Abigail with attitude: JPMorgan's lead director of the board – a case of 'much ado about nothing'?

By:
Abigail Hofman
Published on:
Lee Raymond will be JPMorgan’s lead director. But there’s no doubt Jamie Dimon is still to be master of his board – and bank
Lee Raymond will be JPMorgan’s lead director. But there’s no doubt Jamie Dimon is still to be master of his board – and bank
I am pleased to relate that finally JPMorgan is moving towards some semblance of seemly corporate governance. Perhaps senior management have been reading the Abigail with attitude column. I have been criticizing the makeup of the bank’s board since July 2009 when I wrote: ‘I find the JPMorgan board intriguing in that, although the members are impressive in their respective fields, few have in-depth financial expertise. JPMorgan is doing well today, but should it stumble the board will be scrutinized.’ I renewed my call for better corporate governance in May this year when certain investors were agitating for Jamie Dimon to split his chief executive and chairman roles. I correctly predicted that the rebellion would blow over: ‘My bet is that Dimon stays and investors back down.’ However, I did suggest that some long-standing directors with little direct financial experience – such as Ellen Futter – should go.


Now news is leaking out that JPMorgan will create a position of lead director of the board to give a sense of counterbalance to Dimon’s pre-eminence. This new role will be held by, former Exxon Mobil chief executive Lee Raymond, who is currently the bank’s presiding director. Might this be a case of ‘much ado about nothing’ as the same person will essentially be doing the same job but with a different, and more grandiose, job title? Nevertheless, I am pleased that Ellen Futter and David Cote are resigning from the JPMorgan board after big minority votes were registered against their re-election at the annual general meeting. I would highlight this as a small but important step in the right direction and a modest victory for shareholders and the Abigail with attitude column.