Nadia Schiavon

Nadia Schiavon, managing director, head of securities services, Australia and New Zealand at JP Morgan discusses her illustrious career and time heading up the largest custody business in the region.
Inducted: 2021

Global Custodian: Nadia, congratulations on receiving your GC Legend Award and being inducted into our Hall of Fame.

NS: Thank you so much. I’m really humbled and very appreciative to be part of this prestigious group. I thank you and I thank Global Custodian as well.

GC: Could tell us a bit about your background and how you got into the industry?

NS: I started off at University and I think the focus at the time was really to find a degree which ensured that I was able to get a job and a career post completing the course. So, I chose economics, which is a good degree, focusing on law, accounting and finance. After finishing my degree, I then went on to become a chartered accountant and once again, a great career which positioned me well for the future. I then joined Citi as part of their finance team and was there for six years. Post those six years, the CEO at the time approached me to head up their Treasury Services client service business, which was a tremendous opportunity and a way out of finance as well. I saw that as a great stepping-stone and a great career change.

While at Citi, I was in the Treasury Services team and then took on some senior roles within Citi. The most recent role, prior to my leaving, was Head of Operations and Technology for both the institutional bank and the retail bank. It was a large role, very people-focused, and I really enjoyed that part of the role as well.

Then in June 2011, I moved to J.P. Morgan to head up the Treasury Services business, and, in July 2015, I was approached to take up an opportunity to manage the Securities Services business. If I look back, joining J.P.  Morgan was a really good decision. It’s a terrific firm. The fact that its culture and values very much align with my personal values, about doing the right thing, working as a team, working in an environment which treated people with respect and dignity, is really important. And giving back to the community with strong senior leadership. All those values are really important, so I’m very pleased about my decision to move to J.P. Morgan and to run the Treasury Services business initially and then later on, the Securities Services business.

GC: In terms of standout moments, what are some of the things you’re most proud of achieving in your career and your time at J.P. Morgan?

NS: I have to say running the Securities Services business over the last six years. I’m very fortunate to work under the Global leadership of Teresa Heitsenrether. Teresa actually started a little bit before me. She’s been with J.P. Morgan for a long time, but she took over managing the business just a bit before I did, and she has been extremely supportive. She has had a strong vision, strategy and focus and that’s been evident.

Our assets under custody continue to grow, and I think it’s realised that Securities Services is no longer just purely asset servicing. It’s really about the importance of being a strategic partner with our clients, supporting their growth agenda, driving efficiencies, and ultimately equipping them with real time information to really make the right investment decisions. We’re no longer just a service provider and then there is also the culture. Again, the culture is not about just providing service, but understanding our clients, partnering with them, being agile and having that constant dialogue. So, we see ourselves as a strategic partner and someone to be part of their growth journey. Teresa is very supportive of that. We’ve seen this with the ongoing investment here in Australia, but also globally, which is tremendous.

For me personally, I think what’s really important is watching future leaders: having people within our teams – and we’ve got large teams here and also in the offshore centres – starting off as part of the team and then growing, developing and being able to then take on more senior roles where they’re managing larger teams, moving to different locations and moving across the bank. That is the value of working for a large firm such as J.P. Morgan, the ability to provide opportunities and mobility. I really get a buzz out of seeing people blossom and grow, coming out of their comfort zone and having the backing of senior managers to say, yes, you can do this and we’ll support you.

The other piece that is important to me is working with Women in Super, of which J.P. Morgan is an executive sponsor. Being part of some of their initiatives in mentoring future leaders, being part of the coaching, sharing experiences and helping women to be successful and to say, ‘Hey, it’s not easy sometimes’ and giving that encouragement, I think is important.

Outside J.P. Morgan, I work with the University of Sydney in helping people graduating from their final year, and particularly for those that are the first generation to go through university, as that can be a scary space. I’ve been there. So how do you provide them with some support, encouragement and guidance and share some of your experience? One of the things I say is: providing people with your time and sharing your experiences is probably the largest gift you can give. The last person I mentored from the University was really impressive, has tremendous potential we’ve actually established a great friendship which is really rewarding.

GC: You mentioned how the way you interact with clients and the role of the asset servicer has changed. Leading on from that, I’m interested in how, because we have seen J.P. Morgan at the very top of the assets under custody league table in Australia, making you the largest provider in the region. So, what’s been behind – if you wouldn’t mind sharing the secrets – getting to that top position and obviously maintaining that as well?

NS: I think staying the course is really important. Teresa has a vision and strategy, and she has stayed the course. I think that’s really important. I think she also, at the global level, works with the broader corporate investment bank to drive the Securities Services strategic agenda and the direction. She’s really focused on delivery and focused on our clients. She has been unrelenting in that regard. Clients are pretty much front and centre of a three part strategy, and so, again, staying the course has been important.

The first pillar is ongoing investment in technology and really, having data as the backbone to help clients as they make complex investment decisions. That’s been really critical and in Australia, we’ve seen a real shift to global platforms. The technology has been a significant uplift to our clients and also facilitated having a global operating model for some of our larger asset managers. So that has been really important.

The second pillar is about leveraging the power of the broader bank within the corporate investment bank, leveraging some of the tools and the technology, particularly in the markets business. So, as you would appreciate, they have things like data analytics, insights, and derivatives capabilities. We’re able to use their technology and their expertise, as we build those into our business as well.

Also, we’re able to use the thought leadership that exists within the corporate investment bank. Some of the issues that they’re working through and able to share those with our clients, and that’s been quite a differentiator.

The third pillar is about delivering efficiencies to our clients through what we call an integrated operating model, delivering client-facing technology and solutions and being part of their value chain end-to-end. Our extended enterprise workflow increases the end-to-end automation and really provides strategic solutions for our clients; also, looking at the whole middle-office solutions as well. Our clients continue to be challenged with identifying efficiencies and we’ve been able to do that through automation and technology as well as consistency across the platform.

We have a really enviable book of clients, which we value, we treasure, and we nurture, and we really want to be part of their journey. We connect with them on a regular basis, and it’s important to me that we are seen as a strategic partner, listening to our clients and then responding and providing the tools that they need to work efficiently and effectively.

GC: If you look back on your 10 years at J.P. Morgan, what are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen and where do you expect changes going forward?

NS: It’s unprecedented, the change that’s happened in the industry and in the finance sector. The three areas that I see as being drivers of change in the coming years are technology, digitisation and data. That will pave the way for further transformation. But also, J.P. Morgan has invested in FinTech and continues to do so and sees that as a differentiator to be ahead of the game there.

I think that’s an area of focus and that’s where we’re looking at how we make things quicker and easier from a technology perspective.

Asset class expansion will create new market spaces for asset owners, asset managers and also, for their custodians. As these asset classes become more complex, it will create different, greater markets and more of a challenging, complex environment going forward

Here at J.P. Morgan, Australia, we’ve found our superannuation clients come together and share some of the challenges and share some of the experiences. We then give back as to what we’re seeing and how we can help them, and I think that’s really important. it’s been a very effective way of looking at particular regulation, how we can help them facilitate that and provide some of the tools to assist in disclosure reporting and the like. Once again, pretty much a differentiator for us.

GC: Just to finish off Nadia, the question we’re asking all our new legend inductees this year is, what makes a good day at the office for you?

NS: I think what’s really important to me personally, is when we come together as a team and work as a team collaboratively, with a common goal. When we achieve that goal in a harmonious way, and when there’s commitment, enthusiasm and we have some fun as well, I think that’s particularly rewarding. We like to see our clients be successful and to be part of that success is really important to me and, more importantly, to the team.

GC: Excellent. Nadia, it’s been great to hear your story today. The answers you’ve given us really provide an insight into your role and what you do at J.P. Morgan. From everything you do inside the organisation to outside it, it shows you’re truly deserving of this GC legendary status and award. So congratulations again on the award.

NS: Thank you so much. It means a great deal to me. I think it’s going to mean a lot to the team as well because you don’t do this by yourself and I think that’s what’s really important. I always say to people as part of my career journey, it’s about how you work with people and the people that work with you, that drives success. No one does that alone.