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JPMorgan wealth head sees China’s economic outlook improving

By Thomson Reuters Jun 21, 2024 | 12:02 AM

By Nupur Anand

NEW YORK (Reuters) – JPMorgan Chase is seeing signs of an improving economy in China that will bolster the bank’s business in the country after a sluggish period, its CEO of asset and wealth management Mary Erdoes said.

U.S. companies are assessing their prospects in China as its economy recovers unevenly and relations worsen between the two nations. For banks, sluggish capital markets have weighed on activity in China, and investors are watching the effect of government support measures on the economy.

“The business environment in China has been challenging in recent years, but sentiment began turning more bullish in March,” Erdoes said in an interview at the bank’s headquarters in New York.

China’s consumer spending is showing some signs of recovery, and while the country is still grappling with real estate problems, the government is looking at ways to fix those, both “positive signs”, she said.

Erdoes, one of four executives recently identified by the bank’s board as a potential successor to CEO Jamie Dimon when he eventually steps down, visited China last month to present at an annual Global China summit hosted by the bank in Shanghai.

Attendance increased from last year to more than 3,000 delegates from across 33 countries as clients sought to gauge whether to revive their investments in China, she said.

“Long-term investors know and understand that China is a very important market, and we are continuing to grow and expand our business there,” she said, without giving further details.

JPMorgan became the first foreign owner of a brokerage in China in 2021 and its asset management unit in China employs 400 people. It has been among those to cut jobs in the country this year, Reuters reported last month.

Dimon said last month in Shanghai that parts of its investment banking business in China had “fallen off a cliff” in recent years, the Financial Times reported.

Erdoes, whose business manages more than $5 trillion of assets, in September convened a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and U.S. billionaires in New York to discuss investment in Ukraine, a country she has visited four times.

The lender has offered advice to Zelenskiy on economic policies and growth, and Erdoes assembled more billionaires in Davos, Switzerland in January to discuss aid and investment opportunities in Ukraine after the war with Russia ends.

“We are working on development issues critical to their rebuilding efforts and exploring ways to connect clients to business there once a peaceful resolution is hopefully reached,” Erdoes said.

The World Bank estimates Ukraine may need almost $500 billion to rebuild its economy.

Erdoes has taken a personal interest in the country, traveling with her family, including her three daughters, to Poland to volunteer at an orphanage for Ukrainian children in 2022.

She and her family raised more than $92,000 for charities supporting Ukrainian families, according to a fundraising site that the bank confirmed was set up by her family.

SUCCESSION

Dimon, who has run the biggest U.S. lender for more than 18 years, said he plans to step down in less than five years.

Along with Erdoes, other contenders identified for the top job are Jennifer Piepszak and Troy Rohrbaugh, co-CEOs of its commercial and investment bank, and Marianne Lake, CEO of consumer and community banking.

If JPMorgan appoints a woman as CEO, she would be only the second female head of a major Wall Street bank after Citigroup’s Jane Fraser was appointed in 2021.

“Building a diverse workplace is not something that you do in a day,” Erdoes said. “We have been on this journey for multiple decades.”

(Reporting by Nupur Anand in New York; Editing by Lananh Nguyen and Jan Harvey)