Dominic Ng: Philanthropist banker, inclusion practitioner

Dominic Ng
Dominic Ng, photographed at the Los Angeles Times in El Segundo on Nov. 8.
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The year 2023 was especially cruel to regional banks in California. Repeated interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve exposed the poor bets and hubris of regional highfliers like Silicon Valley Bank and First Republic. Those banks capsized, which sparked bank runs, which wiped shareholders out.

One regional bank, however, smoothly sailed on: East West Bank, helmed for more than 30 years by Dominic Ng, who champions the durable power of steady growth. “We’re prudent and cautious, but very entrepreneurial,” he said from his office at East West headquarters in Pasadena. “The way you win in banking is not through shortcuts. It’s a long game.”

‘His leadership has transformed the bank, transformed philanthropy and what business leadership looks like in L.A.’

— Elise Buik, United Way of Greater Los Angeles’ chief executive

The result has been accolades: No. 1 best-performing bank in its size category last year from S&P Global Market Intelligence and No. 1 performing bank in 2023 by trade publication Bank Director. The diversity of its board of directors — Latino, Asian, Black, female and LGBTQ+ all represented — has also won acclaim.


Steady profits enabled East West to become one of Los Angeles’ top civic benefactors. Ng has been especially active with the United Way of Greater Los Angeles for more than 25 years and is credited with championing a strategic change in direction to more effectively serve the city’s desperately poor, while persuading more of the city’s richest residents to pitch in.

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“His leadership has transformed the bank, transformed philanthropy and what business leadership looks like in L.A.,” said Elise Buik, the United Way chapter’s chief executive.

Born to Chinese parents in Hong Kong in 1959, the youngest of six children, Ng has been chief executive of East West Bank since 1992 and expanded on the bank’s original mission of financing Chinese immigrants who in the 1970s found it difficult to qualify for loans through the usual channels. It’s now the largest publicly traded independent bank based in Southern California, serving an economically and ethnically diverse clientele. On the world stage, Ng serves as co-chair of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Business Advisory Council.

Ng, 65, worries about the future of philanthropy in Los Angeles. He longs for the “good old days” when business chiefs didn’t think twice about pitching in to help the city’s less fortunate.

Dominic Ng

“Today, the pressure is on for [immediate] return to shareholders,” and people running companies have to respond to shareholders who seem to “care less every year” about civic responsibility.


More young, monied tech and finance hotshots would do well to take some cues from business leaders like Ng.