JPMorgan Chase is building more bank branches

Chase's Sommers: Branch remains the center of customer relationship
Chase's Sommers: Branch remains the center of customer relationship

JPMorgan Chase is doubling down on its in-person customer service, at a time when most Wall Street firms have been cutting branches and headcount.

"We'll continue to build branches," JPMorgan Chase consumer bank CEO Barry Sommers said Thursday on CNBC. "Our customers like them."

Sommers didn't specify how many branches will be built, or over what time frame. And it doesn't necessarily mean that JPMorgan is going to open more branches than it closes, either. Many Wall Street banks have looked to shut down over-sized bank branches in favor of operating smaller retail outlets.

"It's not really about closing branches," he said.

Bank customers use ATMs at a Chase Bank branch in New York City.
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It sounds like JPMorgan Chase branch staffers have something to be optimistic about.

In fact, even after it slightly scaled back the total branches it operates in the second quarter 2016, JPMorgan Chase added workers — an anomaly in an industry that's been focused on cost cuts in recent years.

Still, JPMorgan Chase is looking to cut costs — during a bus tour this month, JPM executives said that the bank is looking to cut out $2 billion. Sommers said JPMorgan Chase branches are evolving — to offer more services, which may not mean more jobs for tellers. Still, the bank recently pledged significant pay raises for its low-ranking employees. It sounds as if the branch is going to be a part of the bank's plans for some time, despite digital successes including its participation in a mobile inter-bank payment processing network.

"While there have been tremendous innovations around mobile banking, … the branch remains the center of that relationship we have with our customers," he said.

Correction: This story was revised to correct the spelling of Sommers in one reference.