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Voice of Experience: Kelly Mathieson, Managing Director, Global Custody and Clearance Business Executive, J.P. Morgan Worldwide Securities Services

KellyMathiesonBy Melissa J. Anderson (New York City)

Helping write the recent tri-party repo reforms has been a significant source of pride for Kelly Mathieson, Managing Director of Global Custody and Clearance Business Executive at J.P. Morgan Worldwide Securities Services, and is one way she’s making her mark on the industry.

“I think my proudest professional achievement has been the opportunity to be involved in and lead part of the reforms mandated by the Fed for the tri-party repo market movement,” she said.

“The market crisis occurred in ’08, and I picked up the clearing business about a month after that,” she continued, adding that Lehman was a notable client at the time. “It really gave us unbelievable insight into how that market model was not working effectively.”

She continued, “We made recommendations in May 2010 and have been working on the reforms’ implementation, and I’m quite proud of that. It will transform how that model works, and it will impact the generations to come.”

Mathieson, who was recently named of one of American Banker’s top 25 women to watch continued, “It was a Herculean amount of work and I’ve never been involved in something like that before.”

A Career in Banking

Mathieson currently leads global custody and clearing for J.P. Morgan Worldwide Securities Services, which has, she noted, $16 trillion in assets moving through its system.

After graduating from SUNY Binghamton with a degree in international business management and NYU Stern School of Business with an MBA, Mathieson spent three years as an analyst at Goldman Sachs’ money markets securities division before moving to Chase (which merged with JP Morgan in 2000).

Having been at the company for over 21 years now, Mathieson has held a variety of roles. She spent her first five years in investment banking, dealing with currency, commodities, and structured products. Next she moved into the bank’s then-new securities lending and investment products business for nearly five years. Following that, she spent six years in the asset management business, focusing on large retail clients like banks or broker dealers.

“And for the past six years, I’ve been in the worldwide securities division – initially leading the collateral management business and clearing, and then from a year and a half ago, running the global custody and clearing business,” she said.

Worldwide Financial System

Mathieson said, “We’ve got to get the right balance of regulatory reform. We learned through the crisis that aspects of the industry are not as regulated as they need to be. But [the new regulations] are not quite fully consistent right now.”

She continued, “Different countries are pursuing their own approach to OTC regulation and regulations for custodians. Without a common framework, we may have swung the pendulum too far.”

“The unintended consequences may harm business growth or create conflict.”

Mathieson said besides the ongoing work surrounding financial reform, she’s been closely following the current events in the European financial markets, and how they impact the notion of member-states, as well as the EU as a cohesive unit.

“The challenges to the stability of the Eurozone are stemming from one country’s challenges – what are the implications for unit as a whole? We’ve never seen this before. Naturally, I feel for those impacted by the events, but it’s also very engaging on a mental level.”

“As Americans we come from a set of member states – but the situation is different. It will be interesting to see how it all works out,” she added.

Challenges for Professional Women

“As I’ve worked in the market a little more, and gotten more senior, I’ve learned that the best decisions are made with a lot of different perspectives – even with the perspectives of people who disagree with you. They challenge your decisions and help you formulate your thoughts,” Mathieson said.

“I’m much more comfortable with that now, even with people I know will disagree with me. It’s not a comfortable space to be in during your formative management years, but I wish I had known earlier to be okay and comfortable with that.”

She said that she feels women have made significant advancements in the workplace. “I think that the benefits of everything that female leaders have done before us has been to get us in a position where the challenges that face both genders are probably the same. But I think women in particular still deal with work/life balance.”

“Five or ten years ago, you would have heard how women try to achieve balance. Lately you hear more about how balance is a myth. Women really still struggle with it, and the biggest challenge is that it’s kind of illusive.” She explained how it’s best to view work life balance on a continuum – viewing balance as something that occurs over a lifetime, rather than every day.

“You have to ask yourself, are you ever really in balance at any one point in time?” she said.

Advice for Women in Banking

Mathieson said her biggest piece of advice for young women in the industry is to begin networking early – and not just collecting names. “You will get to a point when it will be practically impossible to know everything you have to at any one point in time. You will only be as strong and capable as the totality of your network.”

She continued, “You have to have a network of people you can rely on in and outside of your institution – even friends and family. You can reach out to that network and gather information to make opportunities much more achievable. Invest in your network.”

Mathieson encouraged women who are advancing in their careers to also remember to mentor the next generation.

“Remember to coach the people who work in your organization – make sure you are continually investing down. Coach the people who will succeed you and lead the business you’ve built or transformed. Coach people away from leadership styles you don’t think will be effective.”

Women at J.P. Morgan

“I’m lucky enough to be on the lead council for the diversity agenda for our division of the firm – Treasury and Securities Services,” Mathieson said. “It’s pretty expansive and very active. We look at diversity from the mathematical front as well as making sure we are supporting various employee networking groups, which are a really vibrant and a direct way for that agenda to be promoted.”

She continued, “And we have really visionary leaders spending their own time to make sure that people who work here know the work matters.”

Mathieson mentioned that she is on the leadership of J.P. Morgan’s firm-wide Women’s Interactive Network (WIN), and is an active member of the group. “It’s a huge networking source and it really brings together all the levels of women from senior to entry level.”

“This has been a big deal for J.P. Morgan for quite some time – we know we have to do this, and we do it in different jurisdictions around the world. Plus, it’s just fun,” she said with a laugh.

In Her Personal Time

Mathieson is enthusiastic about helping women through microfinance. “I’m engaged in the whole concept of microfinance – that you can make small amounts of domestic loans to women in impoverished parts of the world, and really make a difference that just cycles back into the community. The result is better nutrition for children, better education – it’s a very recycled benefit and I feel very passionate about it.”

She continued, “The loan repayment rates are very high and any amount of time or money you can give is so rewarding. You’re truly enabling women around the world to help themselves.”

J.P. Morgan also participates in a number of microfinance initiatives and social investing initiatives, she added.