Kehoe, Joan

Joan Kehoe, global head of alternative investment services at JP Morgan, has made a career on building businesses from the ground up.
Inducted: 2018

GC: What moments stand out as some of your personal highlights during your career?

JK: I have been working in the industry since 1984, mostly in Dublin, and I’ve been lucky enough to have many personal highlights. Having been one of the first employees of PFPC from 1993, my team helped it to grow its assets under administration to $120 billion. Then in 2006 we set up Quintillion and grew that to $20 billion, which was then sold off to US Bancorp as we felt we needed to be a depository to continue the business. From my whole experience, most of my time has been shaping new business, and that has been a real highlight of my career.

I’ve had fabulous opportunities to grow businesses from the ground up. The most important part is to have the right people around you. I am proud to have had many of these people work with me on more than one occasion. Every leader should be happy to nurture talent and see careers developing.

GC: How have these experiences shaped your industry outlook? 

JK: What I have come to find is that you can have the best technology in the world, but at the end of the day clients deal with people. So I make sure we have the right teams to be accountable to our clients and then give them tools to do their jobs. I see so many businesses get attached to a particular legacy technology, but you have got to open your horizon to these new innovations as they evolve.

GC: How difficult was it to set up your own fund administration business?

JK: Our timing could not have been worse. Nobody predicted what was going to happen in 2007/08, and the impact it would have throughout the industry. At the time there was a lot of interest from the prime brokerage and private equity community in the fund administration space. Setting up Quintillion was quite straightforward, but after you get the license that’s when you are competing with the big players. I might have underestimated how difficult it would be, but we got some early clients that were significant names that took a punt on us and it paid off. However, the hardest part was being an independent third-party provider and earning that creditability competing against the big players.

GC: What have been the biggest industry changes you have seen throughout your career?

JK: The biggest change has been in technology and innovation in the fund administration space. Our clients are all alternative investment managers with increasingly complex mandates and they are relaying more and more on data from their administrators. So we need to stay on top with technology.

GC: What are the kinds of things that make for a great day in your line of work? 

JK: A great day is when you have a client telling you are doing a good job, and when your team is pleased with the work they are doing. At J.P. Morgan, we are revamping the alternatives business and launching a new technology platform. It is such an exciting experience, and I often get asked being an entrepreneur, what attracted me to join J.P. Morgan. And honestly it is being able to use my experiences and apply them to such a significant brand.

GC: Are there any particular lessons that you can share for women working in securities services?

JK: I do a lot of female mentoring, both privately and professionally as I think it is really important for women to help other women. The advice I can give is you have to realise you won’t be doing everything correctly every day, but the reality is if you want to succeed you can make it work. So stick at it, and it truly is important we support each other. Sometimes sharing your experiences with other women and helping them understand they are not on their own will provide the most support.