INCREASING POSITIVE PERCEPTIONS

Colombia 2020 | FINANCE | INTERVIEW

J.P. Morgan has expanded Colombia's access to global capital markets through adding it to its GBI-EM and working with the government to improve financial practices.

Ángela Hurtado
BIOGRAPHY

Ángela Hurtado is J.P. Morgan's Senior Country Officer for Colombia. She joined J.P. Morgan in 2006 as a derivatives trader and a year later became head of local markets. Hurtado has greatly contributed to the establishment and expansion of the firm's footprint in Colombia, both with local and international clients. Prior to joining J.P. Morgan, she worked at Banco de Bogotá for six years as head of the derivative structuring team and on the fixed-income and FX desks. She started her career as an intern at the Ministry of Finance and Public Credit Colombia. Hurtado has an international finance degree from Universidad Externado de Colombia.

What aspects of the country's economy has stood out since J.P. Morgan arrived in Colombia?
J.P. Morgan has been operating in Colombia since 1964 and expanded its presence in the country in 2006 with the opening of J.P. Morgan Corporacion Financiera, a subsidiary. The bank has been growing alongside our Colombian clients using its first-class global platform and expertise and pairing it with a strong local presence. We are especially proud of the work helping institutional investors and large corporate clients expand and diversify. J.P. Morgan's role in expanding Colombia's access to global capital markets has been extremely relevant. In 2014, Colombia was included in J.P. Morgan's Government Bond Index-Emerging Markets (GBI-EM), effectively bringing foreign capital into the country. Today, institutional investors like pension funds or wealth manager funds globally have a positive perception and knowledge of Colombia that did not exist a decade ago.

What efforts has J.P. Morgan made to improve practices in the market?
In the capital markets, we have been working closely with the government to improve practices and standardize derivatives, which is crucial for Colombia to compete with other emerging markets. We also see plenty of opportunities to keep growing the local stock market. Regarding debt capital markets, Colombia is a benchmark in Latin America due to its depth, turnover, liquidity, and commitment of participants. J.P. Morgan has been active in the creation of an interest rate market critical for companies, as it helps them hedge risks and strengthens their balance sheets. J.P. Morgan is now able to offer clients in Colombia hedges for up to 20 years in different rates.

What benefits will an investor identify in Colombia to invest here?
Colombia has strong institutions and incredible potential. Regardless of economic or political cycles, investors have seen over the years that they can rely on Colombia. The country learnt from the crisis at the end of the 1990s that it needed to implement significant changes to the financial system, and today banks and financial institutions have become one of the country's biggest strengths. All the relevant political parties in the political spectrum are equally committed to macro stability and institutionalism. Colombia is also a much more open country than others in the region. We are an attractive market for businesses, with a young and growing population of 50 million and a rapidly growing middle class.

What positive consequences could this growth bring, and how does this relate to J.P. Morgan's commitment to Colombia?
We need to continue to invest in innovation if we want to keep helping the country and our clients grow. Infrastructure is a sector that will drive economic expansion. J.P. Morgan plans to continue working closely with the government and private corporations in this area. J.P. Morgan is also extremely committed to the communities where we have a presence. We are trying to improve standards in terms of diversity, social responsibility, and philanthropy, directly funding projects and offering J.P. Morgan's expertise. We do encourage our employees to use working hours to volunteer for these initiatives. In Colombia, for example, we have been working with a group of women called Women in Connection to improve gender equality in the country. We use the visibility of powerful women to improve corporate practices, align public policies, and bring in men as allies, among other initiatives.