JPMorgan lowers account minimum, expands free trades for You Invest

NEW YORK, Nov 21 (Reuters) - JPMorgan Chase & Co said Thursday it is giving free online trades to more customers and lowering the amount of money needed to open one of its robo-adviser accounts, as firms across the industry bow to pressure to reduce fees and account minimums.

The move means that people with as little as $500 can open a You Invest Portfolios account, and Chase customers who have at least $15,000 in their checking accounts or meet other key metrics can trade for free online and on the mobile app.

Kelli Keough, global head of digital wealth management at JPMorgan, said the bank lowered the barriers because it wants more Chase banking clients to be Chase investment clients.

It also comes about two months after the largest U.S. online brokerage, Charles Schwab Corp, eliminated commissions and fees for most online trades.

Schwab is reportedly exploring a merger with rival TD Ameritrade in a bid to gain scale and more clients to support its new zero-commission business model.

You Invest Portfolios, which launched in July, previously required investors to have at least $2,500.

You Invest Trade, which launched in 2018, previously offered free unlimited trades only to sapphire banking customers, who keep at least $75,000 in their accounts, and Chase private client customers, who keep at least $250,000. Private bank and securities division clients were also eligible for free trades.

Premier plus checking clients received 100 free trades a year.

Starting on Monday, Chase customers with premier plus can place unlimited free online stock, ETF and options trades. Anyone else who opens a new You Invest Trade account will get unlimited free trades for one year.

“We’ve been seeing a nice uptake from our Chase client base - mostly younger and first-time investors,” Keough said by phone.

On average, she said, You Invest Trade investors are over 15 years younger than clients of other investing divisions at the bank.

The bank declined to provide data on assets under management or number of clients for You Invest.

Reporting by Elizabeth Dilts Marshall; Editing by Dan Grebler