The government announced on Jan. 7 that J.P.Morgan and Chase is paying $2.6 billion to settle its role in the Bernie Madoff case. Big regulatory penalties are nothing new to JPMorgan of course — there’s a $13 billion receipt as proof — but many JPMorgan supporters say that Jamie Dimon’s aggressive tactics in settling these cases will help the company put the past behind it and move forward.
But there is another group of people that are now asking another question concerning JPMorgan: Is it time to separate the chairman and chief executive roles, both currently held by Jamie Dimon?
In a recent Wall Street Journal editorial, David Reilly made the case that separating the chairman and CEO roles would pay positive dividends for JPMorgan. In his argument, Reilly says that Dimon’s legacy has been tainted by the numerous settlements the company has been forced to make under his watch, and sharing the load would help provide more executive leadership that he believes the company lacks.
“Forcing him to relinquish the chairman's role wouldn't instantly solve such problems,” Reilly writes. “But it would show the bank is serious about more rigorous checks on management and that accountability starts at the top.”
Brandon Rees, acting director of the AFL-CIO's Office of Investment, also supports a split, saying that JPMorgan’s pattern of loose controls and failed oversight “speaks to the justification for separating the positions of chair and chief executive.”
While JPMorgan’s exploits may be among the most noteworthy, separation of the chairman and CEO roles has become a hot topic for big business. At a December 2013 discussion, Patrick McGurn, special counsel to ISS, said that separating the roles allows him to better perform his job functions.
“Our policy is to make sure there is a counterbalance,” McGurn said.
And especially as the U.S. government prepares to enact stricter legislation on Wall Street, in-house counsel could be left searching for any type of accountability they could get. That’s why Dimon, despite JPMorgan doubling its 2014 risk and compliance budget, may receive more sideways glances moving forward.
For more on JPMorgan’s legal woes, check out these recent InsideCounsel stories: