11.30.2011

JPM Downplays Services

11.30.2011

One of the most talked about aspects of the Dodd-Frank Act has been the Volcker Rule, which seeks to limit the amount of Tier I capital banks can invest in hedge funds, private equity and proprietary trading vehicles.

Nearly all of the major banks have contingency plans in place for their existing investments in alternatives and proprietary trading desks. Most have chosen to spin them off into separate entities, sending management and employees along for the ride.

But in an interesting move late this month, it appears JP Morgan Chase is looking to get out of business of servicing hedge funds and private equity firms.

In a November 18 letter addressed to an undisclosed asset management firm, JP Morgan informs the firm that JP Morgan Chase will “no longer provide financial services for hedge fund or private equity customers. As a result, we will be closing the business account listed below in thirty days as authorized by the terms and conditions governing the accounts.”

What’s interesting about the letter is that it is not prime brokerage or other services in question: it involves a checking and a savings account related to the asset management firm.

“Amazing that the largest bank by assets in the US would turn down any accounts in this economy,” said one trader. “How risk adverse are other major banks going to be going forward and more importantly how much risk are the smaller banks willing to take on to compete in this environment.”

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