Most recently, Singh was head of Asia-Pacific for the IMF.
The role is new and Singh will focus on making sure that JP Morgan complies with the complex and rapidly changing regulatory environment, according to an internal memo at the bank seen by FinanceAsia.
Bank executives, in charge of divisions from trading to corporate finance, report spending an increasingly large proportion of their time on compliance. The new rules are mainly rolling out from the US and Europe, such as the Dodd-Frank, the Wall Street reform act, and capital rules known as Basel III. Each has prompted a thorough overhaul of how business is conducted.
JP Morgan already has a liaison officer in the US and Europe for regulators and is rolling out the same structure in Asia.
Several Wall Street banks are embroiled in a widening investigation by US regulators into hiring practices that may breach the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Investigators have unearthed spreadsheets naming some foreign hires with high-ranking relatives.
Singh will also be able to help JP Morgan coordinate its efforts to respond to the investigation into its hiring practices, according to a person familiar with the motives for his hire, although his main focus will be liaising with regulators in Asia. However JP Morgan started the process of hiring for this position about a year ago, before US regulators started investigating the bank's overseas hiring practices.
In Asia several governments pledged at the 2009 G20 Pittsburgh Summit to bring over-the-counter derivative transactions onto a central clearing and reporting platform by the end of 2012. Central clearing is gaining traction but mandatory clearing is still a way off in a region where each country is developing its own platform at a different pace – a headache for bankers.
Asian regulators are also cracking down on the fixing of currency and interest rate benchmarks by bankers, particularly of non-deliverable forward products.
“Our goal is to ensure we are engaged in an active and coordinated dialogue with lawmakers and regulators across Asia-Pacific; advocating for our clients and our businesses throughout the cycle of policy-making, legislative and regulatory implementation processes,” JP Morgan said in an internal memo.
Singh will start at JP Morgan in early February and the Indian national will be based in Hong Kong. He will report to Tim Ryan, JP Morgan’s global head of regulatory strategy and policy, and Andrew Butcher, chief administrative officer, Asia-Pacific.
Singh will join Butcher's management team and work closely with regional, country and line of business leaders as well as with government relations, legal and compliance departments.
Other banks have also been bulking up compliance departments in recent years. However, finding senior executives with the right contacts is tricky. According to a study by consultancy Accenture, 98% of organisations globally consider risk management more important than two years ago but 54% reported a shortage of candidates with the right skills.
During his career at the IMF, Singh helped design programs in emerging market countries in South and South-East Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America. During the Asian financial crisis, he led missions to Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia.
Singh holds postgraduate degrees from Cambridge University and the London School of Economics.