Jamie Dimon might have agreed to pay the U.S. government a massive, record-setting $13 billion to clear up its problems with JPMorgan Chase's (JPM) mortgage business, but he's still fighting a rear-guard action to limit that settlement's impact on his bank's reputation.
"We made the choice that we thought was better for shareholders. We paid the price and we moved on," Dimon, JPMorgan Chase's chairman and chief executive, said during a presentation at an investor conference Wednesday.
Dimon, who has been at the center of the swirling regulatory and reputational scrutiny of many of his bank's practices, continued to argue that agreeing to the settlement at a price that amounted to almost half of the bank's annual profit in 2012 was a business decision rather than an admission of guilt. (The bank did not admit to wrongdoing as part of the settlement's terms.)
"The choices were, settle now, pay X, or you can fight I got calls from shareholders, saying 'fight,' but think of the fighting part," Dimon told attendees of a financial services conference hosted by Goldman Sachs (GS). "You'll be in court for two, three, four, five years, your people will be interviewed [and] your company will be demeaned in the press nonstop. It's really, really painful."
Dimon, who was once considered to be Washington's favorite banker, on Wednesday also acknowledged that he has work remaining to repair JPMorgan Chase's relationship with the government.
"It obviously got worse," he said, adding that the bank had "lost track of" its good relations with regulators over the last several years: "We're trying to get it back."
The head of the country's largest bank also weighed in on the final Volcker rule, which was unveiled Tuesday. The much-delayed and much-criticized provision of the Dodd-Frank law restricts big banks' ability to trade on their own behalf. The Volcker rule became even more of an industry flash point after JPMorgan Chase lost $6 billion on credit hedges in 2012.
"I'm glad that we now have certainty," Dimon said on Wednesday. "I think we'll be able to manage with Volcker."