JPMorgan's Dimon survives shareholder referendum

JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon
JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon

TAMPA — Shareholders at JPMorgan Chase will let Jamie Dimon, the chairman and CEO, keep both his jobs.

At the bank’s annual meeting, 32 percent of shareholders voted for a measure that would have called for the bank to split the roles. The vote was nonbinding, but supporters of it wanted Mr. Dimon to relinquish the role of chairman.

Shareholder groups lobbying for the split gained momentum from last year’s surprise $6 billion trading loss, which tarnished the reputation of both JPMorgan Chase & Co. and CEO Dimon. The bank and Mr. Dimon had argued that letting Mr. Dimon keep both jobs was the most effective form of leadership.

It’s a topic that has turned into a referendum on Mr. Dimon, who emerged from the financial crisis heading one of the strongest banks in the country. His reputation has been hurt over the past year over fallout from the so-called “London whale” trading loss, nicknamed for its size and the location of the trader who made the outsized bets on complex debt securities that went wrong.

The meeting, held at company offices on the outskirts of Tampa, had fewer theatrics than last year, which was held just days after the trading loss was disclosed. Last year, two or three dozen protesters showed up, but today was quieter. One woman with a cardboard sign was spotted, but only briefly.

The bank is facing regulatory investigations and lawsuits, not only over the trading loss but other practices including foreclosures and alleged rigging of power prices. Michael Garland from the New York City Comptroller’s Office, which supports splitting the roles, said he appreciated that JPMorgan led its peers by certain financial measures. But, he added, “it also leads its peers in regulatory investigations.”

Lisa Lindsley from the union group AFSCME, which filed the proposal asking to split the jobs, said the bank needed “a new tone at the top.” She said the proposal was never intended as a referendum against Mr. Dimon or a “personality contest,” but as a measure for the best risk management.