JPMorgan Chase provides first details of NC expansion, and opens its first branch

JPMorgan Chase detailed for the first time its plans to expand in North Carolina, including adding up to 21 branches in Charlotte — bringing more competition to a market dominated by Bank of America and Wells Fargo.

All told, JPMorgan, the largest bank in the U.S. by assets, said Wednesday it will open up to 40 branches in North Carolina in the next three years, creating around 250 jobs. It will also add around 80 ATMs.

Bank officials cut the ribbon on the first branch Wednesday in Chapel Hill at 133 West Franklin St, one of up to 18 the bank will open in the Triangle area.

The expansion adds to the more than 1 million consumers and local businesses that JPMorgan already serves in North Carolina through commercial, private and investment banking, the bank said.

The New York-based firm said it has over 200 employees in the state. It has been growing its commercial and private banking services, with offices in Charlotte and Raleigh, and a new commercial banking office in Greensboro.

“We’ve been serving the Carolinas for more than a decade and opening branches allows us to lend to more consumers and small businesses, and offer good paying jobs,” Thasunda Duckett, CEO of Chase Consumer Banking, said in a press release.

Jamie Dimon, chairman and CEO of JPMorgan, told a crowd at a luncheon in Charlotte Thursday that the branches not only allow the bank to expand its customer base, but also allow it to enhance existing services it offers in the state, like private banking.

jamie close up.jpg
Photo courtesy of Lucy A. Kennedy

More competition

The move will give customers in Charlotte one more bank to choose from, in a market where Wells Fargo and Bank of America loom large. The two banks hold around 89% of deposits in the area, according to the most recent data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

Bank of America is based in Charlotte, and Charlotte is the largest employment hub for San Francisco-based Wells Fargo.

Another big bank is entering the Charlotte market too: In April, U.S. Bank said it expects to open 10 branches in Charlotte by 2020.

The Minneapolis-based bank’s first branch will open in the fall at 201 S. Tryon St., in the former home of Dean & Deluca.

And the planned $66-billion merger of BB&T and SunTrust banks will bring the new bank’s headquarters to Charlotte as it is expected form the sixth-largest U.S. bank by assets and deposits. The banks have said they expect to receive regulatory approvals by the end of the year.

There are 40 financial institutions in the Charlotte region, according to the FDIC data, a decline of around 28% since 2008.

Entering a new market with this many branches is an unusual strategy for a bank, said Bert Ely, a banking consultant based in Alexandria, Va. He said banks typically enter new markets by acquiring other institutions.

I have to believe that they’re confident that they’re going to be able to take enough business from the banks that are already in the market, as well as getting a piece of the population growth,” he said.

The additional banks will likely be good for consumers, industry experts have said. Banks often offer special rates or other deals when they first enter a market.

JPMorgan is offering up to $350 for new customers who open a checking and savings account online. Once a branch opens, JPMorgan spokesman Michael Fusco said, residents may receive an offer via the mail to receive up to $600 if they open a new checking and savings account.

The bank’s expansion will also ramp up competition to attract branch employees, Ely said. JPMorgan said in March that entry-level workers at branches in Charlotte will be paid a minimum of $15 an hour. In April, Bank of America said it would raise its minimum wage to $20 an hour by 2021.

“Customer facing employees... become very important in terms of trying to build a bank presence,” he said.

Community Investment

Since last year, JPMorgan said it has invested over $1.2 million in nonprofits in North Carolina to support job training, small business growth, neighborhood revitalization and financial health.

The firm said it has worked with Central Piedmont Community College for the last few years to develop its global logistics and transportation programs. This year, JPMorgan said, it will help the college create a training program for electric vehicle technology.

In the Triangle, JPMorgan said it has invested over $1 million in three years in the Carolina Small Business Development Fund. The fund works to support small businesses in underserved areas.

But the planned branch locations leave out rural areas of the state, said Chris Cole, executive vice president and senior regulatory counsel for the Independent Community Bankers of America.

“Community banks are still there in the rural areas, and in many instances, in the inner cities,” he said. “And here are the big banks... pulling out of those areas and instead emphasizing in these wealthier, upscale areas.”

Chase has said around 30% of the branches it is opening as part of its national expansion will be in low-to-moderate income communities.


Due to incorrect information provided by JPMorgan Chase, a previous version of this story incorrectly stated the number of consumers and small businesses the bank serves in North Carolina currently. The total is over 1 million.
Related stories from Charlotte Observer

Danielle Chemtob covers economic growth and development for the Observer. She’s a 2018 graduate of the journalism school at UNC-Chapel Hill and a California transplant.