Ladies and gentlemen, place your bets. Who will replace the chief of JPMorgan Chase & Co.?

In his annual letter to shareholders, Chief Executive Jamie Dimon says his No. 1 priority this year is to find his successor.

"Poor CEO succession has destroyed many a company. CEO and management succession often seems more like a psychological drama or a Shakespearean tragedy than the reasoned and mature process it should be. It is in our best interest to avoid such drama," Dimon writes.

Dimon had made it known last fall when he appointed Jess Staley as the head of the investment bank that he was focused on grooming a successor — or at least someone who could take over his job in an emergency. "The 'hit by a truck' emergency scenario" — is how Dimon describes it in his 36-page letter released Wednesday night.

But Dimon, who is only 54, is also signaling that he's now focused on succession plans for the medium to long term.

"We have redoubled our efforts to ensure that we have people in the pipeline who are capable of assuming senior levels of responsibility three, five or even seven years out," says Dimon, who then goes on to spend a great deal of space laying out what he believes are necessary leadership qualities.

Those qualities include humility, openness, fortitude and hustle; Dimon quotes Abraham Lincoln on the last quality. "Things may come to those who wait ... but only the things left by those who hustle."

Dimon adds that the bank's board of directors also believes that a succession plan is a high priority and is "on the case." He points out that the board members "personally know all of the Operating Committee members of the company."

Hence, the first clue on the succession battle. Here's a list of operating committee members and titles or business units they run:

  • Frank Bisignano – Chief Accounting Officer

  • Steve Black – Vice Chairman

  • Mike Cavanagh – CFO

  • Steve Cutler – General Counsel

  • Bill Daley – Corporate Responsibility

  • John Donnelly – Human Resources

  • Ina Drew – Chief Investment Officer

  • Mary Erdoes – Asset Management

  • Todd Maclin – Commercial Bank

  • Jay Mandelbaum – Strategy

  • Heidi Miller – Treasury & Securities Services

  • Charlie Scharf – Retail Financial Services

  • Jes Staley – Investment Bank

  • Gordon Smith – Card Services

  • Barry Zubrow – Chief Risk Officer

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