A Decade In The Making: Q&A With Sjoerd Leenart

Sjoerd Leenart, global head of Corporate Banking at JPMorgan Chase, discusses current and future trends, as well as key issues facing the New York–based bank in 2023.

Global Finance: How does JPMorgan differentiate itself from other corporate banks?

Sjoerd Leenart: It just so happens that 2022 marked the tenth anniversary when we combined three divisions inside the company—the investment bank, treasury and securities services, and global corporate banking. The move created the industry’s strongest and most complete corporate and investment bank [CIB].

Our consistent strategy continues to differentiate us: We are global, complete and operate at scale. That means delivering best-in-class solutions—from treasury services and payments to M&A advice to data insights as a trusted custodian—to clients anywhere in the world.

GF: What were the key issues, concerns and opportunities JPMorgan faced when it came to corporate banking in 2022? How did the firm’s strategy help address them?

Leenart: The macro environment has had the most significant effect on activity in corporate banking this year. A confluence of events, including the war in Ukraine, supply chain disruptions, high inflation and interest rate hikes, has created uncertainty and broadly slowed the pace of M&A and capital raising. For example, 12 initial public offerings came to market globally during the summer of 2022, compared with more than 160 IPOs during the summer of 2021.

That said, if conditions stabilize and confidence improves, we have one of the largest deal pipelines I’ve seen in recent years. More immediately, clients are facing significant volatility in interest rates, foreign exchange and commodities and are very focused on managing increasing working capital requirements. Many are also shoring up liquidity in these times of uncertainty. So the corporate bankers have been extremely busy advising clients and executing the best solutions.

GF: What market trends have you noticed taking shape heading into 2023? Will those trends inspire a shift in strategy in the future?

Leenart: There’s a lot of discussion about a recession—whether we’ll have one and how deep it might be. While scenarios range greatly, we try to keep our strategy consistent in covering and serving corporate clients. Consistent investment in products, platforms and capabilities, even during downturns, will provide us with competitive advantages in the long term. That doesn’t mean that we won’t be disciplined. We will, of course, adjust plans and manage expenses properly.

However, corporate banking is about the continuity of relationships and trust earned over the years, even decades. Clients will remember how you served them and treated them in the tough times, even more so than the good ones. So regardless of economic conditions in 2023, our goal is to be a consistent partner that can help raise money, advise on an acquisitions or provide easier ways to manage your assets.