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Banking veteran to leave

Rochester Business Journal
January 31, 2014

JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s Robert Ryan, the Rochester-based market manager for Upstate New York and a career executive with the company, plans to resign next month after 32 years.

His last day in the Chase Tower is expected to be Feb. 14.

“There’s probably never a perfect time,” Ryan said of his decision. “I just came to the conclusion that now is as good a time as any.”

Malcolm Wolcott Jr., chairman of middle-market banking for the Northeast region, will assume Ryan’s duties until a successor is found. That process should take six months, Wolcott said.

“Bob retiring is like someone detaching my right arm from my body,” Wolcott said. “I’ve worked with him for 15 years, and I can’t imagine working with someone better. He has been a terrific partner. He is someone you’d want in the trenches with you if the enemy is coming over the hill.”

Ryan, a resident of Greece, plans to explore options before deciding what to do next.

“I’m still young enough and healthy enough to work,” he said. “It’s just a matter of finding that professional opportunity that seems to make sense for me and whoever I’ll be joining forces with.”

Ryan has been with JPMorgan Chase and its predecessors since 1981.

“I’m very proud of that, and I guess a little surprised, too,” he said. “While it is one name on the card, which is Chase, there have been a number of changes over the years that have felt like you have to adapt and evolve as a person because the organization has adapted.”

A native of Long Island, Ryan was hired by Chase Manhattan Bank in 1981 to provide commercial banking services to businesses in the New York City area.

He moved to the Rochester area in 1991 to help manage a $5 billion commercial and real estate loan portfolio for Chase Lincoln First Bank branches in Upstate New York and Chase banks in three other states. He later became the middle-market executive for upstate.

“That was an entirely different experience than anything I had ever experienced when I was either in Manhattan or Long Island, and that was to work at a truly regional bank,” Ryan said.

Ryan was named Rochester region executive for commercial banking in 1996 after Chase Manhattan Corp.’s acquisition of Chemical Banking Corp.

He was promoted to senior vice president and region executive in 1999 and assumed responsibility for emerging-market companies and non-profits with annual revenue of $3 million to $10 million.

Chase Manhattan merged with J.P. Morgan & Co. Inc. in 2000 to become J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., which acquired Bank One Corp. in 2004.

JPMorgan Chase is the largest employer among financial institutions in the Rochester market. JPMorgan Chase Bank N.A. ranks second in the market with local deposits of $2.1 billion.

“Although it is one bank for 32 years, there have been a number of interesting challenges and changes over the years that have felt very different than working at one place,” Ryan said.

Ryan was the Rochester division manager for 10 years before becoming market manager for upstate west of Albany and as far south as central Pennsylvania in 2012. Although his time away from home has increased because of that, it was not a factor in his decision to resign from JPMorgan Chase, Ryan said.

“I was traveling quite a bit, really over the last five or six years,” he said. “But that actually has been pleasurable. I’ve done some of my best thinking as I’ve been driving down the Thruway, either to Syracuse or to Buffalo.”

Ryan will continue his long-time civic work with organizations such as St. Ann’s Community and the YMCA of Greater Rochester Inc. while contemplating his next assignment.

“Having been in the financial services industry for as long as I have, I’ve developed a pretty good sense of how you evaluate good business opportunities, good management teams and the trustworthiness of clients,” he said.

“I love business. I love dealing business to business. I’ve really enjoyed working with senior executives, as well as owners of entrepreneurial firms, as they evaluate their strategies and how I, in my capacity as a banker, can help them achieve those strategies. If I can find a way to continue to do that, that would be great.”

His next stop will not be with a JP-Morgan Chase competitor, said Wolcott, who has worked at Chase banks for 35 years.

“When Bob came to me and said he was going to retire, the first thing he did mention was that he’s not going to another financial institution,” Wolcott said.

“Secondly, if you look at Bob’s history, I see a tremendous value in him working with some of these CEOs and their companies to help them grow. That’s just one thing. He may find out that another opportunity will come by to do something completely different.”

Wolcott thinks it will not take long for Ryan to find the right spot.

“Am I disappointed?” Wolcott said of Ryan’s resignation. “No, I got over that real quickly. I look at the other side of it. I’m happy for Bob, that he wants to do something different.

“We’re not going to miss a step here. That’s one of the keys to our success here. The bank is doing extremely well.”

1/31/14 (c) 2014 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email

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