JD Finance lures top banker for global push

Ambitious Chinese fintech firm follows up successful funding round by hiring Mizuho Securities' Asia MD and chief economist.

Shen Jianguang, Mizuho Securities Asia’s managing director and chief economist, is joining JD Finance as vice president and chief economist, JD Finance said in a statement on Thursday.

The heavyweight fintech player – the fintech affiliate of China’s second largest e-commerce company, JD.com – closed a Rmb13 billion ($1.95 billion) funding from multiple cash-rich domestic investors on July 12. The funding round values JD Finance at Rmb133 billion.

Shen joined Mizuho in 2010 having previously held roles at leading international institutions the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, as well as China's first joint-venture investment bank, China International Capital Corporation.

“As the first Chinese senior economist of the European Central Bank, Dr. Shen has rich experience working at global financial institutions,” the firm said in the statement. Shen brought knowledge of geographic, economy and culture across the Asia Pacific region, it added.

JD Finance said it expected him to deliver more perspective and in-depth research on the global and Chinese economy that would help with its strategic expansion.

Shen enjoys a high profile in China, writing for financial and business publications and being interviewed by print and broadcast media.

Prior to hiring financial and economic veteran Shen, the Chinese fintech rising star had attracted several high-profile professionals from the technology sector, including  Bo Liefeng, an artificial intelligence scientist from Amazon and Zheng Yu, former lead researcher at Microsoft.

JD Finance is setting out its stall to be one of the leading digital technology companies serving financial institutions. This focus on technology is reflected in its recruitment push.

With the new top talent, the firm believes it can speed up development in multiple cutting-edge areas including financial technology and urban computing — a term for using technology to crack city problems such as transportation and environmental worries.

“We will further increase input in research and talent,” a spokesman said in the statement.

“Better applying big data and AI to economic analysis and projection will foster fintech innovation and support upgrading the traditional financial industry,” Shen said.

Shen is the latest in a long line of key staff from the banking sector to see a brighter future elsewhere — with China's technology upstarts at the forefront of recruitment.

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