J.P. Morgan & Co. has opened a representative office in Philadelphia, where it plans to target wealthy individuals.

The New York banking company plans to make the City of Brotherly Love one of its key marketing centers in the Middle Atlantic states. Its application to operate there was approved Nov. 15 by the Pennsylvania State Banking Commission.

"We've identified specific geographical areas in the U.S. where J.P. Morgan has particular business opportunities," said Susan G. Restler, a Morgan managing director. "Philadelphia is one, and this action is a reflection of that strategy."

Indeed, at the end of 1995, about 70,819 households in the Philadelphia metropolitan area had more than $1 million of investable assets, according to Payment Systems Inc., a Tampa research firm.

Morgan's new office will serve as nerve center for a team of brokers, investment managers, and general advisers who already have clients in the area, Ms. Restler said. It will also serve as a platform for attracting new prospects, she added.

Also working in the new office is a local trust and estate lawyer, Catherine M. Keating, who recently left Morgan Lewis & Bockius, a highly regarded Philadelphia firm.

Competitors expect Morgan to be very aggressive and systematic in its pursuit of prospects in Philadelphia.

"When J.P. Morgan comes to the Delaware Valley, I would hope they would reach out with a direct solicitation strategy and not with name association alone," said Norman R. Lubin, managing director of FMS Consulting, Blue Bell, Pa.

Philadelphia's established private bankers are not taking Morgan's arrival lightly. The blue-chip bank has long enjoyed a sterling reputation among the nation's wealthy.

"We view them as formidable competition," said James L. Kermes, president and chief executive officer of Glenmede Trust Co., Philadelphia.

"There is enormous wealth in this mid-Atlantic area," Mr. Kermes added. "Morgan can find a niche of business here and can make it worth their while."

Philadelphia's demographics make for a "dynamic" marketplace, according to William D. "Denny" Baird Jr., who heads up private banking for CoreStates Financial Corp. He said it stands to reason Morgan would recognize opportunities in the city but added that CoreStates has an advantage over many competitors.

"As a hometown bank, we feel very well-positioned," he said.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.