Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Profiling Jamie Dimon

There's an interesting article in Fortune magazine about Jamie Damon, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase. I've actually met the man in person. Back when he was the CEO of Bank One, I was summoned to his office, without prior notice, to answer some questions about a contract that I was helping to renegotiate. At first, when his name flashed on my caller ID, I thought it was a joke. So, the stories you hear about him talking to regular staffers to be sure that he's getting the real story are true. Thankfully, I was able to answer his questions reasonably well. So, there wasn't any shouting or screaming during that discussion. But in a follow up conference call with some other colleagus, he did raise his voice, and it was quite unpleasant.

Anyway, Jamie is known throughout the company and on Wall Street as a ruthless cost cutter. But what I didn't know is that Jamie is just as frugal at home as he is at work. "At home, spying a not totally empty bottle of ketchup in the trash ignites an explosion. At one point Dimon was appalled to see that his daughters were using bushels of towels--so he imposed a strict quota of one a week. He's so frugal that, to the shock of family and friends, he continued to wear T-shirts with the Citigroup logo long after Citi had fired him." This is a man who earns millions of dollars each year.

The other item worth noting in the article is the huge disparity in salaries between heritage Bank One and JPMC employees before the merger. "Regional bank managers at J.P. Morgan earned around $2 million -- five times the $400,000 that comparable Bank One people made." Wow. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have felt too good about my job if I were a regional bank manager from the Bank One side. Even if you account for cost of living adjustments, JPMorgan employees were way overpaid, and according to Jamie, they knew it. "'I'd tell people they were way overpaid,' Dimon recalls, 'and guess what? They already knew it.' The kicker: Most of the managers stayed on despite the cuts."

The article is pretty long but well worth the read. The man is definitely a fascinating individual. It'll be interesting to follow his career in the next few years. And as a JPMC stockholder, I really hope he succeeds in vanquishing his competitors ;-)


mapgirl said...

He sounds like the head of Duty-Free Shops. The CEO had a $15 watch, which during a press conference he corrected them and told the press that it was actually only a $5 watch!

I can respect that. I can't respect ppl who roll up to board meetings in limos.

IRA said...

A $5 watch? Wow. Maybe he has a tendency to lose or misplace watches? ;-)

At a town hall meeting, Jamie Dimon said something to the effect that we should treat company resources like our own personal stuff (i.e., turn off the lights in our offices after we've gone home for the evening). I just had to laugh. He clearly was under the mistaken impression that people are as frugal as he is.