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Do all bankers live behind their desks, staring at spreadsheets and not making any real impact on the world? We chat to the people involved in some of investment bank J.P. Morgan’s most exciting projects, from global development programs to local charity work. 

Helping the worlds poorest

Amelie Darrort travels the world to help clients of J.P. Morgan meet potential investors. Recently, she helped the World Bank raise $1.5 billion for developing countries to support their businesses and grow their economies.

“The World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) helps the world’s poorest countries and aims to reduce poverty by providing loans and grants. We gave our advice to the World Bank group on how to assess the market and decide on the right timing to make sure that investors were ready to buy. It was a real success: it issued $1.5 billion over five years, even though at the beginning that target was closer to $1 billion. It’s a lot of money which will hopefully help many countries.”

Working with charities

Kristina Lazarova is a recent graduate of the University of Glasgow, where she studied Computing Science and Psychology. After a successful internship with J.P. Morgan, she rejoined her team as a Technology Analyst and took part in one of the firm’s charity programs.

“As graduates, we had the opportunity to volunteer in the Force for Good project. This was a nine-month project in which we worked with a charity and developed technology solutions for them. In my team, we worked with a local charity in Glasgow, so it was easy for us to have an interactive process where we met with the clients quite often to show them what we’d done and then get feedback. We really helped the charity make their workflow more efficient.”

Injecting £750 million into education

In 2017, J.P. Morgan’s John Mayne helped Oxford University raise £750 million to be used in part towards improving their facilities.

“I was really proud to be involved in this fundraising for Oxford. They are currently ranked as the number one university in the world; we’ve given them some firepower to try and ensure that they stay at the top.

“Raising this significant amount of money gives Oxford a lot more freedom than it had before to invest around facilities and attract the best people. You don’t have to be an expert in debt to know that borrowing money for 100 years is pretty extraordinary, so it will hopefully also give students a slight spring in their step. The actual spending of the money is going to be done in a judicious way. A lot of it will go into bricks and mortar, part of a 10-year investment plan; it’ll be by department, facilities, and particular areas that require investment. This is going to have an impact over a very long period of time and will remind people for many years just what they’ve achieved as a consequence of raising £750 million.”

Helping small investors, not just the big guys

Sarah Heffron is Head of Electronic Client Solutions for Europe Middle East and Asia Equities at J.P. Morgan; she helps investors of all sizes when they want to buy shares in companies.

“Firms like J.P. Morgan are fundamental in offering market infrastructure and the fabric for commerce to occur globally. Recent changes in bringing technology and innovation to trading platforms have driven down the cost of participating in the markets and opened up access to a wider set of investors. Ultimately, we can be proud of what we’ve accomplished because we’re enabling both big and smaller investors to be more active participants in global markets.”

Not always behind a desk

Amelie thinks there are huge misconceptions about working in finance: “A lot of my role is about building relationships with our clients. I’ll often travel the world with them; we could go to Asia for a week, or to New York, while the rest of the team is in the office to help with the account. Just because you work in a bank, it doesn’t mean you need to be good with numbers! There are various opportunities within the industry and a range of skills are needed.”

Sarah adds, “People might think of us at desks, using calculators and spreadsheets. Where I work, on the trading floor, it’s set up to be collaborative and interactive! We frequently have huddles to talk about problems and solutions. Most days, I’ll have meetings in town with clients and coffee meetings with new joiners to welcome them before they start. I’m never at my desk all day.”


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