Dimon Says JPMorgan Inspired, Worried by China Fintech Progress

Jamie Dimon Photographer: Christophe Morin/Bloomberg

Jamie Dimon recently sent some of his executives to China to scope out the competition in the financial-technology race. They came back motivated — and a little scared.

“It’s hard not to be both impressed and a little worried about the progress China has made” with artificial intelligence and fintech, Dimon, chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase & Co., said in a letter to shareholders Thursday. “It made our management team even more motivated to move quickly.”

The consumer bank’s management team visited companies that use machine learning to open accounts almost instantly. Others employ smartphone images to pay out claims within hours, Co-President Gordon Smith, who runs the consumer bank, wrote in his own letter, reflecting on a trip he took with his leadership team at the end of last year.

Dimon, 63, has long acknowledged the importance of investing in innovation, once calling technology “the greatest thing that has ever happened to mankind.” The New York-based company said in February it planned to boost its 2019 technology budget to $11.4 billion as it plows a portion of profit into technologies like machine learning to reinvent how the industry does business.

But he admits JPMorgan hasn’t always adapted as quickly as it should have.

“We were a little slow in adopting the cloud, for which I am partially responsible,” Dimon wrote in the 51-page letter. “My early thinking about the cloud was that it was just another term for outsourcing. But here’s the critical point: Cloud capabilities are far more extensive, and we are now full speed ahead.”

JPMorgan will be making changes to take full advantage of the speed afforded by cloud computing. The bank will then decide which programs to run on an external cloud versus an internal one.

Added computing power resulting from that shift will help the bank with efforts to deploy artificial intelligence across its businesses, Dimon said. The lender already trades around 1,300 stocks a day with the help of machine learning. JPMorgan also plans to deploy robots to staff internal help desks, track errors and route inquiries, according to the CEO.

Published Apr 4, 2019, 10:11:28 AM, by Michelle F. Davis (Bloomberg)