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

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Have you been doing a brilliant job in an admi...

Surrey County Council: Senior Project Officer (Fixed Term to Feb 2019)

£26,498 - £31,556: Surrey County Council: We are looking for an outgoing, conf...

Recruitment Genius: Interim Head of HR

£50000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you an innovative, senior H...

Recruitment Genius: Human Resources and Payroll Administrator

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client, a very well respect...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn