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History of Financial Services in KC

by Angela Kennedy | Jul 17, 2014

Kansas City has a long history in the financial industry. In 1865, Kansas City’s first bank, the Kansas City Savings Association, was founded by Francis Reid Long. By 1890, the bank quickly expanded to become the largest bank west of Chicago and was renamed the National Bank of Commerce. Since then, Commerce Bank has led the way in banking innovations by introducing the 24-hour transit system and dual ATM/Credit Card.

It can also be said that Kansas City’s financial industry comes from a “little pamphlet.” In 1944, Henry Bloch, a student at Harvard business school, stumbled upon a speech given by a former business professor. The speech stated that “small business is the true backbone of this country, and the future is in helping small business.

Inspired, Henry Bloch and his brother Richard borrowed $5,000 from an aunt and began the United Business Company. The United Business Company soon employed 12 men and offered a list of more than 100 financial services.

The Bloch brothers could only offer $5 taxes for so long, and established H&R Block, Inc. in 1955 with only one service – tax return preparation. This transition came at the perfect time, as in 1955 the IRS phased out its free income tax preparation services. Henry Bloch figured that clients would prefer to pay for a tax return preparation if the preparer assumed responsibility for penalties resulting from his error. H&R Block, Inc. went public in 1962 with the help of George K. Baum & Co.

Today, Kansas City has a thriving financial industry, and is home to one of 12 U.S. Federal Reserve banks serving 7 Midwest and Western states.

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