Exclusive-JPMorgan begins First Republic makeover as it opens more branches

By Nupur Anand

NEW YORK (Reuters) – JPMorgan Chase is preparing to overhaul branches it acquired from failed First Republic Bank as the lender expands its formidable national footprint.

“Branches have been a winning strategy for us that is helping us capture more market share,” Jennifer Roberts, CEO of Chase Consumer Banking, told Reuters in an interview.

Of the customers who hold deposits with the bank, 75% visit a branch annually, she said.

The largest U.S. lender has more than 4,800 branches across 48 states. By the end of this year, JPMorgan is likely to open 167 locations, exceeding an earlier projection of 150, Roberts said.

Rival Bank of America is also adding branches. The moves contrast with a national decline as consumers use more online services. U.S. banks closed 123 branches and opened 80 in October, bringing the total number of active bank branches at the end of the month to 77,690, according to S&P.

JPMorgan added 84 branches when it acquired First Republic in May, the largest bank to fail since 2008. In June, JPMorgan announced plans to shut 21 of those locations.

“Even though there could be some branch network consolidations, the total number of new branches would be higher and you will see our branch network growing,” Roberts said.

JPMorgan had the highest net branch openings in the U.S. in October, opening 22 branches and closing 14 others, according to S&P. In the last 12 months, the company has opened 157 branches and closed 163.


JPMorgan has retained 90% of First Republic customers, Marianne Lake, Co-CEO of JPMorgan’s consumer and community bank, told investors last week.

The lender will start the branch makeover by shutting two flagship sites in New York and San Francisco that will reopen in June.

“The strategy here is to take some of the white glove service that First Republic had, and their clients love, and marry that with the scale that JPMorgan has,” said Mark O’Donovan, the CEO of Chase Home Lending who is among the executives overseeing the First Republic integration process.

First Republic had a “very nice recipe” for serving affluent clients that JPMorgan aims to retain, Roberts said.

“There is an opportunity to do that more there by elevating training and we are figuring out how we can accomplish it,” she added.

The morning after the acquisition was announced, Roberts and O’Donovan were at First Republic’s headquarters in San Francisco to plan the integration and addressed employees to allay their concerns after the bank collapsed.

While there have been some departures, a majority of First Republic employees who moved to JPMorgan in July have stayed put, a spokesperson said.

“Even though we saw some attrition in the summer mainly from the sales team or bankers who were in client relationship roles, it has largely stabilized now,” O’Donovan said.

(Reporting by Nupur Anand in New York; Editing by Lananh Nguyen and Nick Zieminski)