Alumni Profiles

Keith Banks is Investing in the Future

Keith Banks is Investing in the Future

Story originally appeared in Rutgers Magazine

Growing up in Nutley, New Jersey, alumnus Keith Banks had friends from all walks of life. He knew families that did well, families that struggled, and everything in between. “Good people working hard,” is how Banks describes them.

Still a New Jersey resident, Banks NCAS’77 is vice chair at Bank of America and head of the Investment Solutions Group, where he is responsible for the Chief Investment Office, Alternative Investments and Specialty Asset Management, Capital Markets divisions, and the products and platforms supporting Merrill, Bank of America Private Bank and Retirement & Personal Wealth Solutions—representing total client balances of more than $3 trillion. Prior to becoming the head of the Investment Solutions Group, he was president of U.S. Trust, Bank of America’s Private Bank.

The son of a father who joined the Marines to fight in the Korean War and a mother who “graduated high school and went to work,” Banks prides himself on his blue-collar, New Jersey roots. It’s a big part of who he is—and when it came time to consider college, Rutgers was a natural fit. He went on to earn a bachelor of arts degree in economics and business from Rutgers University–Newark.

“Rutgers taught me that you have to go after what you want,” says Banks. “Like most Rutgers students, I didn’t have a lot of contacts and didn’t have anyone pulling strings. You have to find your own opportunities, and I did. It gets you ready for life.”

As a first-year student, he recalls reading a section in the student handbook about awards and achievements—high honors, Phi Beta Kappa, Omicron Delta Epsilon (the international honor society for economics)—a number of which he circled and set as goals. He achieved them all, including the Wall Street Journal Award for the economics student most likely to succeed in business. “I realized that if I didn’t take advantage of that first key step that Rutgers offered, maybe I wouldn’t do some interesting things later in life.”

Banks maintains close ties with Rutgers. He made his first gift to Rutgers–Newark in 1987 to support the College of Arts and Sciences. Since then, his wife, Debra, and he have established scholarships for the university’s new Honors Living-Learning Community, the Department of Economics, and the School of Arts and Sciences–Newark as well as an endowed speaker series in economics. Bank serves on the Rutgers University Board of Governors, steadfast in helping advance the mission of Rutgers–Newark.

“For me, it’s a passion, a pleasure, and a privilege; I enjoy every moment I have when I’m with Rutgers.”

Keith Banks video