Dimon diaspora extends to Barclays

October 13, 2015

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Jamie Dimon’s global diaspora is on the verge of extending its reach to Barclays. Jes Staley, the onetime investment banking chief at JPMorgan, looks poised to be the UK lender’s next boss. He would join a coterie of former Dimon lieutenants in chief executive roles. Staley, however, will put the mega-bank skills to the biggest test.

Staley, who is managing partner at hedge fund BlueMountain, presided over market share growth in JPMorgan’s Wall Street advice and trading operations after taking over in 2009. Previously, he helped the investment management division double assets under management to $1.3 trillion. And as a member of the bank’s upper echelons he would have contributed to the 2008 decisions to buy Bear Stearns and expand the Chase retail brand by acquiring Washington Mutual out of receivership.

The class of Dimon deputies is shaping up to be a formidable one. Bill Winters, Staley’s predecessor at the investment bank, took the top job at Standard Chartered earlier this year. Charlie Scharf now runs Visa, after turning a decent but somewhat directionless JPMorgan retail business into a solid operation.

Scott Powell, a Scharf protégé, was hired earlier this year to run Santander’s embattled U.S. operations. His chairman is JPMorgan’s former head of regulatory affairs, Tim Ryan. Santander also appointed Blythe Masters, a JPMorgan veteran, to chair its U.S. auto lender. Meanwhile, erstwhile Dimon consigliere Frank Bisignano now leads First Data, the payments processor due to go public this week.

Their success is a testament to the demanding environment Dimon fosters at JPMorgan. Winters and Staley lost out when they were seen as potential challengers for the top job. JPMorgan also is conspicuously missing from the list of 15 banks managing First Data’s IPO.

Of all the alumni, Staley probably will get the best chance to apply his universal banking knowhow. Barclays remains one even though it sold its asset management business and is shrinking its investment bank. Its return on equity is on track to fall short of its cost of capital until at least 2018, according to Thomson Reuters data. That means the UK bank will be counting on Staley to make the most of the JPMorgan experience.

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