A bank by any other name

March 25, 2010

American Principle Bank in San Luis Obispo is planning to change its name to American Perspective Bank in order to avoid litigation by global giant Principal Financial Group.

Currently, American Principle Bank officials are waiting for shareholders, expected to meet in May, to approve the proposed name change.

Before opening in 2007, the bank’s founders went through the proper trademark procedures and assumed the name was approved. At the time they opened, American Principle Bank was a very well capitalized with $40 million in hand.

Nevertheless, Principal Financial Group, a global company headquartered in Iowa and the parent company of Principal Bank, contends the names are too similar.

Even though principal and principle have different meanings, they do sound the same. Principal refers to a high ranking individual, branch or idea. And Principle relates to an underlying law, a primary source or an underlying characteristic.

American Principle Bank has one branch in San Luis Obispo, on Broad Street, where customers are treated to concierge banking.

Concierge banking is an interesting concept where a banker immediately greets a client when they enter the bank. Instead of standing in line at a counter to speak with a teller, the client meets with a personal banker at a desk.

“We want people to step back and take a new perspective at banking,” said Thomas Beene, American Principle Bank president and chief executive officer. “We are still providing loans.”

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A money losing bank with one branch, three Executive VP’s, three Senior VP’s, FIVE VP’s, and two Assistant VP’s. Though they are a bit under-staffed with just the one President.