CHICAGO - James Dimon won a warm reception on Tuesday in his first meeting with shareholders since taking the reins as chief executive officer of Bank One Corp. but then was peppered with questions and complaints focused more on customer service than stock price.
After being on the job for seven weeks, Mr. Dimon maintained his early approach of shying from specifics and stressed to the group that changes won't come overnight because so much is under review.
Though only a few investors broached the subject of stock price, some sought assurances that the company will not be sold and that he will not be leaving soon. "If the board told me to come in here and clean things up in order to sell, I wouldn't have taken the job," Mr. Dimon said.
He gave a more nuanced response when asked about the fate of some of Bank One's component businesses, rejecting the notion of a sale of First USA, its ailing credit card business, but expressing a willingness to consider "all options" for WingspanBank.com.
Shareholders at the packed meeting were more concerned about what they called the company's increasingly weak service, repeatedly exhorting Mr. Dimon to move quickly on this issue. Mr. Dimon singled out customer service as needing improvement and also spoke broadly about a need to consolidate systems, root out bureaucracy at all levels, and create "a leaner and meaner" Bank One.
Mr. Dimon said he is evaluating situations in which there might be "12 people who are doing the job that 10 could accomplish." When asked whether that means job cuts are on the way, he said, "I don't know the answer to that."
He suggested that some internal shifting of jobs might be possible, rather than cuts.
"Maybe we should have more people on the front line" than in higher staff positions," Mr. Dimon said. "We'll spend a lot of time going through all that, and you've got to give me some time."
As for Bank One's battered stock, which has lost half of its value in the last year, Mr. Dimon said he will not make projections.
After the meeting he spoke with reporters about some of Bank One's units.
He said that beneath all the turmoil at First USA lies a "healthy business we need to extract." Though he said it would take "pain and suffering to get it where it needs to be," Mr. Dimon said the unit should not be sold because it "carries a lot of value."
He said he is still weighing what to do about WingspanBank.
In previous remarks Mr. Dimon had said he was considering "all options" for the Web venture, including sale, merger, or joint venture.
"We're meeting on that all the time," Mr. Dimon said of Wingspan on Tuesday. "I think they've done some great stuff and they've done some stuff which obviously cost a lot of money and that didn't work. But I'm not going to throw the baby out with the bath water. I want to make sure we make the right decision."
Details of Mr. Dimon's plans for Bank One will not emerge for several weeks.
"I'd like to be able to answer a lot more of the questions by the end of the second and into the third quarter," he said after the meeting. "We're moving with all due haste, and when we have something specific to say we're going to say it."
Mr. Dimon's compensation package was revealed Monday in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.
He will make $1 million a year over the next five years, be paid a $2.5 million bonus this year, and have hefty stock options over the life of his employment agreement.