More JPMorgan Shakeups in Wake of London Whale Trading Debacle
byJul 27th 2012 6:07PM
The post-"London Whale" housecleaning at JPMorgan Chase (JPM) isn't over yet.
On Thursday, the country's biggest bank by assets announced sweeping changes in both its top-level management and its organization. The changes, the bank said in a statement, will help it "better serve consumer customers" as well as "benefit corporate and investor clients around the world."
On the management side, Matt Zames will remain head of the bank's chief investment office, but will also become co-chief operating officer of the entire firm.
Zames is best known for -- as the bank put it – parachuting into the chief investment office after the London Whale revelations surfaced. In its most recent quarterly earnings report, JPMorgan revealed that the trading blunder cost the bank $5.5 billion.
Zames was tasked with unwinding the bank's massive credit default swap positions. (He replaced long-serving Dimon-lieutenant Ina Drew, who resigned in the wake of the scandal.) At the height of the crisis, Dimon referred to Zames as "the kind of person you want to be in a foxhole with." Zames has been mentioned in the press as a possible successor to Dimon.
Streamlining for Clarity, Cost, and Efficiency
On the organizational side, JPMorgan says it's continuing to try and streamline operations and draw a clear line between the corporate and investment side of the bank and the consumer and community banking side.
In that vein, on the consumer and community banking side JPMorgan will continue its successful "One Chase" interdepartmental merging efforts.
On the other side, JPMorgan's investment bank, treasury and securities services, and global corporate bank will be combined into a single corporate and investment bank. This should help the bank reduce costly customer and client overlap.
The Depression-era Banking Act That Refuses to Die
The overlap in the U.S. banking system between consumer and investment banking has been controversial since the financial crash.
In 1999, Congress overturned the 1932 Glass-Steagall Act, which inscribed a clear border between pure investment banking and federally insured consumer banking. Some economists, politicians and media folks blame the financial crash on the repeal of Glass-Steagall. And on Wednesday, Sandy Weill, ex-CEO of Citigroup (C) and one of the main chief architects of Glass-Steagall's destruction, made headlines by coming out in favor of reinstating the act.
JPMorgan Chase, the kind of superbank that couldn't have existed before Glass-Steagall's repeal, has been held up repeatedly of late as an example of U.S. banks that are too big to manage and too big to fail.
John Grgurich is a regular contributor to The Motley Fool, and owns no shares in any of the companies mentioned in this column. The Motley Fool owns shares of JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup.