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For Raul Anaya, BofA’s top man in L.A., a gift of gab is a key asset

 How I Made It

Raul Anaya gets to know some clients through fishing. “You spend seven hours of quality time with the client. You get to know them very well when it’s just you and the client on a boat, talking about their business.”

(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

The gig: Raul Anaya, 48, is Bank of America’s market president for Greater Los Angeles, making him the bank’s top local executive and one of its most public faces in town. He’s held that post since 2012 and this year added a new role: head of global commercial banking for the bank’s Pacific Southwest region, which covers California, Arizona, Nevada and Utah.

Blue collar: Anaya was born in Detroit, the son of Mexican immigrants. His father, Raul Sr., never made it past elementary school and worked in an auto-body repair shop; his mother, Alma, had a high school diploma and worked as an elementary school assistant teacher. Anaya, the oldest of three children, was the first in his family to go to college. “My parents said, ‘You really need to focus on education. You really need to have a better type of position than what I’m doing.”

Small business: When Anaya was 12, the family moved to the south Texas border town of Brownsville — “You can’t get any closer to Mexico” — where his father started his own business, Anaya’s Body & Paint Shop. His dad let him work at the shop, mostly to persuade him to aspire to another line of work. “He wanted me to watch what he was doing and how physical and difficult his work was.”

K-Mart: Anaya married young and worked his way through the University of Texas at Brownsville while supporting a family. While studying business and finance, he worked as a supervisor at Kmart and as a checker at grocery chain HEB. But wanting to get into the world of business, he found a job as a teller at Texas Commerce Bank. “I didn’t want to be a store manager for Kmart. I was studying finance and business, and I felt I wasn’t getting any hands-on experience.”

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Banking bug: At the financial institution, Anaya met commercial bankers — the ones who would meet with business owners and offer loans. To Anaya, they were rock stars, and he wanted to be one of them. “Being a commercial banker in Brownsville was a big thing. They knew the who’s who, the wealthy, the business owners of that city and of the region.”

Climbing the ranks: He joined NationsBank, now Bank of America, in 1989. Ten years later, his mentor, Guy Bodine, gave him his first big promotion, putting Anaya in charge of the bank’s commercial lending group in San Antonio and south Texas. “I think he saw in me somebody who worked hard, that liked to connect with people and was always trying to build relationships.”

Connector: Anaya is a gregarious sort, something he knows has helped him along the way. “I’ve always enjoyed being around people. I’m a curious person, so I tend to ask a lot of questions.” He said that helps him understand what his clients need. It also keeps him interested. “I’m always learning something new. That’s what I love about what I do.”

On the fly: Though golf is the standard sport of bankers, Anaya doesn’t play — at least not well. He prefers fishing and takes some of his clients to Montana for a fishing trip. “You spend seven hours of quality time with the client. You get to know them very well when it’s just you and the client on a boat, talking about their business.”

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Personal: Anaya lives in Pasadena with his wife, Vanessa, a pharmaceutical sales representative. They have a 2-year-old son, Christian. Anaya also has three children from his first marriage: two grown daughters, Analisa and Stephanie, and a son, Ryan, a high school senior. Anaya is also a big sports fan, especially basketball. He roots for the Los Angeles Clippers — and advised Shelly Sterling on the $2-billion sale of the team last year.

james.koren@latimes.com

Twitter: @jrkoren


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