Bryan Gray, in charge of JPMorgan’s custody sales and customer relationships in Australia and New Zealand, has three women working flexible hours for him as relationship managers.

By lore, relationship managers are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. But Gray seems remarkably liberal about working hours.

“They have great relationships with clients,” says Gray of his colleagues. “They’re always there, but clients recognise their working arrangements.”

Perhaps it is the influence of a wife and two teenage girls on the Scottish-born New Zealander that has made Gray pragmatic instead of dogmatic.

He has brought the same attitude to other aspects of JPMorgan’s custody business, most notably this year when the bank lost its custody contract with the $20-billion fund REST Industry Super to State Street.

“We don’t like it when we lose business,” says Gray in a matter-of-fact manner. “But we take the feedback we get and learn from it.”

REST told JPMorgan it thought the New York-based bank had fallen behind on technology.

Gray and his team immediately informed their colleagues in New York. Gray is happy to report there has been “an absolute turnaround in client-facing technology” over the last three months.

The bank’s asset-management clients are now alerted on corporate actions they should attend to: a red-coded message means the action is urgent and should be completed the same day. Amber means the action should be attended to quickly and a green message means the client has time to attend to it.

Gray says he was struck by the attitude at an internal operations leadership meeting last month. JPMorgan operations staff complete fund accounting and other performance measurements for all the bank’s clients. Their accuracy rate on valuations produced is more than 99 per cent.

“The operations managers were saying that if they talked to a Qantas engineer and he said he was more than 99-per-cent satisfied with the work he had done, they probably wouldn’t get on the plane,” recalls Gray.

“The operations guys are pushing themselves to be 100-per-cent accurate in their work,” he says. “That attitude is what will one day leapfrog us to number one.”

As of December 2011, JPMorgan was the number-two custodian in Australia, with $367 billion assets under custody or a 20-per-cent market share. National Australia Bank has a 30-per-cent market share.

JPMorgan is not only calling in its global technology experts or stressing its commitment to accuracy in its client reporting, but also cementing relationships with some of Australia’s biggest superannuation funds.

Robert Bedwell, a JPMorgan investment banker, helps augment Gray’s 20-member team by talking with chief investment officers and occasionally fund chief executives about what they want from their bankers amid domestic and overseas regulatory pressures, volatile markets and brand management.

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