Solanchy Rodriguez is the manager of JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s first consumer banking branch in Rhode Island, located at 234 Thayer St., near Brown University in the College Hill section of Providence.
Rodriguez grew up in Providence and attended the University of Rhode Island. She spent several years working in New York City before returning to Rhode Island in 2017.
The Thayer Street branch opened last month. Chase, the nation’s largest bank, plans this fall to open a second Providence branch, located on Westminster Street in the city’s financial district. Plans also call for several more branches in and around Greater Providence to open over the next two years.
Though Chase is establishing consumer banking here, the bank already has had a local presence for commercial, real estate and private banking.
PBN: If there are more demonstrations outside your new Thayer Street branch – protesting JPMorgan Chase’s financing of fossil fuel businesses – how will you handle it?
RODRIGUEZ: The issues surrounding climate change and the environment are complex, and we have sought to actively engage with a diverse set of stakeholders to understand their views. The Rain Forest Action Network has published a report annually for many years. However, the 2019 report expanded significantly to encompass financing for a much broader group of fossil fuel companies across a multiyear period than past years.
I think it’s important to note that 80% of the world’s energy supply is provided by fossil fuels. This includes the cars we drive, and the electricity needed to turn the lights on or use mobile phones.
JPMorgan Chase has a long history of advancing environmentally sustainable solutions for clients and its own operations. Many companies today are taking significant steps to invest in lower-carbon fuels, such as renewable and natural gas, and to promote efficiency. And we are leveraging our business expertise to help them achieve these goals. We firmly believe that balancing environmental and social issues with financial considerations is fundamental to sound risk management.
PBN: Being in a location with a large college-age population, is Chase doing anything to attract students as customers?
RODRIGUEZ: Our new branch at 234 Thayer St. is so close to Brown [University], just a few blocks from [Rhode Island School of Design], and down the street from the Moses Brown School. This is so exciting for us and for the financial support we can provide the students and their families.
When you walk into the bank, you’ll see a fresh new look. All of our new branches include modern design elements and feature open, collaborative spaces with movable furniture. This design is strategic for us to hold “Chase Chats,” a new series of small group sessions focused on financial health. And in Providence our goal is to give students the opportunity to learn how to be financially prepared while they are students and after graduation. Not only will our Chase Chats be held in the branch, but we plan to go on campus and hold educational classes.
Also, for the Thayer Street branch, when you come visit us, please ask an associate what offers we have to provide. New customers may be able to qualify for a $350 offer when opening a regular savings and checking account, a $300 business offer, or a $100 offer for student checking accounts.
PBN: How does this job compare to your last position?
RODRIGUEZ: I have been in banking since 2006 and have worked for different institutions. But Chase, by far, has been my favorite company to work for. Not only does Chase have a strong philanthropic mission for the communities it serves, but the firm does an excellent job at keeping the internal branch culture positive and offers professional development and growth opportunities.
I’m a University of Rhode Island graduate, with a degree in international business. And once I heard that Chase was expanding to Rhode Island, it was a “no-brainer” for me. I had to be part of it. After six years in Manhattan, I was ready to come back home and raise my child.
This position is very different from others I’ve held, as I’m part of helping to build something. I had the opportunity to hire and train my staff. I also worked closely with real estate and construction to make sure all the details going into the branch were being done to Chase standards. It has been a lot of work, but all worth it to see how amazing our team is doing and how we’re going to help the community.
PBN: When did the branch’s full plate of services and personnel get in place?
RODRIGUEZ: The branch opened Aug. 1 and has the full service of Chase capabilities. We’ve had great feedback from customers. Every day, we’re told they love the fact that they can come to a branch and handle all of their financial needs in one place. We have associate bankers, relationship bankers, Chase private client bankers, small-business specialists and financial advisers in the branch. Our Providence loan officer, commercial banker and private banker are in a different office, but only a phone call away.
For our small businesses, now entrepreneurs have access to dedicated bankers and products, including small-business loans, merchant services, cash management and credit card services. In addition, through our Small Business Forward initiative, the firm will provide women, minority- and veteran-owned small businesses with increased access to capital and technical assistance.
PBN: Which niches in commercial lending do you think your new location lends itself to?
RODRIGUEZ: When JPMorgan Chase comes to market, we bring the full force of the firm, and while Chase is new to Providence, JPMorgan is not. Now that we have consumer banking capability, this helps our current team of commercial banking, real estate and private banking do more.
Additionally, over the next five years, the bank will invest $3 billion for home and small-business lending in the New England region. Home loans will include low- and moderate-income communities. Eligible customers will also receive up to $3,000 in homeownership grants. We are here to support whatever the customers’ needs are.
Scott Blake is a PBN staff writer. Email him at Blake@PBN.com.
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