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Jonathan Morris

UAE, DUBAI - Finance

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CEO, Standard Chartered UAE

Bio

Jonathan Morris is the CEO of Standard Chartered Bank UAE, and previously held the position of CEO in Bahrain, with responsibility for Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, and Lebanon. Before joining Standard Chartered he worked for HSBC for 16 years, in various wholesale banking roles in Europe and the US.

"We have the most senior management team among international banks in the region."

What is the history of your operations in the region and the significance of Dubai in terms of your regional operations?

We are the bank with the longest history in the Middle East, starting in Bahrain over 90 years ago and expanding into Jordan, Qatar, the UAE, Oman, and Lebanon. We were the first bank to receive a commercial banking license from the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC). We have the most senior management team among international banks in the region, including a member of the bank’s main board of directors who works out of Dubai. We have the largest trading floor in the Middle East with 200 specialists focusing on commodities, currencies, and fixed income. Later in 2012 we are moving our UAE-focused staff into a brand new $140-million head office that will complement the regional DIFC office and our longstanding operations in Abu Dhabi. We have the largest retail banking network among international banks with 11 branches and more than 130 ATMs and cash deposit machines (CDMs).

What is the core focus of your banking services in Dubai?

We provide a wide range of conventional and Islamic wholesale and retail banking services. For our wholesale clients we provide world-class trade finance, clearing and settlement, and cash management services. We specialize in project finance, mergers and acquisitions, fixed income—including a leading debt capital markets division—currencies, and commodities. In retail banking our focus is on SMEs, private banking, and wealth management—with all products offered in both conventional and sharia-compliant forms depending on the customer’s need. We pride ourselves on our customer service and continue to focus on our customers’ specific needs and how they experience banking with us. Having the largest retail-banking network among international banks in the country means we are there for our customers wherever when they need banking services in the UAE and beyond.

“We have the most senior management team among international banks in the region.”

How do you leverage the bank’s international reach in terms of offerings to your local clients?

As an international bank with a focus on the world’s most dynamic markets, we are well positioned to take advantage of the emerging trade and investment corridors of Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Our strong on-the-ground presence in the markets we operate in allows us to have a deeper understanding of the business culture in each of our markets. We have around 2,500 people serving our clients in the UAE and beyond.

How has your growth strategy for this region adjusted over recent years?

Throughout the crisis, we remained open for business, and standing by our clients has deepened our partnership with them, helping us understand and identify their financial needs. Our deep understanding of the locals markets and strong commitment in challenging times has distinguished us from competitors.

Where do you think the opportunities lie going forward?

Differentiation remains the key issue in the Middle East, where the resource-rich economies are expected to show resilience, with growth decelerating only moderately in 2012 despite the economic slowdown in many of the Western economies. Higher oil prices bode well for government finances, enabling authorities to adopt counter-cyclical fiscal policies to stimulate growth as the West decelerates.

© The Business Year – February 2012

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