes him the public face of Bank of America in one of the bank’s biggest markets. While it’s a role the gregarious banker clearly relishes, he acknowledges it hasn’t been the easiest time to represent a major bank. Last summer, protesters gathered outside his home in a quiet Pasadena neighborhood to decry Bank of America’s foreclosure procedures. The incident made the local news, but what didn’t get mentioned was Anaya’s blue-collar background: The son of Mexican emigrants, Anaya was the first in his family to go to college; his father never made it past elementary school. Anaya recently sat down with the Business Journal to talk about how he went from working in his father’s auto body shop to climbing the ranks at Bank of America and arranging some of the biggest financing deals in Los Angeles.
Question: Where’d you grow up?
Answer: I was born in Detroit. When I was 12 we moved to Brownsville, Texas. That’s in the southern tip of Texas, on the border. You can’t drive any further without going into Mexico.
Why the move?
My parents decided they wanted to get away from the cold winters and my dad wanted to start a business.
What did your folks do?
My mom was an assistant teacher working for an elementary school. My dad was a body shop man. He fixed cars – not a mechanic, but a body man. He’d always worked for others and wanted to try being an entrepreneur himself.
We had an aunt, uncle and a cousin there, and since most of their family was in central Mexico, we were two days closer than we had been in Detroit.
Your parents are both from Mexico?
My mom, she and her family moved to Detroit from Mexico when she was in her teens. They had some friends and relatives living there. My dad did the same, emigrated from a small town in Zacatecas in central Mexico. He had cousins and family in Detroit as well. He wanted to get into the auto business.
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