Jamie Dimon calls shareholder meetings ‘complete waste of time’
JPMorgan Chase boss came under fire at US bank’s last annual get-together in Delaware
Ben McLannahan in New York, Financial Times
JPMorgan Chase chairman and chief executive Jamie Dimon has denounced annual shareholder meetings as “a complete waste of time,” nine months after he was harangued at the bank’s yearly get-together in Delaware.
Mr Dimon's latest comments, delivered at the US bank’s annual investor day on Tuesday, are likely to stir debate over the usefulness of shareholder meetings, which tend to be the only opportunity for retail investors to connect with top managers.
But in recent years, executives at several big banks have been unnerved by encounters with interest groups that gain admission to meetings by buying, or borrowing, a small number of shares.
Last May, at JPMorgan’s annual meeting in Wilmington, Delaware, Mr Dimon was attacked over a range of issues, including the bank’s financing of private prisons and his role on Donald Trump’s now-defunct business advisory council.
Dozens of protesters also staged demonstrations outside the meeting, repeating chants and slogans they had used during a civil disobedience action at the bank’s New York headquarters on May Day.
“Shareholder meetings . . . have become a complete waste of time, let’s call it what it is,” Mr Dimon said on Tuesday before a question-and-answer session with Wall Street analysts.
He added that the meetings had become “a joke . . . hijacked by people who have only political interests and don’t have any interest in the future health of the company”.
Mr Dimon went on to underscore JPMorgan’s commitment to corporate social responsibility, noting that the biggest bank in America had backed a range of projects, from the redevelopment of Detroit to the building of affordable housing.
“We . . . don’t think that taking care of your communities is a bad thing,” he said. “Companies like ours have been doing that for 30, 40, 50 years; I don’t know what’s new about it.”
The hostile atmosphere at last year’s annual meeting prompted Mr Dimon to try to lighten the mood with a joke, complaining that the protesters were “starting to hurt [his] feelings”. But one shareholder admonished him by saying that just by hearing him out, the chief executive would earn more than $100.
“I hope it’s worth it!” said Mr Dimon, who was paid $28m the previous year.
“This is not a laughing matter,” the participant replied.