Bank of America Corp., the nation’s second-largest banking and financial products company, will open bank branches in Minneapolis and Wayzata later this year, its first entry to consumer banking in the state.
The company on Thursday announced it chose locations in the IDS Center, on Hennepin Avenue near Lake Calhoun and on Wayzata Boulevard in Wayzata for its first branches.
“We’re constantly looking at where we can expand,” Larry Kloth, president of Bank of America in Minnesota, said in an interview. “We have more than 300,000 Minnesotans who already use at least one of our services. We want to offer others and bringing a consumer retail outlet allows us to have those conversations with customers.”
Charlotte, N.C.-based Bank of America is expanding its retail bank operation to both Minnesota and Colorado this year, its first new states since it moved into the Chicago market in 2004. The company two weeks ago opened a branch in Denver. “We’re pretty quick after that,” Kloth said.
With its expansion, Bank of America will be in 34 states and have retail banks in 27 of the nation’s 30 largest metro areas.
In the near term, the company will concentrate on the Twin Cities and consider expansion elsewhere in the future, Kloth said.
While a big name, Bank of America will be a small operator in the state. Minnesota’s retail banking scene is led by one large national firm, Wells Fargo & Co., and two local banking firms, U.S. Bancorp and TCF Financial Corp. The state is served by hundreds of smaller banks.
Until now, the nation’s two largest banks, Citicorp and Bank of America, have not had a retail presence in the state.
Bank of America’s investment brokerage unit, Merrill Lynch, has eight offices in Minnesota. And its private bank, U.S. Trust, has an office in the IDS Center. And Bank of America Merrill Lynch, a finance company, offers aircraft finance, home loans and middle market banking.
In 2013, the company provided about $74 million in new credit to small businesses in Minnesota. It provided home loan modifications to about 16,000 Minnesotans that year.
In all, the company employs 640 people in Minnesota and will soon start hiring for the three bank branches.
Kloth noted the firm’s Minnesota employees are active in numerous local charities. It provided nearly $1 million in matching donations last year. Even so, he said the arrival of a retail bank operation will build awareness of Bank of America that hasn’t existed in the market.
“We are a familiar brand nationally, and we need to bring that here close to home,” Kloth said.
The firm is recruiting for a consumer bank executive to lead the operation. That person will report to Kloth and Bank of America’s regional chief of consumer banking.
Kloth, who has been in the Twin Cities for about 18 months, is a 33-year veteran of Merrill Lynch.