An Interview with Tristan Attenborough, Head of Saudi Arabia, Treasury & Securities Services, J.P. Morgan
What has prompted J.P. Morgan’s decision to expand its existing business activities in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia?
Despite the huge business opportunities that exist in Saudi Arabia, the country remains widely misunderstood. In fact, Saudi Arabia is a very attractive place to do business, but until recently, there have been few organisations with the local presence, expertise and market commitment to help companies take advantage of these opportunities. As the most substantial economy in the Middle East, with an established financial infrastructure, the Kingdom has proven highly resilient to the economic crisis. Furthermore, with its vast reserves of natural resources, financial wealth and the largest consumer base in the region, Saudi Arabia has considerable potential for both multinational companies seeking to expand their activities in new regions, and for domestic companies too. We recognised that Saudi Arabia would continue to grow in importance for our multinational clients, and that the local market needed the support of a global bank with the scale and expertise that J.P. Morgan possesses. Consequently, it was a logical and exciting progression of our business to expand our operations here.
J.P. Morgan has had a presence in Saudi Arabia for many years. In what ways are you expanding your business?
The strategic expansion plans we are undertaking now are simply an extension of the gradual evolution the bank has undergone in Saudi Arabia for many years. We have been working in the Kingdom for nearly 80 years, and in 2004, we were granted a full banking licence. There are two licences in Saudi Arabia, one for commercial banking, and one for investment and securities firms. J.P. Morgan is the first US bank to be granted both licences, enabling us to deliver a comprehensive range of services across a full spectrum of corporate and financial institutional customers. Over the following four years, we built up our presence and range of services steadily. In 2009, after the immediate financial crisis was over, we publicly announced our strategic decision to accelerate our global expansion plans. Introducing a full service branch presence in Saudi Arabia is a top priority.
What does J.P. Morgan’s expansion mean in practice to current and potential clients in Saudi Arabia?
Our expansion strategy is divided into two major phases. During the first phase, we have introduced Treasury, Money Market and FX services to clients in Saudi Arabia, combining our deep understanding of the Kingdom with our global product breadth and financial strength. We provide support in Arabic language, in the local time zone and we adhere to the local working week. Furthermore, in addition to the six GCC currencies, our services cover USD, EUR, and GBP. We therefore can now fully support a treasurer-to-treasurer dialogue and deal with day-to-day money movements. Simultaneously we have introduced the same capabilities in Bahrain allowing us to service clients in the wider region.Later in 2011, we will be offering full local banking services, including accounts, payments, receipts and electronic banking, therefore becoming a fully-fledged local, as well as international bank. Our focus continues to be on delivering a consistent and unrivalled client experience, a comprehensive product offering, and fostering long-term relationships with clients. Ultimately, our goal is to help clients realise their own business objectives inside the Kingdom and globally.