Rivals Are Restless Over JPM's California Dreamin'

by Mercator Advisory Group 0

Over the past month several articles have highlighted the difference in strategy between Bank of America, who announced they will be closing branches, and other national banks that are expanding their branch footprint and staffing. Most notable is the JPMorgan Chase announcement that they will be opening between 1,500 and 2,000 branches over the next few years. Much of this growth will be focused on increasing their footprint in California and the other new markets they entered when they acquired WAMU.

JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s push into California is a blessing or a curse, depending whom you ask, but it is definitely having a competitive impact.

Some community bankers say the New York financial giant’s post-Washington Mutual expansion is fueling price wars, mostly in small to midsize business lending involving real estate, that could make it hard for them to survive.

JPMorgan Chase, some analysts and even some rivals argue the opposite: that the country’s second-largest bank by assets will exert a stabilizing force on the region’s loan and deposit rates. JPMorgan Chase competes hard but not recklessly, something that could not be said of WAMU, the failed Seattle thrift company it took over in 2008, they say.

One point of agreement: JPMorgan Chase’s California ambitions cannot be ignored. It lacked a retail presence in the state before buying WAMU. Now it is opening branches at a remarkable pace and recruiting new private, business and relationship bankers to staff them. It hired 250 new business bankers in WAMU territory in 2010, and intends to hire just as many this year. It aims to have 900 offices in the state by yearend; WAMU had 700.

For more information read the article in American Banker (a subscription may be required): http://www.americanbanker.com/issues/176_108/rivals-restless-jpmorgan-chase-california-expansion-1038503-1.html?zkPrintable=1&nopagination=1

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