JPMorgan’s Sommers to Leave, Depriving Brokers of Top Management Link
Barry Sommers, a former Bear Stearns & Co. retail broker who ascended to the top ranks of JPMorgan Chase & Co. after it rescued the firm during the financial crisis, is retiring “to pursue interests outside of the corporate sphere,” according to an internal memo.
Sommers, 49, has been chief executive of the banking giant’s wealth management “client-facing” business for the past two years, in charge of its traditional private bankers, its bank branch-based retail brokers and its group of some 500 traditional brokers at J.P. Morgan Securities. The businesses encompass more than 3,000 financial advisors, scores of whom worked with him at Bear, as well as some branch and complex managers he directly hired.
For three-and-a-half years prior to assuming his wealth management post, Sommers was CEO of Chase’s vast consumer banking division. He also helped create Chase Wealth Management, which has brokerage offices in more than 3,800 Chase bank branches.
“In all, Barry has held senior leadership positions in two of the firm’s four major businesses, bringing the same can-do attitude, positive energy and passion for doing the right thing thing to every role,” Asset & Wealth Management division CEO Mary Callahan Erdoes, who is 50, wrote in an e-mail reviewed by AdvisorHub that is being sent to her division employees Tuesday morning.
Sommers will remain at the bank for the next several months to “ensure a smooth transition,” according to the email. He was not available for comment, a bank spokesman said.
Erdoes is realigning management throughout the broad wealth management business, which services individuals ranging from “mass-affluent” retail bank customers to upper-high-net-worth families through competing parts of the bank structure.
Brian Carlin, who was co-CEO of wealth management with Sommers focusing on products rather than on the salesforce, will continue in that role and also assume day-to-day responsibilities as head of investment solutions, Erdoes wrote.
However, she has elevated David Frame—a 20-year J.P. Morgan veteran who has been head of client advice and strategy in the wealth unit—to sole CEO of U.S. Wealth Management reporting to her, according to the memo. He will oversee the U.S. Private Bank, the partnership with the bank-branch wealth business and J.P. Morgan Securities. (Chris Harvey, head of the J.P. Morgan Securities brokers, will continue in that role and report to Frame.)
In October 2018, U.S. Private Bank CEO Kelly Coffey left JPMorgan to become CEO of Los Angeles-based City National Bank, a Royal Bank of Canada affiliate.
Chase initially appointed Sommers and Carlin co-CEOs of Wealth and Investment Management in September 2016, but dropped that organizational nomenclature.
Erdoes also has shuffled the executives heading Chase’s international private bank.
Andrew Cohen, current head of the international business, will become the London-based “executive chairman” of wealth management “covering our largest and most complex clients around the world,” the e-mail said.
The new head of the international private bank is Nicolas Aguzin, an investment banker who currently runs J.P. Morgan’s Asia-Pacific investment banking businesses.
“Nicolas is uniquely qualified for his new role, bringing a wealth of international experience—having managed our banking franchise across APAC, and prior to that, acting as CEO of J.P. Morgan in Latin America,” Erdoes wrote. He will initially be based in Hong Kong and report to Erdoes, the e-mail said.
She also named Sol Gindi to be chief administrative officer for wealth management globally. He had served in that role for JPMorgan Chase’s consumer bank.
JPMorgan Chase executives remain intent on growing its wealth advisory businesses.
In its recent annual report, the bank reasserted Erdoes’ plan to hire around 1,000 more advisors over the next five years in the wealth and asset management division. The bank employed 2,865 wealth management advisors at the end of 2018, up a net 260 from twelve months earlier.
Profit at J.P. Morgan’s asset and wealth management division last quarter fell 8% to $604 million and net revenue was off 5% to $3.4 billion. Total wealth management revenue within the division, however, rose 3% to $1.72 billion in the quarter, which included the steep market declines of late November and December.