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JPMorgan Chase Opens First Birmingham Branch, With Help of HBCU Grad

JP Morgan Chase & Co. along with city officials and customers cut the ribbon on the bank's first full-service banking center in Birmingham. (Amarr Croskey, For The Birmingham Times)

By Nicole S. Daniel

The Birmingham Times

JPMorgan Chase & Co. hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday for its first full-service banking center in Birmingham.

Approximately 20 city officials, bank representatives, and customers toured the location at 425 20th St South in downtown.

Racquel Oden, Head of Consumer Bank Network Expansion for JP Morgan Chase & Co. (Amarr Croskey, For The Birmingham Times)

Among the officials in Birmingham for the opening was Racquel Oden, Head of Consumer Bank Network Expansion where she leads growth strategy for Chase throughout the country and played a major role in bringing Chase to Birmingham.

In her role as Head of Consumer Bank Network Expansion, Oden, who received an MBA from Hampton University in Virginia, leads the Consumer Bank’s growth strategy for all markets across the country. She also leads a team that’s responsible for developing and sustaining Community and Business Development initiatives to drive economic transformation in expansion markets.

Asked the importance of the Birmingham location, said, “I want the community to say this is a local community branch that’s a part of our community if we do that, we’ve done our job.”

While the bank is “excited to be here with our first branch, we are just as excited to partner with the local non-profits and local organizations that can help us get the message out and most importantly support the community,” Oden said in an interview with The Birmingham Times. “We didn’t just come to provide banking services we’ve come to be a part of the community so that we can up lift it as a whole with financial health.”

Oden who was recruited right out of Hampton University to work at an investment firm said she realized that she was meant to be in the banking industry.

She began her career in 1997 as an equity trader at Morgan Stanley and has also held roles at Merrill Lynch and UBS Group AG. As a managing director with Chase, she feels it is very important give back by teaching financial literacy. She recalled going to the CEO at Chase and explaining that she wanted to do something different in communities specifically those with majority Hispanics and Blacks.

“I [helped] build our first [community-style] branch in Harlem (New York) and the intent of that branch is truly to deliver financial literacy . . . [and] it’s also allowed to be used pop up shop for our small business owners,” said Oden.

Financial Literacy

Chase Bank opened its first community-style branch three years ago in Harlem that specifically interacts with the local community and has since played an important part in giving loans to small businesses and residents.

“What motivates me is when you live in your purpose it doesn’t feel like work,” Oden said. “My personal anchor of purpose in life is financial literacy. Any role that allows me to do that is exactly what this role allows me to do.”

Chase has 300 community-style branches across the country and that’s the perfect example of purpose according to Oden. Alongside opening those sites, Oden said there are about 150 community managers across the county to let people know what Chase does and talk about financial health and literacy.

“To have 300 branches across the country with the intent and purpose to focus on financial literacy and financial health . . . gives an amazing organization like Chase to live up to that purpose,” she said.

Asked how it feels to open a location in downtown Birmingham approximately a week before The World Games 2022, Oden said, “You would think we timed it perfectly . . . This is our first bank in Birmingham, and we plan to bring more.”

In addition to decades of experience in financial services, Oden sits on the National Board of Directors for the Thurgood Marshall College Fund where she chairs the Audit & Finance Committee as well as on the Board of the Apollo Theater.

She is also a member of the Financial Women’s Association, Jack and Jill of America and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority – among others.

Oden is a resident of the North Shore of Long Island, NY, where she lives with her husband and daughter. Both of her parents were immigrants to this country, and she was the first to attend college and experience life in the United States. She holds a B.A. in Political Science from James Madison University and an M.B.A. from Hampton University.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. is a leading financial services firm based in the U.S. with operations worldwide. The banking giant had $4 trillion in assets and $285.9 billion in stockholders’ equity as of March 31, 2022.

Updated on 6/29/2022 at 9:03 a.m. to make edits.