Lessons on Succession Planning With the CEO of JP Morgan

In May of 2024, Jamie Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan, said that it’s highly likely he won’t be in the same position in five years. At this point in Dimon’s career (and with a contract extension until 2026), media outlets are used to hearing him say that he’ll be CEO for at least five more years. The fact that his sentiment has shifted definitely signals that he’s eyeing retirement.

Undoubtedly, Jamie Dimon’s retirement plans are a big deal. He’s enjoyed scandal-free success at the top of the company, with shares up nearly 90%. His staff often comment on how much he loves the job, how excited he is to work every day, and how impeccable his risk management skills are.

Who will succeed such a CEO? This remains to be seen. However, the board, the employees, and the public seem confident that whoever it is will be the product of an airtight succession planning process that will ensure the company’s continued success for many years to come.

What’s Happening With the JP Morgan CEO

As one of the world’s foremost financial institutions, JP Morgan surely understands the importance of succession planning. Jamie Dimon has taken the company to new heights, and there’s no doubt that the board and shareholders want to see this upward trajectory continue. 

In prominent news outlets, the company has confirmed that it is indeed preparing for a smooth transition in the medium term. The board has also stated that it is currently developing operating committee members for the position, indicating that these are people the shareholders already know and trust. Dimon himself shared that his successor will be an internal hire.

Right now, there is much speculation about who the successor could be. A combination of news outlets and board member interviews have revealed a few possibilities:

  • Marianne Lake, CEO of Community & Consumer Banking
  • Jennifer Piepszak, Co-CEO of the Commercial & Investment Bank
  • Troy Rohrbaugh, Co-CEO of the Commercial & Investment Bank
  • Mary Callahan Erdoes, CEO of Asset & Wealth Management

The board has also mentioned company president and COO Daniel Pinto as someone who could step up to the plate at any time. Some deem Marianne Lake to be an early front-runner due to her experience in risk management as the company’s former CFO.

Because Dimon truly loves the work he does, he has been putting off retirement for some time. However, inspired by others who have retired well, Jamie finally seems ready to make it happen. 

He has recently shown admiration for how James Gorman, former CEO of Morgan Stanley, conducted his succession planning. Rather than have his top two internal picks lobby for the job, he let their results over the next few years do the convincing. Though JP Morgan has not revealed the entirety of its succession planning process, it will likely produce solid results at the same level.

Understanding the Keys to Effective Succession Planning

Whoever gets the job will undoubtedly find it challenging to fill Jamie Dimon’s shoes. The current CEO of one of the largest and most prominent banks in the world has an impeccable track record that will be hard to beat. 

Even in succession planning, Dimon and the board have gotten several aspects right. They’ve started early, ensured senior management is involved and “owns” the process, and assessed and developed possible successors. In recent years, there have been many high-profile position changes, reportedly to give certain frontrunners more broad management experience.

Still, there are a few other steps (which the team at JP Morgan has likely already taken) that CEOs and board members need for a successful transition. Here are some additional items executives may want to consider adding to the list.

Set Future Goals

Before choosing a successor, the board must understand what the goals are for the coming years. It will be difficult to select the right person for the job when there is no real description of what the job is or what success looks like for the person in it.

List Core Competencies

Once the board has a solid understanding of the company’s goals and direction, it can create a list of core competencies the next CEO will need to achieve those goals. This will be key when it comes to observing potential candidates and narrowing them down to a short list.

Consider a Trial Run

It’s not likely that anyone would let a potential successor who is still developing their skills act as CEO for an extended period of time. However, it is plausible to have potential candidates take over a few light duties while the top executive is on vacation. This way, the board gets to see their skills in action and observe how the candidate responds to issues in real time.

Make Succession Planning an Ongoing Priority

JP Morgan knows that Jamie Dimon will be retiring soon. However, not all corporations get the privilege of early knowledge. It’s in every corporate team’s best interests to build a leadership pipeline that allows them to continually identify and fill skill gaps and ensure leaders are ready to go at any time.

Tomorrow’s Success Depends on Today’s Actions

What Jamie Dimon will do next is anyone’s guess. Some think he may teach, and others think he’ll retain his position as chairman so he can keep coming to work every day. He has also expressed interest in government and politics. If his succession planning is as good as his CEO skills, JP Morgan will be in good hands regardless of Dimon’s decision.

It’s important for all board members and CEOs to enjoy the success their companies are having today while ensuring that they keep an eye on the future. JP Morgan’s approach, which includes starting early with developing the leadership pipeline and ensuring potential candidates get the broad experience they need, offers many lessons. 

Some additional steps companies and boards should consider are understanding the company’s future goals and direction, creating a list of core competencies for the position, completing a “trial run” for candidates when possible, and ensuring that succession planning is an ongoing effort.

Being a top executive or director is hard work. However, learning from the mistakes and successes of others can definitely help CEOs and board members smooth out crooked paths. By planning early and planning well, executives set themselves and the entire organization up for maximum success.