Philip McNeal, who turned an engineering background into a 30-year career at JPMorgan Chase & Co. where his rise to managing director earned him attention as one of the most-influential blacks on Wall Street, has died. He was 60.
He died on May 27 at his home in Montclair, New Jersey, according to a notice posted online by his family. The cause was pancreatic cancer.
McNeal began his working life as a project engineer for what is today Exxon Mobil Corp., the family said. In 1984, he joined New York-based JPMorgan as an investment banker in its Natural Resources and Power Group, according to a company-provided biography. By 2000, he was heading the U.S. private bank lending practice and later ran strategy and planning for its global lending and deposits business.
In 2005, as a senior private banker in the executive wealth group, McNeal advised corporate chief executive officers and affluent families.
“People trusted Philip and he had an unbelievable way with clients,” Nelle Miller, head of the executive wealth group at JPMorgan (JPM)’s Private Bank, said yesterday in a telephone interview. “He was the ultimate client person.”
McNeal’s promotions gained him notice as part of a new wave of African-Americans establishing careers in finance. Black Enterprise magazine included him in an October 2002 cover story headlined, “Top 50 African Americans on Wall Street.” He was spotlighted again when the publication revisited the subject in its October 2011 edition with an article headlined, “75 Most Powerful Blacks on Wall Street.”
At JPMorgan the day after his death, a moment of silence was observed during the bank’s 8 a.m. global wealth management meeting and conference call, Miller said.
Philip Webster McNeal was born on Dec. 6, 1953, in St. Louis, the only child of Theodore McNeal and his wife Virgie. His father, a labor and civil rights leader, was the first black elected to the Missouri state senate, where he served for a decade during the 1960s, and the first African-American president of the St. Louis Board of Police Commissioners, according to “Dictionary of Missouri Biography,” published by the University of Missouri Press (1999).
The couple’s only child was named after U.S. labor leaders A. Philip Randolph and Milton Webster, who the elder McNeal had worked with, according to the family.
McNeal earned his Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering in 1976 at the University of Missouri-Rolla, now known as Missouri University of Science and Technology.
In 1994 at JPMorgan, after his initial assignment in the Natural Resources and Power Group, he began managing the syndicated loan origination business for technology, media, telecommunications and other industries, according to the company biography. Three years later, he moved to the high-yield capital markets business with responsibility for serving natural resource and power clients.
McNeal was a trustee of Newark Academy in Livingston, New Jersey, a former trustee of Montclair Kimberley Academy and past president of Human Needs Food Pantry in Montclair. He also served on the board of Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla.
In 1989, McNeal married the former Glenda Goodly. In January, she surprised him with a 60th birthday party. Shortly after that he was diagnosed with cancer.
“Philip’s battle to the end with this devastating disease was marked by the same integrity, clarity, and steadiness of spirit he embodied in his work and personal life,” his family wrote in the notice posted online. “Philip passed away at home, surrounded by those he loved most on the eve of his and Glenda’s 25th wedding anniversary.”
His survivors include his wife, Glenda McNeal, executive vice president and general manager, global client group at New York-based American Express Co.; their daughter Sydney and son Carter; his mother, Virgie McNeal; and a half-brother Theodore McNeal Jr.
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