Now the country’s fourth-largest metro, Dallas-Fort Worth surpassed Chicago and Los Angeles during the pandemic to become the No. 2 city for finance jobs. It’s home to more than 380,000 who work in the industry, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That compares with 323,000 in Chicago, the home of CME Group Inc., Cboe and other derivatives firms that form the backbone of that city’s finance industry. New York is still No. 1, with 809,000 people employed in that sector.

And finance firms occupy 28 million square feet of office space in the Dallas area, second behind New York, according to Cushman and Wakefield. Combined with the insurance industry, the sector accounts for 12% of all commercial real estate space in Dallas, CoStar data show.

Dallas benefits from being in the middle of the country, with two airports that offer a plethora of direct flights, according to Jennifer Chandler, the market president for Bank of America in Dallas. The company has about 14,000 employees in the Dallas metro, with more than half in engineering and operations, Chandler said.

“We obviously love the central location,” Chandler said. “It’s very easy to get to and the quality of living is strong.”

While banks like JPMorgan, Wells Fargo and Bank of America have long had a presence in Texas, the pandemic supercharged growth.

Atalaya Capital Management, a $10 billion alternative investment advisory firm, opened an office in Dallas in 2022, it’s only location outside its New York headquarters. Charles Schwab moved to the suburb of Westlake from San Francisco in 2021. Fisher Investments came from Camas, Washington. Canyon Partners, a $24 billion Los Angeles-based fund, opened an office in Dallas in 2021. And KKR & Co. opened a real estate credit office in Dallas last year.

“Covid gave everyone an appreciation for what you can do remotely,” said Ivan Zinn, the founder of Atalaya. “With the growth of asset management, hedge funds, in Dallas in particular, you’ve seen that talent pool diffuse.”

Dallas finance executives say the region is chock full of engineering and technology workers, which is part of the reason they’ve located so many back-office operations there.

Over the coming years, they expect more executive and investment banking positions to be located in Texas. Already, executives like Rick Wurster, a top deputy at Charles Schwab, and Fortress Investment co-CEOs Joshua Pack and Drew McKnight have moved to North Texas. Dallas-based Texas Capital Bank has been expanding its business lines over the past couple years by adding an investment banking division. It launched its first exchange-traded fund in July, focused on Texas.

JPMorgan now has 15 investment bankers based in Dallas, a number that’s more than doubled in just a few years.