JPMorgan's executive shuffle: Is a woman CEO out of the picture?

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JPMorgan Chase just clarified several questions about its succession strategy but raised another: Do any women still have a shot at running the largest U.S. bank when the current leader, Jamie Dimon, retires?

The short answer is it looks less likely, but it is not out of the question.

The company on Monday narrowed the field of candidates to someday replace CEO Jamie Dimon, announcing the promotions of two executives to be co-presidents and chief operating officers of the company.

Daniel Pinto, head of the corporate and investment bank, and Gordon Smith, head of the consumer and community bank, will take on the new roles starting Tuesday, the company said in a news release.

In the release, Dimon, 61, said that he plans to lead the company for an additional five years. In their new roles, Pinto and Smith will assist Dimon in setting company priorities.

“While the board of directors and I have agreed that I will continue in my current role for approximately five more years, the promotions we announced today reflect the enormous contributions that Gordon and Daniel have made to the continuing success of our company,” Dimon said in the release.

Pinto, 55, has led the investment bank for the past five years, and joined JPMorgan 35 years ago. Smith, 59, joined the company in 2007 from American Express, where he oversaw the card company's domestic businesses.

The announcement comes as speculation has grown about who will replace JPMorgan’s longtime, outspoken leader. It also comes just months after the resignation of Matt Zames, the company’s former COO.

At that time, Zames’ responsibilities were divvied up between the members of the JPMorgan operating committee, with investment, treasury and regulatory affairs reporting to Chief Financial Officer Marianne Lake; global technology reporting to Pinto and Smith; and a slew of other divisions — including real estate, security and investigations — reporting to Asset Management CEO Mary Erdoes.

The surprise announcement Monday in many ways crystallizes the widely held view that Smith and Pinto were front-runners to succeed Dimon, said Jeff Harte, an analyst with Sandler O’Neill.

“When you’re looking at potential succession plans, those would certainly have been the two guys at the top of the list,” Harte said, noting that they currently run JPMorgan’s biggest business lines.

During the fourth quarter, for instance, the consumer and community bank accounted for 47% of the company’s net revenue. The investment banking division, meanwhile, accounted for a 29% share.

The promotions also appeared to raise the possibility that JPMorgan may not be the nation’s first megabank to appoint a woman CEO as some had speculated it might. Erdoes, 50, who runs the company’s asset management unit, has been viewed as a possible successor. So has Lake, 48, who serves as the company’s public face during quarterly earnings calls and investor conferences.

“She’s an accomplished manager, as well,” Harte said, commenting on Erdoes' track record at the company.

The release went out of its way to compliment the work of Erdoes, Lake and Doug Petno, 52, the head of the commercial bank. "Under all timing scenarios, whether today or in the future, the company has several highly capable successors in place," the release said.

Those comments perhaps leave JPMorgan some flexibility to draw a future CEO from a wider field.

Responsibilities for the rest of the operating committee will remain unchanged, following the promotions of Pinto and Smith, with all member continuing to report to Dimon, according to the release.

The announcement that Dimon will lead company for several more years should also put to bed speculation that the outspoken CEO is planning to run for political office, KBW analyst Brian Kleinhanzl said in a note to clients.

Dimon has seen his political profile rise over the past year, after being named as chairman of the Business Roundtable, an influential corporate lobbying group. He was also a member of the White House CEO advisory council that disbanded following controversial remarks by President Trump about a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va.

Dimon’s name was briefly floated as a potential candidate for Treasury secretary, after the surprise Republican sweep in the 2016 presidential election.

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