JPMorgan lines up ex-regulator to chair UK digital bank


JPMorgan has lined up a former senior City regulator to lead its efforts to launch a digital bank in the UK as it becomes the latest large US lender to attempt to force its way into the crowded British market.

Clive Adamson, former head of supervision at the Financial Conduct Authority, has been asked to chair the new business which aims to open later this year, according to two people briefed on the bank’s plans.

Mr Adamson has already held several non-executive roles at JPMorgan since leaving the regulator in 2015, including chairing its international business between 2016 and 2019. He is currently a non-executive director at JPMorgan Securities PLC, one of its main European legal entities.

He also has experience on the board of a retail lender, having chaired the risk committee at Virgin Money until last November, when he stepped down to take an unspecified “external appointment”.

Sky News first reported that America’s biggest bank was gearing up to launch a new UK operation on Saturday. The plans follow rival Goldman Sachs’ expansion into UK retail banking through its Marcus brand in 2018.

Marcus quickly gathered more than £13bn in deposits in the UK by offering some of the highest interest rates available, helping to drive up costs particularly for smaller banks without access to cheap deposits from current account customers.

However, while Marcus currently only offers savings products in the UK, JPMorgan is expected to target a broader audience with lending products as well.

John Cronin, analyst at Goodbody, said: “The UK has lots of players but the competitive landscape is still very concentrated, and for someone with financial firepower and sophisticated lending capability there could be an opportunity to shake up the market.

Mr Cronin predicted that the large UK banks would be “more concerned” about a broader retail offering from JPMorgan than they were by Goldman’s entry into the savings market.

One senior executive at a UK high street bank acknowledged that JPMorgan “already does consumer [banking] quite well so that may give them an advantage”, but said breaking into the UK at scale would be “a long and expensive game”.

“The only people making money in UK banking are the incumbents . . . being plugged in and having a back book . . . helps enormously.”

JPMorgan previously opened a standalone digital bank in the US called Finn in 2018, but closed it after only a year when it struggled to gain customers or differentiate itself from the bank’s main Chase network.

“Anything Goldman Sachs can do, JPM can do better, or at least copy it,” said David Brear, chief executive of digital banking consultancy 11FS.

He added: “Having attempted to do this already in the US, it’s interesting that JPM is having another go at this in a completely different market. By moving to the UK where they have no operations, this allows them to really rethink the things that matter most.”

JPMorgan declined to comment. Mr Adamson could not immediately be reached for comment.

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