JPMorgan Chase & Co. is scaling back plans to build a team in Geneva that caters to the investment firms of wealthy families, partially reversing a strategy to serve the world’s super-rich.
The bank wound down its standalone multi-family office team in one of the world’s hot spots for wealth management after struggling to grow the unit, said people familiar with the matter.
The decision stems partly from Swiss regulatory changes that have caused the number of independent wealth managers to dwindle, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private.
Launched in early 2022, the Geneva team had more than half a dozen staff, said the people. The lender will integrate the business into its broader offerings in Switzerland, one of the people said.
“JPMorgan Private Bank is committed to serving the complex financial needs of clients,” the lender said in a statement. “We provide comprehensive wealth planning, investing and lending services and work with a range of clients, including multi-family offices across Switzerland and markets around the world.”
The decision to close the office signals a setback for the lender’s efforts to target the world’s richest in Europe, where the firm has sought to expand its offerings for superwealthy clients. Geneva is one of JPMorgan’s main private banking hubs in the region, alongside Luxembourg and London.
The number of family offices for combined fortunes has surged over the past two decades along with those serving single households. A 2019 UBS Group AG and Campden Wealth survey of 360 family offices globally said those serving multiple clients oversaw an average of $1.5 billion in assets.
On its private-banking website, JPMorgan currently lists eight professionals, four of whom are based in Switzerland, with Deutsche Bank AG veteran Matteo Gianini listed as country head of the division.
FINMA RULE CHANGE
The regulation of independent wealth managers in Switzerland has undergone a drastic change since 2020 when a three-year transition period started for them to obtain commercial licenses from Finma, the financial markets' oversight body, ending decades of self-oversight.
The regulator received 1,699 applications for licenses from portfolio managers and trustees through 2022 but had granted less than half of those at the time, with the longest case taking 550 days to process.
More than 1,000 investment firms planned not to apply for a license, with many choosing to adapt their business models due to the new regime, according to Finma data.