Home Featured Story Jamie Dimon— A Storied Career in the Financial Services Industry

Jamie Dimon— A Storied Career in the Financial Services Industry


Spanning 33 years James Dimon’s career has included positions at: Goldman Sachs (intern); Management Analysis Center (consultant); American Express Company (vice president and assistant to the president); Commercial Credit Group (president and CFO); Primerica Corporation (president and CFO); Smith Barney (COO); Salomon Smith Barney Holdings (president); Bank One (chairman and CEO). Today he serves as president and COO of J. P. Morgan Chase & Company.

In 1978 Dimon graduated cum laude from Tufts University, and then enrolled in Harvard Business School.

While a student at Harvard, Dimon interned at Goldman Sachs and was offered a job after graduation in 1982. He declined, instead going to work for the mentor who would profoundly shape his career: Sandy Weill.

From 1982 to 1985 Weill and Dimon teamed up at American Express, where Dimon signed on as vice president and assistant to the president. Dimon's abilities to crunch numbers meshed well with Weill's people skills. When Weill was forced out of American Express, he made Dimon his second in command at the little-known consumer-lending outfit that he bought called Commercial Credit Company — which would eventually become Citigroup.

Through the course of Dimon's time at the firm, Commercial Credit was completely restructured and made numerous acquisitions and divestitures, including the 1987 acquisition of Primerica Corporation, which included Smith Barney. Commercial Credit then assumed the Primerica name. In 1983 Primerica had acquired the Travelers Corporation (of which Smith Barney was a part), which had then been renamed Travelers Group. Between 1987 and 1994 the Travelers unit of Primerica touted compound annual growth of 21 percent in per-share earnings.

Dimon was named chairman and CEO of Travelers ‘s Smith Barney subsidiary in January 1996, and transformed Smith Barney from a small brokerage into a major Wall Street player. He was put in charge of integrating Smith Barney with Shearson, the brokerage business that Smith Barney purchased in 1993.

In 1996 he became the chairman and CEO of Travelers' Smith Barney. At 40, he was the youngest CEO of a major securities firm.

A bullish market — along with Dimon's unrelenting focus on keeping costs down—continued to fuel Smith Barney's strong performance.

In November 1997, with the merger of Smith Barney and Salomon Brothers, Dimon became co-chairman and co-CEO of the combined firm. In 1998 Weill and Dimon engineered a $73 billion deal: Travelers Group, the brokerage and investment-banking and insurance giant they had created from humble beginnings purchased the retail market leader Citicorp to form Citigroup. Their aim was nothing less than to transform the financial-services landscape by creating the first comprehensive financial-services giant with dealings in both the consumer and corporate banking markets.

The tension between Dimon and Weill reached a boiling point when Dimon refused to appoint Weill's daughter as chief of asset management at Travelers, and turn over Salomon's bond business to Weill's son, Marc. A $1.3 billion trading loss in Dimon's Salomon division further exacerbated the situation. On November 1, 1998, Weill asked him to resign.

On March 27, 2000, after an 18-month break from the financial-services industry, Dimon became the chairman and CEO of Bank One, the fifth-largest bank in the country.

After taking the reins at Bank One, he immediately implemented a complex risk-management system that left the company with a more diversified investment portfolio. In his first year at Bank One, Dimon strengthened the management team and fortified the corporation's balance sheet, saving more than $1 billion through waste-reduction efforts.  

In January 2004 Dimon negotiated a deal to merge Bank One and J. P. Morgan Chase & Company of New York — to truly compete globally, and to keep up with Citigroup, the world's largest financial-services firm in 2003.

As J. P. Morgan Chase & Company’s Chairman, President & CEO, Dimon oversaw the transfer of $25 billion from the US Treasury Department to J. P. Morgan Chase & Company on October 28, 2008 via the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). This was the fifth largest amount transferred under Section A of TARP to help troubled assets related to residential mortgages.

Of the US's nine largest banks, JPMorgan Chase was arguably the second healthiest bank, and did not need to take TARP funds. In order to encourage smaller banks with troubled assets to accept this money, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson allegedly coerced the CEOs of the nine largest banks to accept TARP money under short notice. JPMorgan Chase was also the first of the largest banks to repay the TARP money.

 By Phil Robertson, Editor