JPMorgan Chase Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon said cancer hasn't altered his plans to keep working even as he looks toward a retirement that he hopes will include philanthropy and teaching.
"It's terrifying to hear" you have the disease, Dimon said yesterday at an event sponsored by the Urban Land Institute in New York, where JPMorgan is based. "You feel worse and worse and worse, both emotionally and physically."
Dimon, 58, who has led JPMorgan since 2006, is resuming public appearances after completing a round of treatment for throat cancer. He opined yesterday on topics including the global economy, saying Europe is "the sick one," while the U.S. has recovered fully from the 2008 credit crisis and that China will meet financial targets. He also gave his most candid remarks about his health and what life after JPMorgan will look like.
"It hasn't changed what I want to do with my life, yet," said Dimon, who noted that his prognosis is good. "Could it? It could. I still love what I do and I still have to do something, I still want to make it a better world."
Europe is beset by stagnant growth, Dimon said, echoing comments from hedge fund managers who have soured on the region. Billionaire hedge-fund manager David Tepper said at a separate conference yesterday that investors should bet against the euro, according to people familiar with his remarks. Tepper, who runs the $20 billion Appaloosa Management LP, has said European Central Bank President Mario Draghi hasn't done enough to revive growth.
Dimon, in a talk titled "Reflections on Resilient Leadership," looked back on his career and deputies who have come and gone. Personnel decisions, he said, are usually the toughest. Potential successors have joined other firms, including former co-Chief Operating Officer Frank Bisignano, who left in April 2013 to run First Data Corp., and Mike Cavanagh, who stepped down earlier this year to become co-COO of Carlyle Group LP.
"I've always had the attitude if I've asked someone to leave, and they've been at the company for 20 years, I offer them a party," said Dimon, whose bank is the largest in the U.S. by assets. "I never treat them rudely, even when there are quotes in the press that are complete lies. Let them go on with their lives."
The public has a misperception of Wall Street leaders as being one-dimensionally tough and greedy, Dimon said. He has often been indecisive and afraid he was making a mistake, especially when it came to mergers, he said.
"We're more like lovers" than fighters, Dimon said. "We want to compromise and get things done and make clients happy."
His retirement will include philanthropy, teaching and "a little bit of business," he said. Dimon has told colleagues that he would like to remain CEO and chairman of JPMorgan for another five years, a person with knowledge of his comment said earlier this year.
When he finally does walk away, Dimon said, he has one wish: "That people say, you know, we're going to miss the son of a bitch."