Most Powerful Women in Finance: No. 7, J.P. Morgan's Joyce Chang

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Chair, Global Research, J.P. Morgan

Joyce Chang’s goal is to provide consistently unique insights to investors.

Achieving that goal depends on using data to quickly assess the market impact of everything from trade wars to geopolitical anxiety. Emphasis on quickly.

But the work gets more difficult every year as the amount of available data explodes and the world becomes more interconnected.

“It’s become much more important to deliver globally integrated research,” said Chang, who was promoted to chair of global research in January. “You have to be able to talk about the change in market structure, not just macro and industry trends, but the decline in market liquidity and market depth, and the rise of algorithmic trading. Those are paradigm shifts.”

Consider the worldwide rise of populism, which influences sentiment and, by extension, the business decisions that impact economies. Markets, in turn, react.

Artificial intelligence is essential to J.P. Morgan’s efforts to develop timelier and shrewder reads on the impact of trends like the worldwide rise of populism.

Its populism index is built on searches of thousands of conference call transcripts and other company documents to identify what is potentially of most concern to executives. The firm also has a geopolitical anxiety index, a trade war index, and, most recently, an index that tracks the impact of President Trump’s tweets on U.S. interest rates.

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“We now track more than 25,000 company earnings reports, call transcripts and news stories,“ said Chang, who leads a team of more than 900 people. Those are mined for keywords “that indicate what CEOs are concerned about to measure business sentiment and confidence rather than relying solely on scheduled macro releases of data to come out.”

An example of the output: In the second quarter of 2018, the most frequently mentioned phrase was “tax reform.” The third and fourth quarters saw “tariffs” and “recession risk” top the list.

Chang’s strategy is apparently paying off. For the second year in a row, Institutional Investor named J.P. Morgan the top global research firm.

Chang has been the head of global research for five years and, with her new title of chair, she is tasked with expanding access to J.P. Morgan’s insight beyond the investment bank. One recent step was making the research — it generates about 140,000 reports and alerts annually — available on the firm’s new digital investment platform, You Invest. The platform has been attracting younger customers than those who typically work with J.P. Morgan’s financial advisers, and it is integrated with Chase’s mobile app and website, so customers can manage their banking, credit cards and investments in one place.

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