The Jamie Switcheroo & Ellison’s Wishful Thinking

JPMorgan Chase is no closer to solving its succession problem after this game of musical chairs than it was before, especially since Jamie has zero reason to turn down a $50 million thank-you card in 2026.
JPMorgan Chase is no closer to solving its succession problem after this game of musical chairs than it was before, especially since Jamie has zero reason to turn down a $50 million thank-you card in 2026. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images
William D. Cohan
January 28, 2024

It’s no secret that JPMorgan Chase, our biggest and most profitable bank, is struggling with the question of succession. When you are looking to replace a guy like Jamie Dimon, the greatest banker of his generation, you don’t want to make a mistake. Before Dimon got to JPMorgan Chase, in 2005, the place was essentially a mess—a mishmash of poorly integrated mergers and cultures, under the leadership of the elegant but flawed Bill Harrison. (Loyal readers will recall, of course, that I was there and remember those days well.) Harrison’s best decision as C.E.O. was acqui-hiring Jamie via the Bank One deal, and then promptly getting out of the way so that he could run the place.  

That was a brilliant masterstroke, and one that Jamie is having a tough time replicating. Not that Dimon is planning to go anywhere soon. He’s a healthy 67 years old and the bank is running on all cylinders, having just produced a record profit of $50 billion in 2023—the most money any financial institution has made in one year, ever. With a market value in excess of $500 billion, Jamie’s bank is a powerhouse. Jamie himself has become a billionaire, thanks to his stewardship and his board’s understandable generosity, which persists to this day. (If he sticks around until 2026, he gets another $50 million retention bonus just for doing his job) Not since Jimmy Cayne, at Bear Stearns in its heyday, has a non-founder on Wall Street been worth $1 billion or more in his bank’s stock.