JPMorgan to expand business banking presence

JPMorgan Chase is growing its business banking team in Charlotte – and now it’s looking to take its team across the Carolinas, underscoring banks’ increasing competition for business with midsize companies.

The largest bank in the nation has made Charlotte a priority as it expands its middle-market banking teams into markets where it lacks a retail presence. The bankers generally make loans to companies that bring in between $20 million and $500 million each year.

Last summer, JPMorgan Chase celebrated its launch into the market with an uptown meet-and-greet that drew Gov. Pat McCrory. At the time, the bank had just brought six new middle-market bankers into the Hearst Tower.

JPMorgan Chase is now looking to round out its team and expand. That growth will be shepherded by Craig May, who joined the bank as head of middle-market banking for the Carolinas last month.

May grew up in Charlotte and graduated from Charlotte Latin before going to the Citadel for his undergraduate degree and Wake Forest University for an MBA.

He started his banking career at Southern National Bank before moving to First Union, where he stayed more than two decades as it became Wachovia and later Wells Fargo. May’s most recent job there had been as a senior vice president overseeing two regional commercial banking offices.

He left Wells Fargo for JPMorgan Chase, he said, for the challenge of building a team and building a business across the Carolinas. He said Chase is building up its presence here in the right way, putting the right resources on the ground first, and then building a portfolio.

“We expect to be here for the long haul, and the model is very patient,” May said.

May said he’s actively looking to hire bankers in treasury services and risk management. Soon, he said he’ll hire division leaders to start offices in some of the Carolinas’ larger markets, such as Raleigh and Greenville-Spartanburg.

The region, he said, has an attractive business climate, solid infrastructure and skilled workforce that makes companies more likely to relocate.

“It is clearly a growing and dynamic market,” he said. “It’s one of the things that clearly attracted Chase here.”

At the same time, business owners are beginning to feel more optimistic about the economy in 2014. May said more than half of 3,500 executives surveyed said they expect revenue and net income to increase in the coming year.

The middle market has also been gaining more attention over the past year as banks look to lend in what’s been a slow environment.

GE Capital executives came to Charlotte in June to tout middle-market businesses in the area. Super-regional banks such as PNC have also been beefing up their middle-market lending teams.

May said the JPMorgan name and breadth of services it offers should give his team an advantage.

“I am not concerned about being competitive because we will be,” May said. “We can clearly differentiate ourselves from our competitors.”

A number of those competitors will be his former colleagues. Like May, the majority of JPMorgan Chase’s bankers in Charlotte have come from the city’s established big banks, Bank of America and Wells Fargo.

“I clearly miss and will miss my colleagues down the street,” May said. “It will be a friendly rivalry and a friendly competitive environment."