Local and global

April 2015, Banking & Finance, Miami

Mel Martinez

JPMorgan Chase & Co. Southeast U.S. and Latin America Chairman Mel Martinez discusses the blurring of the local and international in South Florida’s banking sector

As it pertains to the banking sector, what sets South Florida apart from other major U.S. markets?
South Florida is an economy dominated by small and medium enterprises, which means the middle market there is the predominant segment for us. South Florida also has a high concentration of high-net-worth individuals, which provides a strong base for our private banking business. In Miami, there is a strong international presence. While we predominantly service domestic clients, at times it is difficult to distinguish between what is local and what is international. Many aspects of local businesses are international, while many Miami-based businesses are actually branches of international businesses.
 
What developments in Latin America most influence Miami’s banking industry?
Mexico and Brazil have traditionally been the dominant economies in the region, but in the last two years growth in both countries have slowed and we saw a slight decrease in business from both. However, we are excited about the reforms the Mexican government has taken recently – in the areas of energy, education, tax reform – all of which we believe will make Mexico a very attractive place for business, investments and banking.
We anticipate an increase in trade activities coming to and from the region, which will undoubtedly have a profound impact on banking. This is due to the expansion of the Panama Canal, but also the free trade agreements we have entered into – NAFTA, CAFTA-DR, bilateral agreements with Chile and Panama – all of which enhance trade and commerce, and Miami is the largest participant and beneficiary from all of that commercial activity.
 
How do you see the executive action on Cuba impacting banking and commerce in Miami?
The biggest problem is how little we got in return.  Further, as it goes into implementation, the complexity of dealing with the Cuban government appears more clearly.  In the long run, I hope whatever our government does will improve the lives of the Cuban people, including the human rights conditions.
Ultimately, Cuba could be a great trade and commercial partner for South Florida and Miami. That will only happen when conditions for rule of law, including property and labor rights exist in Cuba.
 
What are the key components of JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s medium-term strategy for South Florida?
We will continue to consolidate the different lines of our business to better serve the client end to end; grow our market share and deepen our engagement in the community through our philanthropic and CSR initiatives.