Jamie Dimon claims he has no intention of kicking his rivals while they're down.
The head of JPMorgan Chase & Co. said he won't use pay restrictions at bailed-out lenders as an excuse to poach talent from Citigroup Inc. and Bank of America Corp.
"It would be wrong to say, 'let's go hire their best people' — that would be a terrible thing to do," the chairman and chief executive of the $2 trillion-asset company said during a conference in New York on Tuesday. "We're not going to do that."
Citigroup and Bank of America are among seven U.S. companies that got federal aid and now face pay caps on top executives.
Dimon said he has an issue "morally" with actively recruiting from those companies because their return to health is in the country's best interest. However, he said he is "not against" capping pay at institutions that got "special assistance."
"Blame the people who did something wrong, which I think is fine," Dimon said.
But he said regulators need to strike a "balance" between punishing bad decisions and protecting a company's growth prospects.
"All of us need Citigroup and Bank of America to be vibrant, healthy" companies, Dimon said. "I'd be very careful not to hamstring companies as they grow. They might want to hire some people in this room."
Speaking at a Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association conference, Dimon said the financial meltdown was caused by a range of problems, including excessive use of leverage throughout the financial industry, a long-running trade deficit and lack of proper oversight in the mortgage industry.
Dimon reiterated past calls for a systemic risk regulator as well as for a new mechanism to handle the insolvency of "too-big-to-fail" companies.
Large companies should be allowed to fail, he said, and regulators should have the authority and infrastructure to handle the collapse of a company of JPMorgan Chase's size.
He warned against dismantling large, sprawling financial institutions. JPMorgan, with more than $2 trillion in assets and 200,000 employees is large for a reason, he said. It does business all over the world, and its clients expect it to have a presence in dozens of countries. Its global rivals are also massive.
"A lot of our size is related to the size of our clients," Dimon said. "You can't do an $8 billion loan to a corporation if you are a small bank."