In his latest defense of JPMorgan Chase's size and scope, Chief Executive Jamie Dimon said Tuesday that small banks depend on megabanks for a slew of financial services.
The comments come amid renewed calls to break up the nation's largest banks. They also provide the latest twist in an ongoing clash between the industry's biggest and smallest players.
Asked to justify his company's $2.4 trillion-asset size, Dimon sent a clear message to his smaller peers: You depend on us, he said.
JPMorgan is the "largest bank to some of the smaller banks," Dimon said, describing a need in the industry for a "big, strong American bank."
Dimon rattled off a long list of services that JPMorgan provides to community and regional banks, including M&A, foreign exchange and access to secondary mortgage markets.
"A lot of times we do things that other banks won't do," he said.
Dimon made the comments during an investor presentation at the company's New York headquarters.
His latest defense of megabanking comes just days after Neel Kashkari, the new president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, called for splitting up big banks and turning them into public utilities.
"I believe the biggest banks are still 'too big to fail' and continue to pose a significant, ongoing risk to our economy," Kashkari said in a Feb. 16 speech in Washington.
Kashkari's call for reform echoed the rhetoric of several key Democratic policymakers, including presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who has made reforming Wall Street a central tenant of his campaign.
During Dimon's speech, he told a story about how he recently called up a regional bank executive who had publicly aired his grievances against JPMorgan and other big banks.
The regional bank CEO — whom Dimon did not name, but said he respects — had criticized big banks as risky. So Dimon pointed out all of the JPMorgan services that the regional bank relies on to turn a profit.
In the past year, Dimon has made a point of criticizing his smaller peers. In a letter to shareholders last spring, he said that "many large banks had no problem navigating the financial crisis, while many smaller banks went bankrupt."
Still, as the $2.4 trillion-asset company faces renewed scrutiny, Dimon said the company has not always done the best job making the case to the public.
Discussing the benefits that JPMorgan provides to the economy as a whole, he said: "It's just harder to explain to your mother-in-law."