Jamie Dimon, the CEO of Bank One Corp., has his problems and makes his mistakes. Perhaps his strongest point, though, and one that is becoming increasingly rare, is integrity. This is clear in just about everything he does.
The latest example was an incentive program the bank set up in which employees were to be rewarded for bringing in more loans and deposits. But the bank miscalculated the profits that the program would generate, and as a result, significantly reduced the amount of the promised incentives.
Sean Ryan, an analyst for the Fulcrum Group, called the event "a management failure," and noted that Michael Welborn, head of retail banking, conceded that it was. But mistakes do happen, and Welborn stepped up to the plate and took full responsibility. According to a memo to the bank's staff, which was first published by Bloomberg News, Welborn said: "The mistake in proper modeling and incentive design is entirely the fault of me and my senior team."
Ryan's retort was, "Yet the cost is being borne by the front-line sales force, the very people on whom the long-run success of Bank One depends."
Our reaction is different. Yes, the sales force got an unpleasant surprise, but it also knows the bank admitted its mistake, and the long-term response may turn out more positive than negative. To us, the incident is another example of the culture of integrity that Dimon has established.