There’s no question JPMorgan Chase is still foundering in a vat of goo. And, as discussed Friday, this is so despite a series of smart crisis management moves by the company, embodied by the actions, demeanor and blunt talk of CEO Jamie Dimon.
To review, he got in front of the regulatory and investor steamroller heading his way by announcing the bad news of $2 billion in trading losses, accepting responsibility and implying he’d clean house — though there are certainly critics out there who feel the house cleaning should start in the CEO’s office.
News comes today that Ina Drew, chief investment officer, and two traders involved in the mess will resign. Drew is directly responsible; it’s also unfortunate because she’s one of the few women to reach such high executive levels on Wall Street, serving the bank for 30 years.
We won’t get all weepy about someone paid $14 million last year, but Wall Street remains an area and industry awash in testosterone — some would argue Dimon seems a little over-pumped at times — and it’s a shame she takes the fall. But she manages a $400 billion portfolio and losses that stark in only six weeks demand human sacrifice.
The wrinkle in all this is the timing. JPMorgan’s annual meeting is Tuesday and shareholders are likely heating tar and plucking feathers in advance of the event.
It’s not yet clear where this crisis will end, or whether Dimon will save his job by sacrificing those of people who reported to him. Whether he should or should not is up to others. But so far, he and his advisors managed this crisis about as well as possible.
He had recorded a complimentary interview for Meet the Press before this announced loss. He went back on the show Sunday to address the most recent news, though people criticized his not knowing or not talking about it in the original interview. It’s another effort at transparence and taking responsibility that remains rare in CEOland.
In the end, the goal of crisis management is to save the institution, even if responsible executives and leaders fall by the wayside. It also demonstrates clearly that the best crisis management, even following all the rules and hitting all your marks, may not save you.