J.P. Morgan's Rajiv Jain outlines South Asia strategy

J.P. Morgan has recently opened its first representative office in Bangladesh. Rajiv Jain, who heads the bank's treasury services business in India and South Asia, explains the bank’s strategy in that region.
Rajiv Jain, head of India and South Asia, J.P. Morgan treasury services
Rajiv Jain, head of India and South Asia, J.P. Morgan treasury services

J.P. Morgan recently opened a representative office in Bangladesh to provide banking services to its financial institution clients. What was the reasoning behind the development, and how does the bank see its business growing?

We're extremely excited to have opened a new flagship representative office in Bangladesh, a country which represents a crucial component of our on-going Asia Pacific growth strategy. We have been serving our financial institution (FI) clients in Bangladesh since 1973, when we first started working with Pubali Bank with a US dollar demand deposit account (DDA).

Since then, Bangladesh has continued to develop into a dynamic and exciting country, one which is committed to further integrating into the regional and global economies. Bangladesh's export receipts and import payments now total approximately $14 billion and $23 billion respectively, and the country's GDP is $225 billion and growing at 6% per annum. Thus, the decision to build our presence in this vibrant market is a logical next step. Through our new representative office, our FI clients will benefit from a team of professional, locally-based executives, who will be backed by our experienced regional and global teams and our full suite of cash management, trade finance and liquidity solutions. We’re looking forward to building deeper relationships with our clients within Bangladesh, and we’re excited to be a part of the nation's tremendous growth story.

What is the bank’s broader South Asia strategy, and how does the Bangladesh representative office fit into it?

Our decision to open a representative office in Bangladesh is a key part not only of our broader Asia Pacific growth strategy, but more specifically, our business plans in South Asia. We have long been committed to enhancing the services that we offer our clients in South Asia, and we have made significant progress in building our client networks in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and the Maldives in recent years. We have continued our long-standing focus on attracting and hiring the best senior executives, and we have invested further in building out our teams and platforms to ensure we remain well placed to grow with our customers.

In South Asia, we continue to break new ground by growing our relationships with existing clients and forming relationships with new clients. Bangladesh is the next step, and we will continue to expand as the economy continues to grow. We will also look to leverage the expertise we have garnered over the decades to ensure that we create a dynamic business proposition backed by our best-in-class services. We believe the potential in South Asia is significant. India, for example, is quickly emerging as one of the world's largest economies, and there remains vast potential in the further development of the region.

India is a hard market to crack given foreign banks’ limited branch networks, plus the size of the country and its regulatory environment. What are the bank’s ambitions for that country and how is it pursuing them?

We have a significant number of clients within India that we serve directly or through our J.P. Morgan network, and we will continue to explore opportunities to grow this presence as and when these opportunities arise. Importantly, we are also extremely well placed to benefit from a shift from a paper-based financial system to an electronic system. The Reserve Bank of India is pushing ahead with moves to modernize the financial system, which means that we can play an important role in supporting the development of the market with our cutting-edge electronic services and solutions. Our current clients see this as one of our key strengths, and so do our potential new clients.

How is J.P. Morgan winning business given the stiff competitive environment?

In South Asia, we have continued to focus on expanding our on-ground presence, enhancing the range of market leading products that we offer to our clients, elevating our client servicing capabilities and deepening the relationships with our existing FI clients. Our ability to merge the expertise of our local executives with our global platform to provide solutions is one of the key factors in why clients look to J.P. Morgan. We have a strong history in our key markets, and we're able to bring this depth of experience to the table and clearly demonstrate how it can help our clients' operations when we're pursuing prospective new business opportunities. As mentioned earlier, we are also using our proven expertise to provide innovative cross-border cash management and trade solutions to local companies that are expanding their operations overseas.

How does J.P. Morgan’s ambitions and approach in South Asia, and particularly India, compare with other its other emerging market interests, such as China?

We don’t see that we have overly different strategies in India and China. Instead, we absolutely view India and China as complimentary. China has become one of India’s largest trading partners, and cross-border trade flows between the two countries are rising quickly. By focusing on building our networks in each country, and ensuring that our platforms and client delivery remain at the front of the pack, we’re confident that we will be able to play an important role in our India and China clients’ growing businesses.

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