Roxann Cooke

Roxann Cooke
New England Consumer Banking Regional Director, JPMorgan Chase
Age: 47
Experience: 26 years  

Roxann Cooke is the New England regional director of JPMorgan Chase, which recently made a big splash in the state by pledging to open 50 retail branches in the Greater Boston area. The plan is part of a larger retail initiative that will see the banking giant open 400 new branches and hire as many as 3,000 employees in new markets all over the country in the next five years. Roxann Cooke is the New England regional director of JPMorgan Chase, which recently made a big splash in the state by pledging to open 50 retail branches in the Greater Boston area. Approximately 30 percent of branches will be in low- to moderate-income communities.  

Cooke, a Mattapan resident, first wanted to be a physician, but after a semester break from college spent working as a bank teller, her career trajectory changed. She has worked in various positions in retail banking at community, regional and national financial institutions. Before coming to Chase, Cooke worked at Eastern Bank and helped the bank open the first new bank branch in Roxbury in two decades.  

Q: Why is JPMorgan planning to open third of its 50 planned branches in Eastern Massachusetts in low- to moderate-income neighborhoods?  
A: Our decision to open branches in low- to moderate-income communities is both an economic business decision and a socially responsible decision. Chase is committed to ensuring that people in every community that we serve benefits from the expanding economic opportunity available through our banking capabilities, our philanthropic efforts and our community partnerships. I currently reside in a low- to moderateincome community in Boston and I am very proud of the firm’s commitment to open branches and invest in these communities that that have been traditionally underserved, overlooked and underbanked. 

Q: One of those planned branches will be in Dudley Square. What do you think the challenges will be for a large bank like JPMorgan Chase coming into a neighborhood like Roxbury? How do you plan to overcome them? 
A: I devoted several years of my career as a branch manager in Dudley Square. I was also involved in the early stages of the Dudley Square Revitalization planning conversations, and it is rewarding to witness the results of the revitalization efforts, which presents both an opportunity and a challenge for large banks.  

One challenge I see with larger financial institutions is the need to earn the trust of the community, but at Chase we have already started to do that. My staff has been on the ground volunteering their time and resources in building relationships with our future neighbors and this makes me very proud.  

Q: You have experience opening branches in Roxbury. What advice do you have for other banks interested in the market? 
A: I would advise against taking the traditional approach to banking with an, “if you build it they will come” business model. Establishing the brick-and-mortar presence is only one portion of the equation to opening successful branches in new markets. The formula for success is a combination of people, product and purpose. It is critical to hire the right people who are passionate about their work and who will become a partner and immerse themselves into the fabric of the community. It is also critical to demonstrate flexibility and identify innovative product solutions to address the diverse financial needs of these communities.   

Q: What do you think the competitive landscape will look like in the neighborhood in five or 10 years? How many branches could it have, and how many banks might decide to enter the market?  
A: I do not possess the foresight to speculate on the future, but I can confidently state that Chase is invested in New England and we are here for the long haul.  

I am both excited and motivated to learn about the increased interest from local community banks, regional banks and national banks desiring to establish or expand their presence in Roxbury. I started my branch management career in the Roxbury community more than 20 years ago and during that time, the community was unbanked and underserved. There weren’t many financial institutions interested in establishing a location in Roxbury based on either the perception of the community or the perceived lack of business opportunity. Roxbury residents and business owners utilized higher-priced alternative sources such as check cashing and lending services to address their financial needs.  

I took a personal interest in building relationships and providing financial solutions to my clients in Roxbury because I lived and worked in that community. It was a highlight of my career last year to be involved in opening the first bank branch to open in Roxbury in 20 years and I am thrilled to learn that other banks either opened a branch since that time or are planning to establish a physical or virtual presence in Roxbury.   

 Cooke’s Five Favorite Places iBoston 

  1. Franklin Park Zoo/William J. Devine Golf Course 
  2. Boston Public Garden/Boston Common 
  3. Museum of African American History/Freedom Trail 
  4. Jamaica Pond 
  5. Rose Kennedy Greenway 

Opening Doors in Roxbury

by Bram Berkowitz time to read: 3 min