Jamie Dimon (Dimon), president of JPMorgan is referred to as one of the best numbers men around, a Wall Street legend or the right-hand man to Sandy Weill – the titan of banking behind Citigroup. He is also known as an aggressive banker, savage cost-cutter, direct boss who eschews excessive wealth ($44.4 million or £22.2 million annual salary) and invests heavily in philanthropy. In 2007, he was ranked 15 on the 25 most powerful people in business by Fortune.
Dimon was born in New York to second-generation Greek immigrants. He has a degree in biology and economics from Tufts, and a MBA from Harvard. At Harvard he met Sandy Weill. Both went on to create the banking major Citigroup and emerged as a powerful force on Wall Street. In 1998, both separated after having worked together for 16 years. Rumor mills suggested that Dimon was fired by Weill for not promoting his daughter in the company.
After leaving Citigroup, Dimon became the chief executive of Bank One. In 2001, Dimon played a key role in the turnaround of Bank One. In January 2004, he negotiated the acquisition of Bank One by JP Morgan Chase & Company. After the merger, Dimon was appointed President and Chief Operating Officer of JP Morgan Chase. The merger was the third largest acquisition (at the time) in the US history at US$ 58 billion.
Dimon, since then has been aggressively involved with JPMorgan and aims to turn it into the biggest and best banking group in the US. So far, he has been successful in his endeavor and is emerging as one of the most successful navigators of the credit crunch. Over the last few years, he has focused strongly on cutting costs, improving technology and integrating JPMorgan’s disparate operations. But he also has been resolute about preparing the company for an economic downturn. While other investment banks are struggling, Dimon managed several accomplishments one after the other. He co-chaired the summit of world and business leaders in Davos, Switzerland. He even persuaded former Prime Minister Tony Blair to sign on as an adviser and ambassador for JPMorgan. And in what is being regarded as his biggest coup, he has plans to prop up Bear Stearns to avoid a full-blown banking crisis. This draws similar reference to John Pierpoint Morgan (JPMorgan’s founder). JP Morgan financed the US government and other large corporations during the Great Depression and the two world wars. In 1907 during the panic, his organization and personal funding for rescuing of the banking system was representative of the end of a long recession.
Similarly Dimon has played a key role in JPMorgan and the Federal Reserve guaranteeing the huge trading obligations of the troubled firm Bear Stearns. JPMorgan agreed to pay only about $270 million in stock for Bear’s big losses on investments linked to mortgages. Dimon negotiated the deal with Bear and government officials, sleeping only for a few hours over the weekend. Though Dimon had his doubts about the deal and has not been an aggressive acquirer since his joining the company, the quick decision making to buy Bear is outstanding.