Jamie Dimon is handing over more of the day-to-day running of JPMorgan Chase to his two most senior executives, in the clearest sign yet that he intends to step down when his contract ends in five years.
JPMorgan named two co-presidents in January — Daniel Pinto, who runs the bank’s corporate and investment bank, and Gordon Smith, who heads its consumer banking arm — when Mr Dimon agreed to remain at the helm.
Asked if he was leaving more of the bank’s management to Mr Pinto and Mr Smith, Mr Dimon, now 62 and Wall Street’s longest-serving bank chief executive, told the Financial Times: “There’s a little truth to that.”
“When you have Tom Bradys on the field, you let them be the quarterback and you can be the coach,” he said, referring to one of the two American football players to win five Super Bowl championships. “In many cases, I’m more like the coach now. That’s totally appropriate.”
Mr Pinto, who is based in London, said: “Jamie is a great CEO but he’s human. He has a lot of external engagements, and he travels a lot. So essentially now we share among the three of us.”
Mr Smith said he goes to Mr Dimon on issues “far more often than he’ll go to me”.
“He understands and follows details, he gives feedback, and he checks and verifies things,” said Mr Smith. “It’s not a micro-management approach but if things aren’t going well, he will be all over the problem, all over you — trying to fix whatever isn’t working.”
Both Mr Smith, 60, and Mr Pinto, 55, are seen as potential successors to Mr Dimon, along with chief financial officer Marianne Lake, 49, who some now argue is the frontrunner, thanks to her youth and stature among investors.
Several other potential successors — including Bill Winters, Standard Chartered chief executive, and Jes Staley, Barclays chief executive — have left JPMorgan during Mr Dimon’s 13-year reign.
“Some we asked to leave, some I didn’t want to leave,” Mr Dimon told the FT in a wide-ranging interview to mark the 10th anniversary of the financial crisis. “Some wanted to try something else. Succession is 100 per cent up to the board, and the board wouldn’t allow me to force out a succession candidate.”
Reflecting on the bank’s crisis-time decisions, Mr Dimon said JPMorgan would “act for the good of the system” if asked again, despite his regrets over his bank’s crisis-time rescue of Bear Stearns, which resulted in JPMorgan paying big fines.
“We took a lot of actions that had nothing to do with profit motive. We felt a responsibility to help the system,” he said.
“We lent more than $80bn to Lehman after bankruptcy. The collateral was worth more than that, and we went through that collateral every single day; if positions lost money, we would be an unsecured creditor to Lehman.”
The bank ultimately got its money back from Lehman but ended up paying more than $14bn in fines relating to its takeovers of Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual, according to calculations by analysts at Autonomous.
“Despite the penalties, we would act for the good of the system again. But I would be very cautious as to whether we’d be creating ongoing legal liability for the company,” said Mr Dimon.
“It wasn’t us versus our competitors during the crisis . . . we wanted to do right for the system.”
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