Voice of Experience: Stephanie Miller, Managing Director and Global Head of Alternative Investment Services, J.P. Morgan Worldwide Securities Services

Stephanie MillerBy Melissa J. Anderson (New York City)

According to Stephanie Miller, Managing Director and Global Head of Alternative Investment Services at J.P. Morgan Worldwide Security Services (WSS), remaining open to change is critical for building a dynamic career. “I find personally – and I hope I exhibit this – that change is really okay.”

She continued, “Even though I’ve been doing this for twenty years, you have to be open to listening to other people, to be open to change. Keep an open mind and try to keep fresh on how you are approaching challenges, so you can continue to take yourself to the next level.”

This spring, Miller joined J.P. Morgan, taking on responsibility of strategy and direction for WSS’s Private Equity & Real Estate Services and Hedge Fund Services businesses. Before joining J.P. Morgan, Miller spent ten years at Citco Fund Services, serving as managing director and running the firm’s North American operations. “I handled the middle office, fund accounting, and transformational and technology change,” she explained. “I’m hoping to achieve the same size and scale of our business list at J.P. Morgan and I’m looking forward to this challenge.”

Career Managing Change

Miller began her career at GE Capital after studying accounting and management information systems at Queens College in New York, “I’ve always been on the investment side,” she said. Then she moved to CDC North America, working in structured products.

“After that I went traveling for a bit,” she continued. “I worked for Joe Anastasio at Capco, where I was a principal consultant, implementing system technology and change all over the world.”

Next, Miller joined Credit Suisse First Boston working in markets transformation. “It was a time of change – we were going from T+5 to T+3 to T+1. And then I joined Citco, where my mandate was to create a middle office and roll that out in the US.”

She continued, “So far this is the achievement I’m most proud of – building the global middle office from six people to 600. It really started on a white board in my office and became a reality. We started with nothing and took it to $250 billion in assets.”

Now Miller is ready to take on her new role at J.P. Morgan, “managing the alternative investment services business and utilizing the financial strength of the company to provide end to end solutions for our clients,” she explained. “My career has been about business coupled with technology and change, and I’m very excited to continue that at J.P. Morgan.”

Miller named the rapid changes in the alternative investment industry as a key interest. “The intervention of the SEC into the hedge fund industry and the changes to custody regulations in the US and abroad are interesting. We’re seeing government intervention into what has until now been a very private sector, and that impacts how we’re preparing internally and preparing for our clients.”

She’s up to the challenge, she continued. “J.P. Morgan has such a breadth of business. Not only that, but it’s so exciting to be with a bunch of people who really know their space, who know their craft and the principles of firm, and who are taking that forward.”

Women in Alternative Investments

Miller said she hasn’t experienced any challenges in the industry that were specific to her gender, and noted that networking and seeking guidance from other women has helped her in her own career. “The finance industry is a challenging industry. You have to be on your game, willing to put in the elbow grease. Groups like 100 Women in Hedge Funds are very helpful. The support that’s there today is far better than ever before. Less experienced people have the opportunity to talk to more seasoned people. The challenge is really plugging into that and listening.”

She recalled, “When I graduated in the early ‘90s there weren’t even 100 women. I remember being the only woman on the floor.”

People who are new to the industry should remember to maintain relationships over the years, she advised. “I’ve been very, very lucky and truly successful over in the last ten years at building relationships, establishing them, and keeping them,” Miller said. “But earlier in my career, I could have done a better job of leveraging relationships and keeping in touch with people. I wish I could go back and find some of them!”

Setting very specific milestones or goals for advancement can be helpful for women who are starting out in the industry, she said. “My advice for young women is to be goal oriented. It helped me to say that at 30 I wanted to be vice president and wanted international experience. So I put myself in places where that was possible.”

She added, “You can’t just hope that your career is going to be okay. Look at it in chunks of five years. In five years looking back, what do you want to have accomplished? Be specific about what makes you happy.”

In Her Personal Time

Miller said she and her husband love to travel. “We’ve been almost all over the world, although we haven’t made it yet to Australia and hope to soon!”

She continued, “I really love doing business with people in other cultures and seeing that through their eyes.”