- JPMorgan launches the second year of its Schools Challenge, a programme to help teach children from underprivileged backgrounds about business and entrepreneurialism. The bank hopes that some of the children on the programme will eventually end up working at JPMorgan. David Lomer, JPMorgan’s co-head of M&A in EMEA, tells Business Insider that the bank wants to recruit from as wide a pool of talent as possible.
LONDON – Think of a British banker and you’ll probably imagine a sharply suited white man with a posh voice who was educated at Oxford or Cambridge University. Maybe Bristol or Durham, at a push.
That may once have been the case, but banking and the wider financial sector are changing. Diversity of gender, race, and background is increasing, and the world’s biggest financial institutions are making concerted efforts to move away from the stereotypes that have defined banking for decades.
JPMorgan is one of those institutions, and on Friday it launched the second year of its Schools Challenge, a programme designed to help teach kids from underprivileged areas about business and entrepreneurialism, with the hope that some will end up working for the bank.
“What we wanted to do is launch an initiative with students from low-income backgrounds in areas around London, so we could begin a process of interacting with young, bright talent, of all levels and abilities at a younger age than we were previously tapping into,” David Lomer, JPMorgan’s co-head of M&A in EMEA, and a mentor on the programme, told Business Insider prior to the launch.
For Lomer, the challenge is about ensuring that kids from traditionally socioeconomically deprived backgrounds realise their full potential and don’t feel like where they come from dictates where they end up in life.
“We were cognisant of the fact that there’s a huge amount of talent that runs the risk of going astray at the 12-14 age group,” Lomer says.
To harness that talent in London, JPMorgan is engaging around 150 students from nine schools in the boroughs of Tower Hamlets, Lambeth, Barking and Dagenham, Hackney and Newham, and challenging them to design a campaign, along with a product that could make London a better place.
The challenge takes place over the course of several months, with senior staff like Lomer mentoring the kids along the way. The programme, in Lomer’s words aims to create “a fun, rewarding, engaging, healthy dialogue with kids at that age [12-14]” as it “can be an incredibly fulfilling time to get them engaged and enthused about academia.”
The challenge also aims to “inspire them to work slightly harder, and understand that there’s a snowball effect of success,” where the harder you work, the more opportunities you get.
JPMorgan hopes that some of the children who have taken part in the Schools Challenge will end up on the bank’s other youth initiative, the Aspiring Professionals Programme, which helps get older teenagers into finance, offering them mentoring as well as advice on things like CVs and job applications.
Two students who took part in the first year of the programme are now working full time with JPMorgan, while many others have done internships and vacation schemes.
That sort of recruitment, JPMorgan believes, will allow the bank to stand out from its competitors in the future as the financial services landscape gets more and more competitive thanks to the rise of challenger banks and other fintechs.
“We’re fervent believers at JPMorgan that over time, as we aspire to be leaders in what we do, if we only recruit from the same gene pool as everyone else, all other things being equal, we will trend toward the average,” Lomer said.
“It’s incumbent on us to recruit and deliver to our clients, an exceptional set of brains, characters, philosophies and thought processes that are truly distinguished, and aren’t just from the same subset of the top five or six universities across Europe, that our competitors are competing against.”
Diversity is becoming even more important, Lomer says, when you consider the fact that the bank’s client base is also becoming significantly more diverse.
“One thing we’re very cognisant of as we try and develop in society, is that our clients are increasingly fragmented and diverse,” Lomer said.
“The successful gene pool that we’re tapping into is coming from all walks of life. They’re global citizens as well, and have come from all sorts of socioeconomic circumstances. We need a talent pool that can talk to those clients.”