Chase eyeing branch expansion in ‘certain other states,' consumer chief says

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The nation’s largest bank by assets is looking to expand its branch footprint.

Speaking at an industry conference Tuesday, JPMorgan Chase consumer banking head Gordon Smith said that the company may soon widen its service area in “certain other states" where it has little to no branch presence. He did not say which states Chase is considering or how many branches it plans to add.

The New York company is securing the necessary regulatory approvals, according to Smith. JPMorgan Chase, which operates its retail unit under the Chase brand, has about 5,300 branches in 25 states and the District of Columbia.

Chase has extensive operations in New York, Texas, the West Coast and certain Midwestern states, including Ohio and Illinois, but its footprint excludes large swaths of the Mid-Atlantic and upper Midwest.

“The branch is still a very powerful vehicle for us in driving retail banking,” said Smith, the CEO of consumer and community banking.

The company has long touted the importance of brick-and-mortar branches, even as it has invested heavily in online and mobile banking. During his presentation, Smith noted that fewer than 10 of its branches are unprofitable.

The company has taken a tailored approach to expanding its network, adding locations in high-growth cities, such as San Francisco and Miami, while also pulling back in others, such as Chicago and Phoenix.

In 2016, JPMorgan Chase's branch count declined 3% from a year earlier, to 5,258, the company said at its annual investor day in February.

During the conference Tuesday, which was sponsored by Morgan Stanley, Smith also said his division is testing out new ways to market retail products to Chase Sapphire Reserve credit customers. Notably, the firm recently began offering mortgages to a group of Sapphire Reserve customers, and got a “significant uptake,” according to Smith.

“Cross-selling done well is perfectly good for customers,” he said.

The term cross-selling, of course, got a negative connotation after Wells Fargo agreed in September to pay $190 million to settle charges that about 5,300 branch employees created over 2 million fake accounts to collect bonus pay.

JPMorgan Chase released the high-fee, benefits-heavy Sapphire Reserve card last summer, with the goal of attracting business from well-heeled, high-spending consumers. Smith said that cross-marketing products to Sapphire Reserve customers will be a critical part of JPMorgan's business strategy in the years to come.

“I think of Sapphire Reserve as a platform on which we can build,” he said.

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Branch banking Consumer banking JPMorgan Chase