Diversity & Inclusion on the Trading Desk

With Bojan Petrovich, Head of U.S. Equity Trading, JP Morgan Asset Management 

How would you define Diversity & Inclusion in the context of the corporate workplace?

Bojan Petrovich, JP Morgan Asset Management

At JPM AM, when we think about Diversity and Inclusion it is a mindset of seeking out different perspectives and insights with the ultimate goal of achieving the best possible outcome. It is a self- awareness that recognizes the inherent value of each member and thoughtfully considers their perspective. It provides the broader group an opportunity to learn and gain a deeper understanding of complex issues. Importantly, it raises the bar for all employees to gain and inspire new and diverse viewpoints, allowing people to express a unique perspective, or acquire an opportunity in a role that was once considered impossible without the right privilege. 

Within equity trading at JPM AM we look to foster innovation and thought leadership. The goal is to empower individuals, and for the broader group to be open to new ideas and thoughts. We want people committed to adapting to industry and market changes. When we think about diversity and inclusion in trading, we want to make sure that we get to the very best idea for whatever we are trying to solve for. We bring the best people together and allow them to bring their full selves to the table, breaking down biases and nurturing an inclusive environment where all voices are heard without exception. 

What is the importance of D&I initiatives for an organization? Is it a “nice to have” or a “must have”?

A must have. In short, the success of our business depends on it. To grow and thrive in our global marketplace, our workforce must be diversified to deliver our best to our global customers, clients and the communities we serve. In addition, we know that together, we – as a diverse and inclusive organization – can use that advantage to spark innovation and discover more ways of sustaining competitive advantages. 

This culture starts with management. As our CEO Jamie Dimon said, “People are our most important asset. Maintaining a diverse and inclusive workplace where everyone can thrive is not only the smart thing to do — it’s the right thing to do.” 

Brian Lamb, JP Morgan Asset Management

To further support the dedication and commitment to D&I, Brian Lamb was appointed as Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion to drive the agenda across the firm. He said: “We believe in, and are committed to, a culture of respect and inclusion. A company that is, can better serve the world and have generational impact — and that is good for everyone.”

In equity trading, as a management team we committed to deliver on key objectives using the privilege of the majority to support the minority through mentoring, coaching and advocating to develop talent as well as empower our teams and support a healthy work-life balance. 

What progress still needs to be made, in terms of institutional trading adopting D&I as an ethos? What are the challenges?

JPM AM has had a structured mentoring program with minority-owned brokers, to identify and develop trading relationships with firms that display strong management and a clear business strategy. Today most firms rely on client-driven mandates and recommendations. In terms of progress, I think large buy-side firms can help drive more awareness and engagement. At JPM AM equity trading we have seen a 230% increase year over year in trading with diverse and minority-owned brokerage firms.

Whether it is leveraging technology, or partnering with firms in more creative ways, if buy-side firms help drive demand, it would naturally require more brokers to earn business and set a higher bar. Focusing on both the demand and supply side of the equation allows for a greater value proposition. 

What are the risks of not adopting, or being slow to adopt, D&I?

Well, our entire economy for one. One example of this NOT happening was in the 2008 financial crisis. Dr. William Spriggs has been quoted as saying, “had Federal Reserve economists been paying attention to the analysis and the commentary of Black and Brown economists, they would have noticed right away that something is coming. These sorts of early signs were all happening in Black and Brown communities, way before they were happening in the larger national population.” The bottom line is that if we fail to include everyone in terms of their economic perspective, the analysis and recommendations used by policymakers represent an incomplete picture. In the example above, we all suffered. This is why it is important for everyone to be included as part of the discourse.

What has JPM AM accomplished in the area of D&I, and what are current initiatives?

Diversity & Inclusion is at the heart of our firm-wide Business Principles. To support these efforts, Kristian West, Global Head of Equity Trading has been appointed, along with other senior leaders, as a Diversity Champion. Kristian and the Diversity Champions help drive our diversity agenda across AM and help to further build an inclusive workplace and workforce with opportunity for all to contribute to our shared success. 

Across JPM AM, we have Business Resource Groups (BRGs) which represent minority groups across the organization formed by networks of employees who volunteer to advance the firm’s diversity and inclusion strategies and our position in the global marketplace. Their priorities align to the firm’s and include business solutions, recruiting, awareness, professional development and community outreach — with approximately 35% of employees being a member of at least one BRG.

Additionally we have launched our Manager Commitment effort. The role of the manager is central to the employee experience and creating an inclusive work environment and culture, where everyone has the opportunity to perform at their very best. Managers hold a privileged position and we want to hold them accountable to develop and strengthen their skills, so they can be the very best for their teams and ultimately retain industry-leading talent with a focus on driving a culture of diversity and inclusion. 

How does an organization measure success in D&I? 

I think it depends on the function of the specific business units. In our consumer banking unit for example, there is a five year program to provide an additional 15,000 loans to small businesses in majority-Black and -Latino communities. To do this, the firm will deliver $2 billion in loans. 

In trading, we measure success in terms of how we drive recruitment and retention. We launched a learning curriculum to motivate and inspire the next generation of traders. Meeting dozens of candidates with an interest in capital markets gives us the unique ability to help them source internal and external opportunities whilst allowing us to develop talent from a deep and diverse pool. It is a privilege to help others grow and inspire young careers. 

What is the future of D&I, in trading more broadly? 

Research clearly shows that diverse organizations are more nimble, more innovative, have more satisfied employees and are more profitable. This is a part of their culture. Trading traditionally has been a male-dominated role largely due to strict market hours and less flexibility. However, the global pandemic and ability to effectively work from home has introduced flexibility and work-life balance that can be better supported in the future. 

We also think that more firms will embrace D&I as part of their year-end review and compensation process. As a part of our manager commitment we want to incent the behavior that we expect to see, and holding our people accountable is a necessary part of this process.

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