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Economic Slowdown Sparks Restructuring At LabMorgan

LabMorgan, the e-finance engine for J.P. Morgan Chase, has refocused its mission towards that of championing internal improvements within the bank.

LabMorgan, the e-finance engine for J.P. Morgan Chase, has refocused its mission towards that of championing internal improvements within the bank.

Prior to the recent downturn in the U.S. economy, LabMorgan had acted as a pipeline for identifying, investing and commercializing promising financial technology initiatives. Now, under the leadership of Martha Gallo, LabMorgan will drive "Six Sigma" quality initiatives within J.P. Morgan Chase.

Ameet Patel (subject of the Executive Q&A in the October 2001 issue of BS&T) will continue as CTO of LabMorgan, staying on top of technology trends. The unit will also retain its "e-Strategists," who are subject matter experts in various lines of business at the bank.

J.P. Morgan Partners, the bank's private equity fund, will take over the approximately 60 equity stakes that had been part of the LabMorgan stable. As a result, many of the LabMorgan consultants who had worked with the portfolio companies will have to be reassigned to various lines of business within the bank or at the portfolio companies.

Denis O'Leary, formerly an executive manager at LabMorgan, will work on payment opportunities and strategic ventures for J.P. Morgan Chase. "The technologies of plastic or online capabilities are starting to increasingly take more share of the payment flow," said O'Leary. "I'm going to be spending time with David Coulter and his team to make sure that we're one of the leaders in that transformation."

The reconstituted LabMorgan will pursue "Six Sigma" initiatives that promise to streamline operating processes. Six Sigma refers to the goal of reducing variability in operating procedures to the point that errors occur rarely, if ever. "We have massive amounts of throughput that goes through here each day, so one of our expertises is managing transaction flow and managing associated information with those transactions," said O'Leary.

Prior to the merger with Chase Bank, J.P. Morgan had applied Six Sigma concepts at the corporate level. After the merger, those initiatives were extended to Chase as well.

"Throughout J.P. Morgan Chase, there are Six Sigma initiatives in every line of business, with a central group headed by Martha Gallo, who will act as advisor and focus the overall program," said O'Leary. "Six Sigma has a natural home in financial institutions."

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