After trading higher for most of the day, shares of JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) are headed down this afternoon as investors and analysts await the results of the bank's proxy vote set to be released tomorrow. With less than an hour left in the trading session, JPMorgan shares are off by $0.02, or 0.04%.
In what could be a defining moment for the nation's largest bank by assets, shareholders will soon learn whether or not they have collectively voted to split the roles of chairman and chief executive officer, both of which are currently occupied by Jamie Dimon.
While Dimon was widely heralded has the nation's top banker after adroitly steering JPMorgan through the financial crisis, his luck began to turn last year on the heels of a massive trading loss known as the London Whale scandal. Dimon had originally dismissed the issue as a "tempest in a teapot," only to subsequently acknowledge that it would cost JPMorgan more than $6 billion.
Things proceeded to go downhill for there. The bank has since become embroiled in the LIBOR bid-rigging scandal as well as recent allegations that it manipulated energy markets and hid evidence of its doing so. It's worth noting, moreover, that these allegations are on top of a veritable litany of other charges.
The question now is whether Dimon will pay for these missteps (and in some cases alleged criminal behavior) with one or both of his positions. The two largest proxy advisory firms have recommended to shareholders that he should. For its part, however, JPMorgan has waged an aggressive campaign to maintain the status quo. And just last week, Dimon intimated that he would leave the bank if asked to relinquish one of the roles.
What's the chance he'll be forced to make good on this threat? It's hard to predict, but I'd guess he's probably safe. Among other reasons, some of its largest shareholders, including BlackRock, employ a similar dual role for their chairmen and CEOs. Whether this will ultimately be good for the stock remains to be seen.