Most Powerful Women in Finance: Mary Callahan Erdoes, J.P. Morgan

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CEO, Asset and Wealth Management

Mary Callahan Erdoes is not downplaying the long-term impact that the pandemic will have on the lives of people around the globe. But she sees a lot to feel positive about in how the world has responded to the COVID-19 crisis.

"You should never bet against humanity," Erdoes said in an interview over the summer with the public relations firm Weber Shandwick.

Erdoes, who has headed the asset and wealth management unit at J.P. Morgan, the world's seventh largest asset manager, for 11 years, predicted that investors will pour money into health care systems that were poorly prepared for the crisis. And she contended that, even during this period of destabilization, businesses are keeping a focus on environmentally and socially sound practices.

"I hope we don't lose that momentum," she said.

Nonetheless, Erdoes argued that the pandemic will disrupt global supply chains as nations become more isolationist. "What are the relationships that we have with all of our different trading partners around the world? Those are going to be strained, hopefully not broken. And I think new alliances will be formed," she said.

In the second quarter, as the global economy chilled, the unit that Erdoes leads, which oversees $3 trillion in client assets, fared better than several other segments at the nation's largest banking company. Asset and wealth management reported net income of $658 million, which was down just 8% from the second quarter of 2019.

Erdoes is proud of the way her unit responded to the crisis. Even though 95% of the group transitioned to working from home, the equity team managed to oversee trading volumes that were three and a half times higher than normal. "It's one thing to be there for clients during uncertain times," Erdoes told American Banker, "but it's quite another to do it when our personal lives are equally unsettled."

Erdoes spent the early part of the pandemic in South Florida, where her family volunteered weekly at a local food bank. "It was an amazing experience and there was so much gratitude from everyone," she said. "It also helped us become a bit more patient with each other — and more aware of the collective impact of our time and energy as a family."

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