Bank jobs: JPMorgan is hiring even as it shuts down branches

Pedestrians walk past a JPMorgan Chase & Co. bank branch in Chicago.

Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Pedestrians walk past a JPMorgan Chase & Co. bank branch in Chicago.

JPMorgan Chase is still shutting down bank branches — which makes it a lot like most banks these days. Where it’s different is that it’s still adding tellers and other branch workers.

The bank, which topped Wall Street expectations Thursday on the top and bottom line, is adding tellers, tech staff and commercial bankers, JPMorgan CFO Marianne Lake said on the company’s earnings call. While the addition of technology workers at JPMorgan is nothing new, taking on more staff in other areas of the bank represents a reversal of a trend that’s been going on not just there, but across the industry.

Headcount rose by 1 percent in the quarter from a year earlier, to more than 240,000 staffers. Compensation expenses rose slightly as well, the bank said. CEO Jamie Dimon announced earlier this week that 18,000 of the bank’s lower-tier employees will get pay increases from $12 an hour to $16.50 an hour, depending on factors like geography and the markets where they work.

Even as it has been hiring, however, the total number of branches run by the bank declined by three percent in the quarter, compared with a year earlier. It fell by 1 percent quarter-to-quarter. JPMorgan now runs5,366 branches, according to the earnings report.

The hiring trend is relatively new, and good news for people who work in the industry, where headcount has been trimmed by most banks in recent quarters (including JPMorgan) as big banks cut back on staff to offset challenges to profitability. Many banks have scaled back on either the size of bank branches, or the number of branches, as they confront the rising trend of consumers banking less in person and more via smartphone.

The bank’s corporate and investment bank CEO, Daniel Pinto, hinted at the reversal of the hiring trend last month, when he said hiring is “coming to the end of a cycle of contraction.”

In an op-ed in the New York Times on Tuesday announcing the pay increases, Dimon said the move is “the right thing to do.”

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