Jamie Dimon's cancer scare: Investors fret over JPMorgan succession

Dimon will begin radiation and chemotherapy treatment in the coming weeks

New York

The news that JPMorgan Chase’s chief executive and chairman Jamie Dimon has been diagnosed with curable throat cancer has raised the issue of succession at America’s biggest bank.

Mr Dimon’s diagnosis has also re-raised the issue of the American habit of having the same person holding both the chairman and chief executive job titles.

The 58-year-old told colleagues his prognosis is excellent and that he will continue working as normal while undergoing eight weeks of treatment, but shareholders always want reassurance that succession plans are in place – despite this being an issue many companies are reluctant to talk about.

One potential successor, Mike Cavanagh, recently left JPMorgan Chase to join the private equity firm Carlyle, becoming just the latest senior executive to leave the bank.

Others could include Gordon Smith, the head of JPMorgan’s consumer bank; its chief operating officer Matt Zames; Mary Erdoes, head of asset management; Daniel Pinto, head of the corporate and investment bank; Doug Petno, head of the commercial bank; and the chief financial officer Marianne Lake.

“It’s an uncomfortable discussion,” the corporate governance expert Lucy Marcus said. “We all have difficulty talking succession planning, but it must be discussed.”

In JPMorgan’s case, Ms Marcus said many issues arise because one individual holds so much power and influence.

“Where you have the chairman and the CEO as one person and so much power and charisma, so much of the identification of the organisation is built around Jamie Dimon.”

Ms Marcus said the roles should be split. “If something should happen – we are mortal and you could get hit by a bus – what happens? This is one of the largest organisations in the world.

“The fact that so much power and so much of the bank’s identity is wrapped up in one person – that is an issue.”

Mr Dimon told investors earlier this year he hoped to stay at the helm at JPMorgan for about five years, after previously hinting he would consider leaving if the roles of chairman and chief executive were ever split.

In his written message to investors and colleagues on Tuesday night, Mr Dimon stressed he would work as normal during his treatment.

“While my travel will be curtailed during this period, I have been advised that I will be able to continue to be actively involved in our business, and we will continue to run the company as normal. I feel very good now and will let all of you know if my health situation changes.”

Apple was criticised for not being 100 per cent honest with shareholders about Steve Jobs’ illnesses. While JPMorgan and Mr Dimon have communicated well on this issue so far, shareholders need to be assurance succession plans for the top jobs are firmly in place.

Mr Dimon was a smoker in the 1980s but gave up, urging fellow executives to do the same, his biographer claims.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Austen Lloyd: Practice / HR Manager - Somerset

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: A rare and exciting opportunity for a Practice...

Ashdown Group: HR Executive

£20000 - £23000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: An exciting opportunity...

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£150 - £180 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: A mainstream Secondary school in C...

Guru Careers: HR Administrator / Training Coordinator

COMPETITIVE: Guru Careers: An HR Administrator / Training Coordinator is requi...

Day In a Page

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'
Singapore's domestic workers routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals

Singapore's hidden secret of domestic worker abuse

David Cameron was shown the country's shiniest veneer on his tour. What he didn't see was the army of foreign women who are routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals
Showdown by Shirley Jackson: A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic

Showdown, by Shirley Jackson

A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic
10 best DSLRs

Be sharp! 10 best DSLRs

Up your photography game with a versatile, powerful machine
Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

Solved after 200 years

The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

Sunken sub

Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

Age of the selfie

Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

Not so square

How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

Still carrying the torch

The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

...but history suggests otherwise
The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

The bald truth

How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

Tour de France 2015

Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

A new beginning for supersonic flight?

Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash