Locals like to point out ways that the television series Hawaii Five-0 differs from real life on the islands. But a reference in last night’s episode that sounds made-up really is true. In one scene, the Five-0 team finds a key to a safe deposit box at “First Hawaiian Bank.” Before visiting Hawaii, I would have thought that was the invention of a scriptwriter.
However there is, indeed, a First Hawaiian Bank, along with a Bank of Hawaii and a Hawaii National Bank. These distinctively local institutions also use symbols of Hawaii in their logos: a rainbow, a sailboat, and a royal feathered helmet, respectively. While it does not use the word “Hawaii” in its name, American Savings Bank uses as its symbol the kalo or taro plant, a powerful image in this state. Scenes in earlier Five-0 episode were set in or near the Pacific Rim Bank and the Central Pacific Bank, also Hawaii institutions. There is also an Ohana Pacific Bank chartered in Hawaii. (Ohana means family/community in Hawaiian.)
Perhaps because there are so many home-grown financial institutions, you won’t find banking names familiar on the mainland. When we first visited, I was surprised not to find a branch of my mainland “national” bank here. When we later moved, I called to cancel the account and was asked why. I said that there wasn’t a branch in the state I was moving to. The customer service representative responded, “You must be moving to Hawaii.” It was the only state where that bank had no branch.
Ironically, I was able to find a local financial connection through my credit union. Several Hawaii credit unions participate a network that includes mainland institutions. This allows me to transact business with the teller in Hawaii using my mainland account.
As with mainland banks, there are branches inside malls and supermarkets in Hawaii, and ATMs are plentiful. As a visitor, you should have no difficulty accessing your account through local institutions, but if you need to conduct more complicated transactions while here, it might be good to plan ahead.
Posted by: Bruce Fisher on Nov 2, 2010