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Bank One officially joins Chase

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lafayettejc.com
By Max Showalter
November 8, 2005

Results of a $58 billion merger finalized in July 2004 were finally evident Monday in Greater Lafayette when six Bank One locations officially changed to Chase.

"We are still all the same people (with) all the hard work and integrity you've come to know over these years," said Chase Lafayette president Joe Seaman, during ceremonies to unveil the rebranding.

Rossville resident Christy Lewis was unaware of the change when she stopped Monday morning at the downtown Lafayette branch to cash her paycheck from TeleServices Direct -- a task she usually handles on Fridays.

"I walked in this morning and thought, 'Oh my, what are all these people doing here?' " Lewis said. "The employees are nice. They know all of us from TeleServices. On Fridays, there's a line all the way through the lobby to cash our checks."

The consolidation of Chicago-based Bank One Corp. with New York City-based JPMorgan Chase Co. creates one of the nation's largest financial services firm with assets of $1.2 trillion and operations in more than 50 countries.

Bank One customers will still be able to use their same checks and ATM cards until replacements are issued by Chase, which switched 185 Indiana branches Monday. Customers also have access to more mortgage and investment products, Seaman said.

"The transition to the Chase brand should be smooth and easy for our customers," said Dennis Bassett, Chase of Indiana's chief executive officer. "Last year's merger gave our customers access to more ATMs as well as improved products and services. Now, we're moving to the Chase name on our signs."

The six local Chase locations employ 120 people, and the merger also has resulted in a Chase banner placed over the Bank One sign atop the 10-story building at Second and Main streets.

Seaman was among a group of bank employees who were on the roof of the building Sunday, restoring the banner after storms earlier in the day blew it from its location.

"The staff has done great work to make this seamless and for us to be the best financial services institution in the world," said Monica Phillips, manger of the main office in downtown Lafayette. "As our ad says, it's not good-bye, it's hello to Chase."

David Zimmerman, president and chief executive at Lafayette Community Bank, acknowledges that the rebranding of Bank One brings a larger player to the local financial market.

"All in all, I think there has been a pretty good and highly competitive depository environment going on with the bigger banks and the community banks," Zimmerman said. "We have a lot of tools that the bigger institutions have, but there's always that possibility for us to maybe squeeze the larger banks with our services being local."

Recent mergers have brought Regions, Fifth Third Bank, Sand Ridge Bank and now Chase into the local scene. And Seaman said other mergers are possible -- but he sees a greater possibility for two other trends to emerge.

"We're going to see great success with our local community banks. There will probably be more entrants into the market rather than more mergers." he said. "This is a great community, a growing community."

What are people saying about mortgages today:

Rates on 30-year mortgages edged down last week to a seven-month low. Mortgage-giant Freddie Mac reported Thursday that 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages fell to 6.3 percent, down slightly from 6.31 percent two weeks ago. It put rates at the lowest level since they were at 6.24 percent the first week of March.

Bank of Hawaii, Central Pacific Bank, Territorial Savings Bank and Wells Fargo Home Mortgages all cut their 30-year mortgage rates to 5.75 percent this week.

Most people think of a mortgage as a means to an end. After all, you buy a house, not a home loan. But a mortgage is much more than the path to homeownership. It is a financial instrument that must be managed, just like any other financial investment.