JPMorgan's wealth boss Kristin Lemkau is eyeing plans to hire as many as 4,000 advisors as she lays out ambitious plans to catch up to the firm's rivals


JPMorgan is planning to significantly expand its financial advisor force, bringing the firm closer in size and scope to its rival firms in wealth management that it hasn't been able to match.

Over the next five to six years, the New York-based bank is considering hiring as many as 4,000 advisors to roughly double its current base, US Wealth Management Chief Executive Officer Kristin Lemkau said in an interview.

"It's a business where people can go get big checks anywhere. We're going to be competitive on that front, if not better, but we want to make sure that people are coming here because they actually believe in the growth and the mission," Lemkau said over a Zoom call this week. 

"We're growing, we're hiring, we're accelerating our hiring. Not all firms are, or at least have announced their commitment to it. So it's an appealing conversation when you're calling somebody and saying, 'Hey, you want to get in early, because we're going to invest, and take off with this thing,'" she said. 

Lemkau, who has been with the bank for just over two decades and was previously its chief marketing officer, was named head of JPMorgan's new wealth division last December. Its various wealth businesses, including its self-directed wealth product, were reorganized under one umbrella.

Within that division, the bank is now hiring advisors for JPMorgan Securities, its Chase branches, and into its national branch business where they are responsible for helping clients remotely through digital channels, including video.

Read more: 9 top recruiters who have moved wealth teams managing billions that financial advisers should know right now

A spokesperson did not specify how many advisors would be hired for each segment, though elite advisors within JPMorgan Securities advisors are likely more expensive than other groups. 

Lemkau said the firm would pay for top talent, though she and her spokesperson declined to elaborate on whether the firm was luring experienced advisors with large books of business away from rivals with signing bonuses or other compensation incentives.

Catching up to titans of wealth

These targets highlight the largest US bank's aggressive, long-term efforts to double down on the business of managing affluent clients' money.

JPMorgan
Amr Alfiky/Reuters

JPMorgan's private bank is already a well-known powerhouse on Wall Street for the ultra-rich.

But with disparate businesses, it has meaningfully trailed the four largest wealth managers: Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, UBS, Morgan Stanley, and Wells Fargo Advisors.

JPMorgan's US wealth management business reported $500 billion in assets under supervision in an August 31 statement. Morgan Stanley and UBS, the largest wealth managers, reported client assets of $2.85 trillion and $2.75 trillion through the third quarter, respectively.

JPMorgan also currently has some 4,000 advisors — between those in JPMorgan Securities and other branch-based advisors with a typically less wealthy clientele — while Morgan Stanley and UBS have about 15,500 and 9,700 full-service advisors, respectively. 

Read more: How Morgan Stanley's financial advisor hiring plans are shifting after months of poaching big teams from rivals

Lemkau is quick to point out that between assets and advisors at the various wealth segments under her division, the firm has trailed competitors. 

It has hired several large teams of advisors from competitors in recent months, including an advisor from Merrill Private Wealth Management who produced more than $4 million over the last year, according to a report from AdvisorHub.

JPMorgan Chief Executive Jamie Dimon has noted a similar opportunity for the firm to crack into the sticky, stable business of wealth management. 

"There is no reason we can't more than double our share over the next 10 years," Dimon said in his annual shareholder letter published in early 2018.