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From 1 ATM to multiple branches, Bank of America eyes expansion in Pittsburgh |

From 1 ATM to multiple branches, Bank of America eyes expansion in Pittsburgh

Tom Davidson
| Tuesday, January 22, 2019 3:30 a.m
Bank of America on Washington Road near the border of Upper Saint Clair and Bethel Park photographed on Monday, Jan. 14, 2019.

Bank of America has started its push into the Pittsburgh market.

A few years ago, the Charlotte, N.C.-based bank had only one ATM in Downtown.

There are now 17 ATMs, including one along Hulton Road in Oakmont. The bank, which serves about 66 million clients nationwide, opened its first brick-and-mortar financial center in September in Upper St. Clair and more are on the way, said Brian Ludwick, the bank’s vice president for the Pittsburgh region.

Others are set to open in the North Hills in McCandless and Ross and another is planned in the East End.

“We’re constantly looking for ways or experimenting with ways to meet our clients’ needs,” Ludwick said.

Bank of America and the wealth management services it provides through Merrill Lynch serve about 210,000 Pittsburgh-based clients, the bank says, and there are about 300 employees in the region, Ludwick said. Some want branches where they can sit down and talk face-to-face. Others want more ATMs for banking on-the-go.

The branches are visible evidence of Bank of America’s expansion in the Pittsburgh market, which is dominated by PNC Bank. PNC has 136 branches in the market, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. PNC, which is headquartered in Pittsburgh, controls more than 44 percent of the market, according to the FDIC.

PNC, in a statement to the Tribune-Review, said it is natural for banks to jump into the Pittsburgh market as the region continues to grow. The area’s growth creates more opportunity for banks but also more competition among banks, the statement read.

Bank of America’s expansion here was due in part to Terry Laughlin, its former vice chairman and head of global wealth and investment management. Laughlin died in October and had ties to the University of Pittsburgh, where he earned his MBA and served as a Pitt trustee for more than a decade.

“Terry was a builder and a problem solver, and one of the finest individuals I’ve had the privilege to know and work alongside,” Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan said after Laughlin died.

Moynihan said Laughlin helped the bank recover from the financial crisis and recently lead the bank’s expansion in Pittsburgh.

Bank of America isn’t the only national bank looking to expand in the region. JP Morgan Chase, the largest institution in the country, is also seeking regulatory approval to open branches here.

The moves are intriguing to Peter Gianiodis, professor of strategy and entrepreneurship at Duquesne University’s Palumbo-Donahue School of Business. Gianiodis is a former employee of Bank of America and still banks there.

Banks are comparable to grocery stores. They both tend to saturate the market they’re in. The popularity of Giant Eagle and PNC in the Pittsburgh area is comparable to Publix and Wells Fargo elsewhere, Gianiodis said.

Banks looking to expand in the Pittsburgh market such as Bank of America and Chase suggests a potential shift in that strategy, Gianiodis said. Historic markets for these banks have become saturated, and the banks are seeking new places to expand to find new customers, he said.

That said, Pittsburgh’s banking market is congested, Gianiodis said.

“The local players… they’re pretty well entrenched,” he said. “It will be interesting to see how far they (Bank of America and Chase) go.”

Tom Davidson is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tom at 724-487-7208, or via Twitter @TribDavidson.

Tom Davidson is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tom at 724-226-4715, or via Twitter .

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