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?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Ashdown Group: HR Manager - West London - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - West London - £...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment & HR Administrator

£17000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Guru Careers: HR Manager / HR Business Partner

£55 - 65k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: A HR Manager / HR Business Partner i...

Austen Lloyd: Practice / HR Manager - Somerset

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

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

Tribal gathering

Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously

Illnesses, car crashes and suicides

Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously
Srebrenica 20 years after the genocide: Why the survivors need closure

Bosnia's genocide, 20 years on

No-one is admitting where the bodies are buried - literally and metaphorically
How Comic-Con can make or break a movie: From Batman vs Superman to Star Wars: Episode VII

Power of the geek Gods

Each year at Comic-Con in San Diego, Hollywood bosses nervously present blockbusters to the hallowed crowd. It can make or break a movie
What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?

Perfect match

What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?
10 best trays

Get carried away with 10 best trays

Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
Wimbledon 2015: Team Murray firing on all cylinders for SW19 title assault

Team Murray firing on all cylinders for title assault

Coaches Amélie Mauresmo and Jonas Bjorkman aiming to make Scot Wimbledon champion again
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!
Ashes 2015: Angus Fraser's top 10 moments from previous series'

Angus Fraser's top 10 Ashes moments

He played in five series against Australia and covered more as a newspaper correspondent. From Waugh to Warne and Hick to Headley, here are his highlights
Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high