Interview with James Ask from J.P. Morgan


Through programs like The Muster, Bunker Brews, and the Launch Lab X Cohort, Bunker Labs continues its mission to Inspire, Equip, and Connect veteran entrepreneurs throughout their business journeys. However, these programs would not be possible without the generous support of corporate sponsors like J.P. Morgan. We spoke with James Ask, U.S. Navy Veteran and Vice President of J.P. Morgan Private Bank about how J.P. Morgan gives back to the veteran community. Here’s what he had to say:

James Ask,  VP at J.P. Morgan Private Bank

James Ask,

VP at J.P. Morgan Private Bank

BL: Tell us a little about your role within J.P. Morgan.

JA: Sure! I’m a Vice President at J.P. Morgan Private Bank in Philadelphia. I work with private not for profits, individuals and families, and provide wealth management solutions across investments, wealth planning, credit and banking. We focus on how to help them build and preserve their wealth for themselves and future generations.


BL: How did J.P. Morgan become involved with Bunker Labs?

JA: So the initial involvement actually began on a national level – Bunker Labs fell on the radar of the firm’s philanthropic team, and J.P. Morgan’s commitment to veterans, both hiring and training veterans as well our commitment to small businesses and veteran-owned small businesses fell right in line with the mission of Bunker Labs.

Locally, I got to know this chapter through a fellow Naval Academy graduate Mike Maher who helped to launch Bunker Labs Philadelphia. I started attending events and it was more of a coincidence that J.P. Morgan happened to the national sponsor for the Muster, but I know that each chapter does look for local support as well. I've kind of seen myself as an advocate for Bunker Labs Philadelphia here with the local team.


BL: How does J.P. Morgan support the veteran community?

JA: J.P. Morgan makes an effort to hire and train veterans. Around the time that we started, we were one of the founding companies for the Hundred Thousand Jobs mission. There are several programs for veterans who are transitioning on a rotational basis that allows them to come to J.P. Morgan and get experience within different lines of business.

But outside of the hiring component, there’s a lot that the firm does. We committed to awarding mortgage-free homes to deserving veteran families. We partner with some not-for-profits in this space, who do a great job in locating and qualifying candidates and families for these homes, and preparing them for the transition and the expenses that will come after. I've gotten to participate in a couple of those key ceremonies. It's tremendously impactful. Seeing the family's reaction when they get to their home for the first time, that's really, really special.

Then, it's part of a larger kind of small business incubation and commercial banking program. We view veteran-owned small businesses as a couple of key stakeholders or groups to empower in local communities where we operate and serve. Where we can support and provide resources to those veteran-owned small businesses, we see that as a way to benefit communities and really allow them to grow economically. Once they reach a certain point, we can start to work with them, their employees, and it just kind of makes great business sense, but it also makes great civic sense.


BL: What is the motivation behind J.P. Morgan’s support of the veteran community?

JA: J.P. Morgan has a history of dedication to the veteran community - over 13,000 veterans and service members have been hired by JPMorgan Chase since 2011. First and foremost, it's a cognition and a gratefulness of the sacrifices that veterans make and have made to keep the country protected and safe. A stable and peaceful country like ours affords businesses the space and opportunity needed to focus on serving the needs of their customers, and really driving growth, which benefits the company, and it benefits shareholders and their communities. To the extent that veterans in the United States have afforded all of the things that we're allowed to do as a society, J.P. Morgan as a responsible corporate citizen is very grateful for those things.  

Then, there's also not just our firm but many others have recognized that there is a business component to it as well. Veterans’ services and some of the skills that they've learned, they're not always directly translatable into the workforce, but the ways that they've developed those skills are. Dealing with pressure situations, handling responsibility, being able to adapt and be flexible, all those things that make you successful in your military career, they're pretty universal.

So, hiring a veteran just makes sense from a business perspective because you now have a candidate who is a little more tested. You can be a little more comfortable in bringing them on and teaching them the skills they'll need to do the work. Just knowing that they've got that resiliency. Then they're also used to working in teams, so you can have a little bit more comfort as well in knowing that those folks are going to be great resources as you grow and expand your employee base.