JPMorgan pushes wealth management goals with private bank's Midwest and South regions

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JPMorgan Chase is hitting the gas on its efforts to work with high net worth and ultrahigh net worth with an overhaul of its private bank’s operations in the central and southern U.S.

The New York-based banking giant announced plans Wednesday to set up Midwest and South divisions within its private bank’s Central Region. The organizational shift comes amid J.P. Morgan Private Bank’s push, started two years ago, to double its advisor headcount by adding 1,500 new planners by 2026.

“The Central Region has experienced much growth in the last decade, and this announcement further solidifies the opportunities we see today and in the future to serve clients with significant wealth and complex financial needs in the Midwest and South,” said Elaine Agather, the CEO of the private bank’s Central Region.

Chayce Horton, an industry analyst at the research firm Cerulli Associates who contributes to its annual U.S. Private Banks and Trust Companies, said the reorganization is not surprising for an institution that has seen its assets under management grow by hundreds of billions of dollars in the past few years.

“In recent years we have also seen asset growth far outpace talent growth across the board in the wealth management industry,” Horton said. “This dynamic has prompted advisors to strive to become more productive, but productivity gains can only go so far.”

He said Cerulli estimates that advisors at private banks now have about $500 million in assets under management on average, a figure that’s far higher than the standard for others in the wealth management industry. 

“Retaining talent has been difficult in this environment, and something that has had a negative impact on private banks broadly for years,” Horton said.

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Unlike its massive retail banking network, JP Morgan’s private bank works primarily with the affluent and very affluent. Similar institutions require a client to have at least $1 million in investable assets.

JPMorgan’s private bank provides services related to everything from financial planning and investing to banking, philanthropy and family office management under one roof. Its clients will typically have a relationship with a single advisor or small team that seeks to tend to all their financial needs. The private bank has roughly $2.1 trillion in assets under management. 

The new Midwest Region, encompassing Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin, now has more than 180 advisors in eight offices managing roughly $163 billion in client assets. The region head assigned to oversee all that will be Neal Gram and the region head of investments and advice will be Jeramey Lynch. The co-leads of the private bank’s Chicago market, which has 100 advisors in offices in downtown Chicago and Winnetka, Illinois, will be Maggie O’Brien and Charlie Cooper.

The South Region, taking in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas, has more than 200 advisors overseeing $140 billion in client assets in offices in nine cities. Its region head will be Pete Chilian and Clinton Warren will be region head of investments and advice.

“The Private Bank has ambitious growth plans across the country, and the Central Region is an important part of those plans,” said David Frame, the CEO of the private bank. “This extension of our leadership team will help us become an even more attractive home for clients and advisors.”

JPMorgan’s separate asset and wealth management division is separately in the midst of its own push to increase its own advisor headcount. The division has set a goal of increasing its current stable of about 5,000 planners to 6,000.

Jennifer Piepszak, the co-CEO of consumer and community banking, said at JPMorgan’s annual investor meeting in Washington D.C. on May 22 that that goal has received a significant boost from the bank’s $10.6 billion acquisition of First Republic Bank on May 1.