For Jamie Dimon, retirement from JP Morgan is always five years away

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Jamie Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan Chase, speaking at the 2019 WEF in Davos, Switzerland on Jan. 23rd, 2019.

Adam Galica | CNBC

For years, Jamie Dimon had a running joke: Ask him when he was going to step down from J.P. Morgan Chase, and the answer was always five years in the future, no matter when the question was asked.

But two years ago, Dimon said in a press release that he would continue as CEO “for approximately five more years” as the bank appointed a pair of co-presidents who could step in for him if needed.

Fast forward to now: Dimon appeared uncommitted to that timing when CNBC asked him about it in a Tuesday media call.

“My statement stays the same, it’s five years,” Dimon said. “When and if we ever set an actual retirement date, we’ll let you know.”

It’s understandable that Dimon, 63, doesn’t want to think about stepping down right now. He built J.P. Morgan into the biggest U.S. bank after the financial crisis, the industry’s 800-pound gorilla across Main Street and Wall Street. The company is fresh off the most profitable year of any bank in history, and J.P. Morgan is currently among the most richly valued of the big lenders after surging about 40% last year.

But one reason the bank made that January 2018 statement was to allay fears that talented deputies would leave in frustration, a critique given in the past. Dimon’s deputies have gone on to lead banks and financial firms around the world, most recently at Wells Fargo.

A spokesman for J.P. Morgan said that the bank’s board has the ultimate say on when Dimon retires and noted that the 2018 statement was an approximation.

Dimon’s rival at Bank of America, Brian Moynihan, 60, has said he wants to lead his firm for as long as possible, pointing to 89-year-old Warren Buffett at Berkshire Hathaway.

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