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JPMorgan Chase unveils flagship NYC branch amid nationwide brick-and-mortar expansion

Max Zahn

Bankers punch transactions into tablet computers, spiffed-up ATMs handle most everything else, and comfy chairs invite customers to simply hang out — these are the hallmarks of a new flagship JPMorgan Chase (JPM) bank branch, in Midtown Manhattan, unveiled by the company on Tuesday.

At the branch, a signature of Chase’s effort to expand and modernize its brick-and-mortar banking nationwide, tellers aren’t stationed behind a plate of glass. Instead, they casually rove about an open floor plan, as if attendants at an Apple (AAPL) store.

“This format is meant to be a flagship branch and a community center,” said Jamie Dimon, chief executive of JP Morgan Chase. “We’re thrilled to be on the expansion trail again.”

“That expansion trail is thousands and thousands of jobs,” he added, noting the some 3,000 employees that the company plans to hire at new branches.

Personal tablets and enhanced ATMs at the flagship branch allow bankers to leeway to interact with customers on their terms, said Jurida Dobruna, manager of the branch.

“Through the tablets, our bankers are able to engage with clients in every space in the branch, open bank accounts, open new investment accounts, or service existing accounts for our clients,” Dobruna said.

“Technology is evolving; our clients are evolving,” she added. “Their expectations of how they want to do banking with us is also evolving.”

‘New concepts, new ideas’

In all, Chase plans to open 90 new branches by year-end, hiring up to 700 new employees throughout the branches. That will mark about a quarter of the way through an expansion that will bring 400 branches to 20 new markets.

The new markets include cities that “are right at the heart of some of our competitors,” Dimon said.

Approximately 30% of the new branches will be in low- to moderate-income neighborhoods, the company said.

Many of the new locations will incorporate features first tested at the flagship branch in midtown Manhattan, including similar open-floor branches in Chicago and Los Angeles.

“The firm will be introducing new concepts, new ideas, and designs first at this location,” Dobruna said. “But the firm is planning to introduce these ideas across the country as well.”

Enhanced ATMs at the flagship branch can perform over 80% of transactions done at the teller, the company said. Television screens line the walls, letting customers catch up on financial news or the weather. In total, the branch has 14.4 million pixels worth of screens, an amount that exceeds the jumbotron at Yankee stadium, the company said. From the sidewalk, passersby will see a single LED screen that spans 2,000 square feet.

“It’s designed to webcast different events we'll be having at this location or even branches across the country,” Dobruna said.

Those events, called Chase Chats, bring together a small group of customers to learn about a specific topic, such as saving for college or planning for retirement. Upcoming events at the flagship branch feature astronaut Scott Kelly, Olympic gold medalist Lindsey Vonn, and former New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz.

The company has hosted nearly 4,000 in branches so far this year, with a goal of 10,000 by the end of the year, a press release said.

Planning for the new branch began a year ago, Dobruna said. She began working as a banker at Chase 10 years ago, soon after she immigrated to the United States from Albania. Four years later, she became a bank manager and then the primary supervisor for the opening of the flagship branch, which opened its doors to customers last Monday.

“When we opened the doors to public on Monday it's when this all planning became reality,” she said. “Seeing the people's reaction and our clients just coming in and being blown away by this new idea and concept we're introducing for our community, it just made me feel so happy and so excited to have been part of this journey.”

Max Zahn is a reporter for Yahoo Finance.

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