AFCM Interviews American Chartered Bank President Dan Miller
In the growing money-for-medicine market, AFCM occasionally hears from those whose interest in realizing health care capitalism was fueled by the desire to pursue medicine as a profession. Chicago-area American Chartered Bank President Dan Miller is a case in point.
He once sought to become a doctor, but the stockbroker’s son soon discovered that medicine—heavily regulated and difficult to master—was not the right career for him. Switching his college major from biology to finance, Miller sought instead to study the science of making money. He created what is still a remarkable achievement in today’s state-sponsored economy—an independent bank—in the middle of America. Cashing in on his knowledge and passion for medicine, this year, his became one of a growing number of businesses to offer a product—Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)—that may help to restore the medical profession to the freedom that attracted him to the field.
American Chartered Bank was founded in 1987 with $2,350,000 in capital. Originally oriented toward community banking, it quickly attracted small and lower-middle market commercial business. Today, with more than $1.9 billion in assets, American Chartered Bank’s approach emphasizes small and family business relationships with a focus on quality service, staff knowledge, and growth. Since its inception, when the bank was the smallest of 1,210 banks in Illinois, American Chartered has grown to number 15 of 646 banks in Illinois and 301 of 7,657 nationally. American Chartered Bank is now the tenth largest bank in Illinois in demand deposits and 129 among banks in the United States—a good measure of its commercial relationships.
Dan Miller began banking with American National Bank in 1981, the same year he earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and, in 1992, he received an M.B.A. from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management. Miller, who is not presently a member of Americans for Free Choice in Medicine (AFCM), spoke with AFCM from his office near Chicago. Those interested in American Chartered Bank’s HSAs can call the bank’s Health Savings Account specialist, Larry Deegan, at (847) 273-1649.
AFCM: Why are you a banker?
DM: When I started school, I wanted to be a doctor. I was a biology major, taking chemistry classes in college. I looked at the medical profession and at medicine [as science]—I used to watch shows like [NBC’s highly rated drama] Marcus Welby, M.D. [starring Robert Young]—and I learned that practicing medicine isn’t just being a general practitioner and being good friends with your patients. I had some unrealistic expectations. Medicine is hard, detailed work and it’s not nearly as lucrative as I thought—it’s very stratified. And we didn’t even have [the domination of] HMOs back then. My dad was a stockbroker and finance was interesting to me. I like numbers and I understand them. There’s nothing that complicated about what we do—it’s a question of how good we are at executing it. This is a business where we leave pretty big footprints. We’re a good value to people; we protect people’s savings and businesses and we help people buy homes. [At American Chartered, established in 1987, w]e’ve grown from six employees to 250.
AFCM: Which principle defines American Chartered Bank?
DM: Entrepreneurialism. We didn’t buy it, we didn’t inherit it—there wasn’t an American Chartered Bank—we started it. At its heart, the organization is entrepreneurial. We aim to be the best bank in terms of customer service and providing the best value. The world does not need another mediocre bank.
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