Photo: CNN Money via JPMorgan Chase
This week’s New York Times Magazine chronicles Ina Drew’s steady rise through the ranks of JPMorgan and her unceremonious resignation from the bank after overseeing a unit of responsible for a $5.8 billion loss in botched bets as part of the “London Whale” scandal earlier this year.In a “The Woman Who Took the Fall for JPMorgan Chase,” Susan Dominus spoke to dozens of Drew’s friends and former co-workers, including JPM CEO Jamie Dimon, who praised the former Chief Investment Officer for being a bold woman in the Wall Street boys’ club.
In 1981, Drew started as a trader at Chemical Bank which would merge and acquire its way to become JPMorgan and was “one of the few women to rise steadily into the management ranks on Wall Street.” Co-workers said “she had that mystique” and “like the Sheryl Sandberg figure to those of us in her group.”
Anecdotes of Drew deflecting a come on with “brusque direct humour” were second to those of her demonstrating “unparalleled expertise” in bond trading. In her finest hour, she helped guide the bank through the 2008 financial crisis by pouring almost $200 billion into secure, long-term government-backed loans which spiked in value after it became clear interest rates would drop.
For 30 years, she served merger after merger and became one of the bank’s top executives, answering directly to its CEO.
Dominus writes the “$6 billion mistake” unhinged Drew (from the NYT):
“When other crises hit the bank, Drew had seemed, by all accounts, her most alive and alert. But in this instance, she seemed unable to step back and look at the big picture. Faith in Drew’s ability to handle the crisis started to seep away.”
The story reveals that Drew never thought her unit would have to unwind London trader Bruno Iksil’s position, which she believed to be a long-term one.
Still, Dimon has praised Drew for her hard work at the company since the scandal hit and told Dominus that he had no reason to suspect the quality of risk control in the Chief Investment Office had gone awry.
“Honestly, I don’t care what second-guessers say in life,” Dimon told Dominus. “If anyone in the company knew, they should have said something. No one came to us beforehand and said we have a problem we should be looking at.”