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
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: HR Manager

£36000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager Shared Services - Uxbridge, - 1 Year contract

£50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager Shared Services - Uxbridge, Stock...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Human Resource Officer and Executive Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join one of...

Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events business) - Central Manchester - £20K

£18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events busi...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power