Chi Nzelu: Transforming business through innovation, prudence
Chi, as he is fondly called by friends and colleagues, joined JP Morgan 15 years ago, and has been instrumental to the creation and implementation of several innovative ideas that have helped in positioning the institution in the forefront of the banking industry in Europe. Currently, he oversees the development of electronic trading algorithms for foreign exchange, commodities, and interest rates.
This is no mean feat, because JP Morgan is well-known for its excellence and professionalism when it comes to electronic trading in the fixed income, currencies, and commodities (FICC) asset class. Indeed, the institution has one of the largest platforms in this regard. And leading all of this is Nzelu, who, through his wealth of experience in the industry, has helped in establishing the needed infrastructure and strategies to broaden the client base, strategise for the future, and boost the bank’s fortunes.
He has stamped his authority particularly in the efforts to find a solution to the urgent need to adapt to the dynamics in the industry, in the face of today’s ever-changing financial domain and chart a path that will ensure that JP Morgan is not only able to hold its own in the competitive world of banking but is also able to maintain its lead.
This is particularly imperative, given the fact that new industries are always springing up, forcing older ones that are bereft of ideas to lag behind or close shop. And of course, centuries-old firms, such as JP Morgan cannot shift gears as quickly as a startup. So, survival and victory lie in being on top of the game.
But with his innovative ideas and projections, Chi has helped in building one of the largest institutional currency trading franchises through automation, thereby pushing the organisation to the forefront. He also drives the execution component of the firmwide digital markets strategy.
Together with his colleagues in the other sections that make up the winning team, JP Morgan has recorded giant strides. For instance, the establishment registered its dominance in the industry in 2018, when it was voted the winner of the FX Week Best Banks Awards. At the event, JP Morgan collected nine medals, including the Best Bank Overall for Foreign Exchange Dealing.
On a personal level, Chinedum is no stranger to winning awards. On several occasions in the past, he had been recognised for his innovation and exceptional performance in the industry. One of these momentous occasions occurred in 2016 when he emerged as a finalist in the Black British Business Awards (BBBA).
London-based Nzelu’s success in transforming JP Morgan’s finance department lies in his ability and willingness to challenge the status quo at every juncture. When it comes to executing policies and achieving goals in his field of specialty, Chinedum is exceptionally daring and foresight in thinking outside the box.
He said: “I continuously ask: ‘Why has it always been done this way? How could we be doing it differently?’ It is really an exercise in taking a step back and opening everything up to be challenged.
“Articulating a vision across a large organisation and getting everyone on the same page is hard. Innovating technology is one thing, but innovating mindsets is another.”
To achieve this, he has several strategies, which he applies accordingly. One of these is employing cultural diversity as a tool for garnering assorted thoughts and ideas that will appeal to different segments of society.
To him, having Black, Asian and mixed-ethnicity (BAME) onboard helps bring new perspectives to legacy banks.
“The crux of the issue is the diversity of thought that BAME people bring to organisations. Characters, experiences, philosophies, and perspectives from different cultures are extremely important for innovation,” he said.
Born in Lagos, Nzelu attended Federal Government College, Ijanikin. Thereafter, he proceeded to the United Kingdom, where he obtained his first and second degrees in Engineering and Computer Science in 2002 and 2003.
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