Given the bank’s shrinking profile — JPMorgan Chase has falling from first to eighth in the rankings of the world’s largest banks — some JPM stock holders are wondering if they should make it a cool 10,001 layoffs by tossing out CEO Jamie Dimon.
Jamie Dimon earned $20 million in his role as CEO last year, making him the second-highest-paid bank CEO after Goldman Sachs’ (GS) Lloyd Blankfein. Yet he presided over a year in which earnings per share shrunk to a three-year low … not to mention that a $20 million payout at a time when thousands of rank-and-file employees are losing their jobs does tend to raise a few eyebrows.
With JPMorgan Chase, we essentially have three overlapping questions:
- What is the bank’s business plan going forward?
- Is Jamie Dimon earning his keep?
- Is a slimmed-down JPM stock worth buying?
What’s the Plan?
Unfortunately, much of the bank’s business plan is out of Dimon’s and JPMorgan’s hands. The regulatory regime put in place after the 2008-09 meltdown has massively narrowed the scope of all of the “too big to fail” banks. The “Volcker rule” of the Dodd-Frank overhaul essentially killed JPMorgan’s proprietary trading desk years ago. Under the Volcker rule, banks cannot trade with their own capital.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Remember the London Whale incident? Poor risk management allowed one of JPM’s biggest traders to amass multiple billions of dollars in losses back in 2012 shorting credit default swaps. Ostensibly, the London Whale was “hedging.” Of course he was (wink wink).
Trading on behalf of others isn’t as lucrative as it used to be, either. Trading revenues are expected to be down about 20% this quarter after falling 17% in the first quarter.
Last year, JPMorgan made a surprise decision to exit its physical commodities business — after spending years building the world’s biggest commodities desk. Increased regulatory scrutiny was the driving factor.
So where does this leave JPMorgan Chase and JPM stock?
Consumer and community banking — which includes mortgages and small business loans — and corporate and investment banking back up the overwhelming majority of JPM’s revenues and profits. An improving economy should mean higher loan production and higher investment banking revenues through stock and bond issuance.
JPM’s ability to grow will be curtailed by higher capital requirements and by continued aversion — by both regulators and shareholders — to leverage and risk taking in general.
Essentially, JPM has been reduced to a lumbering giant that, while still profitable, will be limited to slow growth for the foreseeable future.
Is Jamie Dimon Earning His Keep?
Jamie Dimon is well-respected among banking CEOs. But in fairness, look at his competition.