Morgan Overhauls Florida Unit

J.P. Morgan Florida is putting the finishing touches on its new savings bank and hopes to have the operation in full swing by fall, when clients return from their summer homes and vacations.

With this month's purchase of Investors Federal Savings Bank in Deerfield Beach, Morgan gained full banking powers in Florida. Now it can better satisfy customers who had been clamoring for local checks to prove residency in the state and to gain wider acceptance from local businesses.

Florida is one of a handful of states with no income tax, and having a banking relationship there can help clients with multiple homes prove they reside in the state.

U.S. Trust Follows Suit

On Monday, the U.S. Trust Company of Florida - a subsidiary of U.S. Trust Corp. - followed Morgan's lead by purchasing the deposits of Great Life Federal Savings Association of Sunrise, Fla.

Like Morgan, U.S. Trust had been looking for a means of expanding its private banking and trust business in the state. A savings bank charter gives both Morgan and U.S. Trust the flexibility to open offices throughout Florida.

Morgan is now looking for about five employees to staff its savings bank. Both the trust company and the savings bank will be run out of its Palm Beach headquarters.

Since Morgan has no retail banking aspirations, the thrift's remaining branch in Deerfield Beach will likely be closed when its $203 million in certificates of deposit mature.

The acquisition caps a year of aggressive growth for Morgan. J.P. Morgan Florida has $1.5 billion in assets under management, up from $1 billion at the end of 1990.

"Word of mouth is very, very powerful," said Richard Card, president of the Florida operation. Once they hear about the banking powers, he said, "clients will be coming to us with great enthusiasm and in great numbers."

At the same time Morgan was increasing its domestic business in the state, it closed Miami-based Morgan Guaranty International Bank, whose primary focus was to serve Latin American clients. Those customers are now served out of New York.

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.