A year ago, Jamie Dimon received a virtual hero's welcome at JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s shareholder meeting, winning praise for deftly steering the company through the financial crisis.
Dimon faced a markedly chillier reception Tuesday, however, surviving a shareholder proposal to strip him of his chairmanship while hundreds of distraught homeowners chanted "foreclose Chase" outside the New York banking giant's yearly gathering.
Populist anger and discussion of potentially painful regulatory reforms cast a pall over the nearly three-hour event.
It was disrupted early on as one heckler — a housing activist named Bruce Marks — was escorted from the building saying, "I'm a shareholder," after complaining that the lender isn't doing enough to help modify underwater mortgages.
The scene was in stark contrast to JPMorgan Chase's somewhat light-hearted meeting the year before, when some of the most pressing concerns Dimon addressed were from retired employees upset about losing access to the company cafeteria.
Tuesday's meeting wasn't so buoyant. Security guards in dark suits prowled the back of the jam-packed, 400-capacity room, and two uniformed police officers stood outside the doors as shareholders like Kathleen Wilverding implored the company's top executives for help in modifying their home loans.
"I'm not asking for a handout," Wilverding said. "I don't want to lose my home."
Dimon, who stood behind a lectern in a dark blue suit and tie for the entire session, told Wilverding and a handful of others in attendance who are struggling under unwieldy mortgage payments that the company had people on hand to address their concerns.
"When it comes to homeowners. We have to do it one by one. Do they live there? Can they afford to pay it? Is it the right thing to do?" Dimon said. "We have experts here. They will go through your situation — what can and can't be done — directly, openly and honestly."
Wilverding and about 11 other struggling homeowners attended the meeting, led by Marks, the chief executive of Neighborhood Assistance Corp. of America.
Dimon addressed a slew of other shareholder concerns during the meeting, which drew more people than expected, forcing some shareholders to watch the proceedings on television in another room.
He held on to both his chairman and chief executive titles after shareholders rejected a proposal backed by the California Public Employees' Retirement System to split the roles. The proposal was supported by 33.9% of shareholders.
Dimon reiterated previous statements that the company would like to raise its quarterly dividend — which it cut to a nickel per share in the midst of the recession — to 30% to 40% of earnings as soon as it is evident that the economic recovery has taken hold.
He also addressed the toxic political environment for banks.
Dimon — who said that JPMorgan Chase had spent nearly $1 billion on legal fees and $7 million on lobbying last year — alluded to reports that his vocal opposition to some of the most stringent reforms proposed for the banking industry was not making him any fans in Washington.
Evelyn Davis, the activist shareholder, asked Dimon if he was still "President Obama's favorite banker," a title that has followed him around since a profile in The New York Times last summer described him as perhaps the most credible banker in the country. Last week, reports suggested that Bank of America Corp. CEO Brian Moynihan may have assumed that role.
"I heard he has a new one," Dimon said. "I don't know who his favorite banker is."
A shareholder named Ida Gordon asked Dimon how the company could be affected by regulations stemming from what she described as the "demonization" and "vulgarization" of banks.
Dimon — who said he supports common-sense reforms — said new regulations of the fees banks generate from credit cards, debit cards and derivatives could take sizable toll on the company's profits. Its credit card business could lose $700 million and the retail bank, $300 million, he said.
"We don't really know yet what the derivative … rules will do," Dimon said. "Those are the ones we know about. I don't think that's small. All put together, these will add up to well over a billion and a half, two billion dollars."
Though protestors created the biggest stir at the meeting, some shareholders stood by Dimon.
Victor Salomone said he supported Dimon's drawing a large paycheck as long as the company is performing. He also had little sympathy for shareholders using the meeting to air "their personal problems."
Another shareholder, whose name was inaudible, said he felt "good and comfortable" to have Dimon at the helm.
"I like that feeling," he said.
In his opening comments, Dimon said JPMorgan Chase has been doing its part to mend the economy.
"I want to assure you, as a firm, that we have tried to do everything in our power to help…every day of this crisis," Dimon said.