JPMorgan is on a shopping spree.
Jamie Dimon is on a shopping spree. In the first six months of 2021 alone, the chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase oversaw 33 acquisitions—just one short of the total acquisitions for each of 2019 and 2020, according to global data provider Refinitiv. What did he buy? A shot at keeping the US banking giant—which traces its roots to 1799—relevant for the foreseeable future and beyond.
It is no secret that traditional financial institutions have often been slow to deploy new technologies and embrace trends like environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives. Dimon’s head-spinning number of new deals is an attempt to make up for lost time. The bank announced nine acquisitions in June alone. Among them, the purchase of forestry and timberland investment firm Campbell Global; British robo-adviser Nutmeg; San Francisco–based startup OpenInvest, which offers sustainable investment products; and a 40% stake in the Brazilian digital bank C6.
Earlier this year, JPMorgan Asset Management took a minority position in China Merchants Bank’s wealth management business and the bank finalized its acquisition of Connecticut-based travel technology and credit card rewards business cxLoyalty.
The stakes could not be higher. Wall Street banks have greatly benefited from the recent surge in M&A activity. Although deal-making fees have been doing the heavy lifting, revenues from traditional banking services—lending and trading in particular—have slowed.
JPMorgan Chase is not the only one filling its shopping cart with new cool upstarts and more-established financial platforms. Morgan Stanley took over Parametric, which helps create custom portfolios for wealthy individuals, when it purchased investment manager Eaton Vance in 2020. BlackRock bought rival personalized indexing firm Aperio as well as Baringa Partners’ Climate Change Scenario, a risk model to anticipate how environmental events will impact clients’ investments. Moody’s boosted its ESG portfolio with a number of acquisitions too.
During a virtual conference in June, Dimon said that the competition is tough and that down the road there will be winners and losers. Asked whether JPMorgan will succeed, he responded, “We will do whatever it takes and so help us God.”