JPMorgan Chase said Thursday that Matt Zames is stepping down as chief operating officer, a move that narrows the list of potential successors for CEO Jamie Dimon.

Dimon announced the move in a company memo. No replacement was named; instead, the business units that reported to Zames — JPMorgan’s chief investment office, as well as global technology, operations and strategy — have been reassigned to other executives.

Matt Zames, president Cerberus Capital Management.
Hailed by the chief
Matt Zames "was an integral part of the team that helped manage the firm successfully through the financial crisis" and he also "led the transformation of our Chief Investment Office/Treasury area," JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon said in a memo to employees announcing Zames' departure. Bloomberg News

Zames, a 13-year veteran of the company, will stay in his current role over the coming weeks to ensure a smooth transition, according to the memo. No information was provided about his next steps.

“Matt has worked tirelessly across many disciplines to help make us a better company,” Dimon said. “We are extremely grateful for his efforts and appreciate his enormous contributions.”

The resignation of Zames — and the apparent elimination of the COO role — could rekindle speculation heats about who will ultimately replace Dimon, 61, as the head of the company. Zames, 46, had been viewed as a potential successor.

Other candidates have included Mary Callahan Erdoes, CEO of the company’s asset management division; Marianne Lake, the chief financial officer; Daniel Pinto, CEO of the corporate and investment bank; and Gordon Smith, CEO of the consumer and community bank.

Zames was named the sole COO at the company in 2013, following the resignation of Frank Bisignano, who became CEO of First Data. Bisignano and Zames previously shared the COO title. Before that, Zames held senior-level roles in trading and investment banking.

Zames was a key part of the leadership team that led the company through the aftermath of the financial crisis, according to the memo. He led an overhaul of the company’s chief investment office after the London Whale trading scandal in 2012 that cost the company $6.2 billion. He also took a leading role in setting strategy for the company’s investment in technology and cybersecurity.

“Matt has accomplished all of this with integrity and wisdom, and we thank him for his leadership and dedicated service,” Dimon said. “While I am sad to see him leave, I respect his decision and all he has done for JPMorgan Chase.”

Following Zames’ departure, JPMorgan’s investment, treasury and regulatory affairs divisions will report to Lake. Global technology will report directly to Pinto and Smith. Operations — which includes real estate, security, investigations and military affairs — will report to Erdoes and Doug Petno, CEO of the commercial bank.

Corporate strategy and private investments will report to Dimon, according to the memo.

“Matt will be here over the coming weeks to help ensure a smooth transition of his responsibilities,” Dimon said. “In the meantime, please join me in wishing him the best in the future and supporting our other leaders as they take on expanded responsibilities.”

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Kristin Broughton

Kristin Broughton

Kristin Broughton is a reporter for American Banker, where she writes about the business of national and regional banking.