Private banking CEO of the year 2015: JPMorgan's Di Iorio

Known for his dedication and leadership style, Phil Di Iorio has taken JPMorgan Private Bank to the top of the rankings and is Euromoney’s top private banking CEO of the year.


Di Iorio’s winning formula

Phil Di Iorio joined JPMorgan in 1986 when it was moving from being a purely commercial bank into investment banking and was casting an eye on private banking. It was the only company Di Iorio applied to out of graduate school. "I’d read a lot about the history of JPMorgan and its legacy, and knew I wanted to work only there," he says. Fast forward 29 years and Di Iorio is now the CEO of the firm’s private bank, which has grown to have $1.1 trillion in client assets and a staff of 12,000. His peers have voted him as the best global CEO of a private bank.

Di Iorio joined JPMorgan as an analyst at part of the new private bank. It was a good fit for Di Iorio, who was very keen on portfolios and financial markets. He admits he was "the kind of child who wanted to be involved in his parents’ first mortgage." He brokered a car purchase for his family at the age of 10. "You want to know what the dollar/yen is at any moment? Phil knows it. To the fourth decimal point," says John Duffy, who heads up the private bank in the US. "He keeps up with the markets incessantly on behalf of clients." Di Iorio says he doesn’t sleep much but when he does wake up in the night, he will inevitably check the markets.

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In 1989 JPMorgan wanted to introduce a brokerage offering as part of its private banking build-out and was looking for internal volunteers to help. "I’d seen JPMorgan’s role as a custody bank and had seen the transactions passing through between the broker dealers and the clients, and saw no reason why we weren’t in that business," says Di Iorio. It was a fascinating time – in the wake of the 1987 crash, the Latin America crisis and the savings and loans crisis – in a world where clients wanted a much higher level of engagement. "The brokerage business transformed how we interacted with clients, and growth was phenomenal," he says.

Best global private banking CEOs 2015
1 JPMorgan's Phil Di Iorio
2 UBS's Juerg Zeltner
3 Julius Baer's Boris Collardi
4 Citi's Peter Charrington
5 Credit Suisse's Hans-Ulrich Meister
6 Santander's Luis Moreno
7 Goldman Sachs' Tucker York
8 Deutsche Bank's MicheleFaissola
9 UniCredit's Franz Witt-Doerring/Dario Prunotto
10 BNP Paribas' Vincent Lecomte and Sofia Merlo

While the brokerage business was doing well, by 1999 however, the traditional private bank was losing money and clients. That was when JPMorgan brought in Jes Staley, who had been running the firm’s equity capital markets group, to take over the private banking business. Di Iorio had been ready to move to Merrill Lynch but Staley convinced him to stay. Staley, now a managing partner at hedge fund BlueMountain Capital, says: "When we first met, Phil and I had a long and frank conversation about how JPMorgan Private Bank could be turned around to become the best wealth management firm and what that vision would entail. Phil bought into that vision, and he and Mary Callahan Erdoes [CEO of asset management] have executed on that for 15 years, creating arguably the most impressive private bank in the world."

Di Iorio says it was the beginning of a new era for him, the firm and the team that worked together. He lists both Staley and Erdoes as his two role models. "Jes for the courage to move from the investment bank to the private bank and take on the responsibility of building this business and establishing the culture of client first. And Mary for her vision of what this business could become and her ability to motivate thousands of people and give them confidence to believe in the potential of this business."

"I believed in the leadership and the vision," says Di Iorio. "Jes set the foundation of creating a private bank that would be like the investment bank for the wealthy. It would give them access to the firm’s balance sheet. Access to ideas would be global in nature and offer the best private and public investment opportunities. And it would be supported by the talent and resources of the broader firm."

Di Iorio was given the role of overseeing investment ideas and solutions for the private bank, and his guidance and focus on investment solutions have contributed to the private bank’s positioning today.

"We knew back then that the style of investment management was changing from a home bias to a global overview, and from the usual equities, bonds and cash portfolios to an absolute return focus that would include alternatives," says Di Iorio. "We could see that pairing investment advisory with investment management was going to be key. All of that has to be wrapped with advice. It wasn’t going to be just about products."