JPMorgan Taking Former WaMu Branches Back To Basics

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In this cost cutting environment, some analysts are criticizing JPMorgan (JPM) for spending money to transform Washington Mutual branches into Chase branches after acquiring most of WaMu from the FDIC for $1.9 billion last September.

The Wall Street Journal reports that JPMorgan will remodel about 900 WaMu branches between now and October. Branches will remain open during the two week renovation. WaMu began designing branches with the “Occasio” style layout in 2004. Occasio means “favorable opportunity” in Latin, but one look at the interactive graphic explains why JPMorgan wants to transform the branches back to a traditional layout. At the Occasio style branches, a customer is greeted by the Concierge who directs the customer to the tellers stationed in a circle in the center of the branch. To get cash, the teller hands the customer a slip with a numerical code to enter into the cash dispenser.

Critics of the branch remodeling are being penny wise and pound foolish. WaMu was a fallen brand, and the Chase branches should not be holding onto the energies of its tarnished aura. Remodeling allows JPMorgan to reconfigure the energies.

Banks are ruled by Venus and Pluto. As the ruler of money and all moveable assets, Venus and the sign Taurus rule banks. Venus is the energy of attraction and beauty, and banks used to pay more attention to surrounding branch exteriors with attractive flowers and shrubbery. As the opposite sign of Taurus, Scorpio and its planetary ruler Pluto represent lending.

WaMu’s design and style epitomized the Pluto in Sagittarius era (1995-2008). Sagittarius’ style is extremely casual, from the branch design to the tellers. And as we’re all too well aware, this way too laid back manner translated into sloppy lending practices.

Charles Scharf who runs JPMorgan’s Chase unit, told the Journal that “traditional branches are superior in every way. They might be boring, but they’re practical.” Whether JPMorgan realizes it or not, the return to traditional bank branches and more importantly, traditional banking, is what the era of Pluto in Capricorn (2008-2024) is all about.

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