JPMorgan Chase puts CEO contenders in charge of consumer operation

JPMorgan Chase is putting two of the contenders to succeed chief executive Jamie Dimon in charge of its sprawling consumer-banking operation.

The bank on 18 May said consumer-lending chief Marianne Lake and chief financial officer Jennifer Piepszak are taking the reins of its consumer and community bank from Gordon Smith, who will retire at the end of the year.

Jeremy Barnum, the bank’s head of global research, will become finance chief. The changes take effect immediately.

The move comes two years after JPMorgan put Lake and Piepszak in their current roles and established them as front-runners to one day run America’s biggest bank. The decision to place the women, both 51 years old, in charge of a unit that serves half of all US households and accounts for roughly 40% of the bank’s profits further cements that status.

Smith is JPMorgan’s co-president and co-chief operating officer alongside Daniel Pinto, who leads its corporate and investment bank. The two men briefly ran JPMorgan last year when Dimon was recovering from emergency heart surgery. But at 62m Smith’s age put him out of contention to succeed Dimon, who is 65, on a permanent basis.

In an interview, Smith said he is stepping down to spend more time with his wife and family. Lake and Piepszak, he said, are “superb leaders” who made the decision easier.

Dimon has maintained that his retirement isn’t a near-term event — for years his standard answer to the perennial question from analysts and journalists has been “five more years.”

But the move will leave the 58-year-old Pinto alone in the role of CEO in an emergency, known internally as the “Jamie got hit by a bus” scenario.

Smith is the last remaining member of the bank’s operating committee of top leaders who served through the financial crisis with Dimon. He joined JPMorgan in June 2007 from American Express to help build the bank’s credit-card operation. In a statement, Dimon called him one of his best-ever hires.

He was given charge of the entire consumer operation in 2012 and elevated, with Pinto, to their firmwide roles in 2018.

JPMorgan’s consumer and card operations have expanded dramatically in recent years. The bank has bet big on its popular Sapphire credit cards. And by the end of July, it will have branches in every US state but Alaska and Hawaii.

READ Jamie Dimon’s Zoom fatigue is a sign home-working backlash is coming

Smith said he and his wife had decided over the Christmas holiday that 2021 would make a good last year. He has no plans to take another banking job — he turned down the CEO role at Wells Fargo in 2019 — and will remain an adviser to Dimon and the bank following his retirement.

“If I wanted to keep working full time, I wouldn’t be leaving,” Smith said.

This article was published by The Wall Street Journal.

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