Jamie Dimon’s cancer news spotlights JPMorgan’s management bench

Buck up Jamie, it was just one quarter.
Buck up Jamie, it was just one quarter.
Image: Reuters/Lucas Jackson
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The news that JPMorgan Chase boss Jamie Dimon has been diagnosed with cancer of the throat has thrown a spotlight on the management bench at the largest bank in the US by assets. According to the internal memo that announced the news, the cancer was caught early and is curable. Here’s what Dimon, 58, said:

I wanted to let you know that I have just been diagnosed with throat cancer. The good news is that the prognosis from my doctors is excellent, the cancer was caught quickly, and my condition is curable. Following thorough tests that included a CAT scan, PET scan and a biopsy, the cancer is confined to the original site and the adjacent lymph nodes on the right side of my neck. Importantly, there is no evidence of cancer elsewhere in my body.

Dimon is perhaps best known for helping JPMorgan nimbly navigate the 2008 financial crisis. And despite some major flubs in recent years, including the “London Whale” trading scandal that saw the firm lose more than $6 billion, Dimon—and his sometimes brash style—has come to define the sprawling financial institution.


Dimon is expected to work through cancer treatments starting soon at Memorial Sloan Kettering’s cancer treatment center in New York. JPMorgan is slated to report second-quarter earnings on July 15 and Dimon is expected to be on the conference call as usual (although obviously his plans could change). And while Dimon is expected to stay active during his treatments over the next several weeks, he has cancelled some scheduled engagements, including a trip to Europe. He also may extend his usual three-week August vacation, a person familiar with the matter said.

But should Dimon’s health prompt him to take a less active role with the bank, there are several executives prepared to step in.

  • Gordon Smith, 56, head of consumer and community banking. Smith was brought on back in 2007 from American Express, where he spent 25 years. He’s run the bank’s credit cards and auto lending platforms and now runs all of the company’s consumer lending operations. He’s considered a safe pair of hands to run the firm for a short period.
  • Mary Callahan Erdoes, 46, chief executive officer of the asset management. Erdoes runs the the bank’s money management operation, which manages more than $1.8 trillion in assets and has been growing under her guidance. She’s perhaps the highest-profile official among the crop of top executives. She ranks among the world’s most powerful woman, according to Forbes.
  • Marianne Lake, 44, chief financial officer and rising star at the firm. Lake had been CFO of the bank’s consumer business before she was appointed as CFO of the entire firm in 2012. She’s earned a reputation for taking no guff from anyone (including Dimon) and is respected in among research analysts. She was born in Maryland but her English accent is a function of a growing up in the UK.
  • Matt Zames, 43, chief operating officer and head of capital markets. Zames star began to ascend after he was tasked with handling the fall-out from the 2012 “London Whale” scandal. With a few recent departures including that of Michael Cavanagh, former co-head of JPMorgan’s investment banking unit, Zames is being viewed as one of the frontrunners to succeed Dimon as chief executive over the next several years.
  • Doug Petno, 48, chief executive of commercial banking. Petno is a 25-year JPMorgan veteran, who has held a number of banking roles within the firm, which is why he would be considered a capable candidate for taking the reins from Dimon. He’s probably more of a dark horse given the  higher profile others like Lake and Zames have garnered.