Our Global Client Executive for Financial Institutions, Healthcare and Federal Government talks about his reasons for joining J.P. Morgan, his passion for the franchise, and insights he's gathered from talking to J.P. Morgan clients around the world.
Lewis, you have more than twenty-five years of commercial and investment banking experience at market-leading institutions. What made you decide to join J.P. Morgan?
I came here from Bank of America Merrill Lynch, where I was Managing Director and head of Global Commercial Banking Treasury Solutions. In that role, I worked often with J.P. Morgan executives and was always very impressed by their leadership and vision. J.P. Morgan clearly maintains a superior position among all other U.S.-headquartered international banking franchises through significant investment in its people, products, technology, and operations. And besides strength, depth and reach, there is an unwavering focus here on offering a world-class platform to help our clients be more efficient in all aspects of their business. The J.P. Morgan leadership team shares my passion for the clients of this franchise and is committed to helping them. It’s a great privilege to join J.P. Morgan which has such a great and proud tradition of serving financial institution clients.
As you meet with clients, what seems to be top of mind for them?
There’s a lot going on at the moment. As the pace of globalization quickens, growth continues to shift to emerging markets. Our clients feel pressure to meet the needs of customers who want to tap into these new, high-growth markets quickly and efficiently. At the same time, they are feeling another kind of pressure as new regulations kick in. They will soon have to implement requirements for Basel III, SEPA, Solvency II and Dodd-Frank. This is going to increase their costs, add complexity to their operations, and necessitate an even sharper focus on risk management. Let’s also not forget the volatility and uncertainty they are seeing in the global economy. Four years after the financial crisis, recovery in the United States still looks fragile. The euro zone situation is uncertain. Emerging markets are not decoupled from the volatility and uncertainty we’re seeing in the developed world, and there are signs of slower growth in China and Latin America.
How are you helping clients run their businesses in this challenging environment?
The Financial Institutions, Healthcare and Federal Government client franchise is an area where J.P. Morgan is a recognized industry leader. Our leadership is based on commitment to the client — we’re a trusted provider that knows where our clients’ pain points are and what they are expecting us to help them achieve in times like these. As the new client executive, I manage the relationship teams that provide client touch points into the J.P. Morgan organization. We are all focused on responding effectively to our clients’ evolving needs and we’re committed to providing a full range of solutions and services that can help our clients achieve success in their target markets. This means connecting our clients in every possible way to those parts of our global banking franchise that can help them deliver services in other regions and new markets.
Now more than ever, clients are relying on J.P. Morgan’s ability to provide them with liquidity management and cash deployment solutions. When they leverage our global platform to gain real-time visibility into their accounts, they become more operationally efficient and less exposed to risk. They know the time and resources we help them to save can be better used to build a business strategy that addresses their evolving challenges.
J.P. Morgan has long been the world’s biggest dollar clearer and we are leveraging that capability to provide EUR, GBP, RMB and FX cross-currency solutions as well. Even if there are slowdowns in China and Latin America, it’s clear that the big opportunities for our clients remain in emerging markets. Consumer markets in China and India have grown rapidly in the last few years, and trade flows have significantly increased between countries in South America, Africa, Asia and the Middle East. J.P. Morgan’s own investment in global expansion is aligned with these global economic trends. To give a few examples: over the past twelve months, we’ve heightened our presence in India, China, Saudi Arabia and South Africa, and now have a full banking platform in Japan. This expansion is helping our clients operate more effectively both locally and globally, and ensuring that we are wherever our clients need us to be. We will continue to invest in enhancing our platforms and capabilities to make sure that we have a resilient, consistent global offering.
Banks — J.P. Morgan being no exception — are being pushed to innovate. How do you think they should go about it?
Regulation, the focus on emerging markets, and the digital revolution are all contributing to a general feeling that we need to jump ahead of client expectations in order to meet them more effectively. A key question to answer is how banks should work with their clients and providers to innovate with real success. J.P. Morgan has a long track record of helping our clients transform their businesses and stay ahead of the curve. We lead innovative research and development efforts aimed at transforming the way we help customers access and move funds globally, and we welcome engagement with clients that helps us understand what their current and future goals are. That shared understanding enables us to innovate and enhance the client experience. The key to moving successfully through this challenging time is to collaborate and partner effectively. If we can do that, we are going to come out of this period with better products, services, and solutions, because we’ll have worked together to build them. Our leap ahead will be a group effort, and we look forward to participating.
Despite the challenges of the current banking environment, you still seem very positive about this business.
Despite all the “noise” and negativity we’re hearing about the industry in general, I remain very excited about the potential of J.P. Morgan’s Financial Institutions, Healthcare and Federal Government franchise. Mike Cavanagh, the co-CEO of our Corporate & Investment Bank, told a journalist on his recent trip to China, “Challenging times provide the best opportunities for a company to stand out among its competitors — your clients remember you the most for the things you did for them when times are tough.” I couldn’t agree more. This is a great industry because it helps all of us build for the future. The financial institutions franchise is at the core of so much economic growth globally. Our clients have a critical piece of the global economy: they help people save for retirement, finance their education, plan for their family’s future, and advance economically and socially. They also help emerging economies grow faster and established economies become more efficient. I feel very privileged to be working in the industry at this point in time, and to be part of the forward-thinking J.P. Morgan organization.