JPMorgan Chase will open bank branches in Chapel Hill and Raleigh this year

JPMorgan Chase, one of the largest banks in the U.S., officially announced plans to enter the Triangle market on Wednesday, confirming that it will open branches in Chapel Hill and Raleigh.

Last year, the U.S. Department of Treasury granted the bank approval to bring Chase branches to Chapel Hill and Raleigh, though a spokesman for the bank wouldn’t confirm to The News & Observer what Chase’s plans were.

The two Triangle branches were announced as part of a larger nationwide expansion that includes states across the Southeast and Midwest.

The Chapel Hill location would be at the Carolina Square development on Franklin Street and the Raleigh location would be coming to the under-construction Midtown East shopping destination on Wake Forest Road.

Chase branches will also be opening in Charlotte, the bank said.

Last year, the bank said it would open up 400 new branches over the next five years and hire around 3,000 more branch-based employees. Currently, the company has 5,130 branches in 23 states. The company views its physical branches as a strong magnet for new customers and deposits.

“More than 70 percent of our deposit growth has been driven by households that use branches,” Michael Fusco, Southeast communications director for JPMorgan Chase, said in an interview. “When you are making those really big financial decisions, we find customers still want to come in for one-on-one in advice.”

Chase has already had a presence in the Triangle for the past few years, albeit without any retail branches. In 2016, the bank opened a commercial banking office in Cary, The News & Observer previously reported.

Fusco said that more than 272,000 people in North Carolina already use a Chase product, whether that be a credit card, a business loan or some other product.

The new branches will be full-service operations, Fusco said, meaning they will have personal bankers offering help with services such as savings accounts, loans and retirement plans as well as ATMs and tellers. Full-service Chase branches typically have around eight to 10 employees, Fusco said.

JPMorgan was part of a string of employers who announced last year that they would be raising their minimum wages. The company said it would be raising minimum wages for retail branch workers from a range of $12 per hour to $16.50 per hour to between $15 per hour and $18 per hour.

The bank said entry-level employees in the expansion markets will be paid no less than $15 to $16.50 per hour, and will also receive the company’s benefits package, which is valued annually at an average of $12,000 per employee in that pay range.

By entering the Triangle market, JPMorgan Chase will have to compete with many already entrenched competitors. The top five banks in the Raleigh metro area, by share of bank deposits in 2017, are Wells Fargo (with 26.6 percent of deposits), BB&T (15.3 percent), Bank of America (12.5 percent), First Citizens (11 percent) and PNC Bank (9.7 percent). Those numbers were reported by the the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

The Chapel Hill branch will be the first to open, with a target date sometime this summer. The Raleigh location will likely be later in the year.

“We plan to open more (branches) over the next several years,” Fusco said. “As part of our branch strategy, we want to be near major universities.”

Fusco said that by being near universities the company hopes to be able to attract college students, who are just at the beginning of their financial journey.

“Raleigh and the Triangle area offer a great opportunity for business expansion,” Fusco said. “It has a vibrant economy, strong universities and workforce and a strong optimism for growth.”

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Zachery Eanes is the Innovate Raleigh reporter for The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun. He covers technology, startups and main street businesses, biotechnology, and education issues related to those areas.