The move to put Jes Staley in place as the clear successor to Jamie Dimon as the chief executive of JP Morgan Chase is another testament to Dimon’s abilities. And it’s a sign that he is no undoubtedly a better executive than his mentor Sandy Weill.
Weill allowed his leadership to become synonymous with Citigroup. He jealously fought off competitors for media and journalist contentions and punished likely successors. In Duff McDonald’s book on Dimon, Last Man Standing, we learn how a New York Times story about Dimon’s rise at the firm sent Weill into a rage.
This turned out to be bad for Citigroup and its shareholders. When Weill had to leave his post at the top of the bank because of the investigations of Eliot Spitzer, the only credible candidate was the bank’s lawyer who many suspected was rewarded for the post for keeping Weill from being indicted. The shares of Citi suffered for years under Charles Prince’s uninspired leadership. Weill’s ego hurt his shareholders.
Dimon isn’t making the same mistake.
“The shakeup shows he will take action to make the world aware that JPMorgan Chase is not Jamie Dimon alone,” McDonald writes at HarvardBusiness.org. “This is helpful for both employees and investors. Staley was recently the subject of a cover story in Institutional Investor, a move that wouldn’t have happened without Dimon’s blessing.”
McDonald also says that he doesn’t think the elevation of Staley signals that Dimon will resign in the near future.
“As he told me during the writing of my book, Last Man Standing, he doesn’t have any intention of stepping down any time soon,” McDonald writes. “He wants to leave the bank in great shape, and he doesn’t think it’s there yet. My bet is that he’ll stick around for at least another three years, if not more. But if you’re betting on who’s next in line, Staley’s position is looking as good as it gets.”
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