Corporations: Banker to the Rich

Few banks over the years have lived on cozier terms with their clients than Wall Street's 109-year-old United States Trust Co. It has always been the bank's custom to invite its customers to lunch, supply cakes with candles when clients' children have an 18th birthday, advise on everything from selecting schools and planning careers to buying horses. Offering such friendly service has proved to be highly profitable for U.S. Trust—particularly because its customers, past and present, include such names as Rockefeller, Astor, Vanderbilt, and Whitney.

Ever since it was founded in 1853 by a group of wealthy New Yorkers (among...

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