Though the number of bank branches is declining nationwide, the L.A. market added more locations last quarter than anywhere else in the country – by a long shot.
Twenty-one branches opened and 10 closed in the L.A. metropolitan area during the three months ended Sept. 30, according to data from industry research firm SNL Financial.
By adding a net 11 branches, Los Angeles more than doubled the next top gainer, Columbus, Ohio, which added five. The local market, which includes Los Angeles and Orange counties, also bucked a pervasive national trend of a declining number of physical bank locations. Nationally, there was a net loss of 111 branches during the quarter.
The L.A. market has long been dominated by major national banks, which drove the quarterly increase. In particular, New York’s JPMorgan Chase & Co. is making a big push in the area.
The company opened nine Chase bank branches in the county last quarter and closed none. The branches span from Long Beach to Claremont.
Just a few years ago, Chase was all but nonexistent in the county, but the company acquired a large local footprint with the 2009 purchase of failed savings and loan Washington Mutual.
Now, Chase is going all in.
Last year, the company announced plans to add between 525 and 700 branches in California by 2015. Los Angeles has been a particular focus for the bank: Chief Executive Jamie Dimon visited an L.A. branch under construction last year to highlight Chase’s growth in the area.
“With the acquisition of Washington Mutual, there are so many opportunities here in California on every level,” said Chase spokeswoman Eileen Leveckis.
Still, not every big institution is growing. Bank of America Corp. of Charlotte, N.C., which has the largest number of L.A. locations of all lending institutions, plans to shutter some 200 branches nationwide in the next year, according to recent media reports. It is unclear whether that will include L.A. offices.
The county has added about 240 net branches over the past decade, according to data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., but local branch growth fell off over the last few years. Jerry Nickelsburg, a professor of economics at the UCLA Anderson School of Management, said the recent resurgence could be tied to a pickup in the local housing market, which drives demand for loans.
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