Jamie Dimon, the longtime chairman and CEO of JP Morgan Chase, has never been afraid to speak his mind in public. And a recent View From The Top session at the Graduate School of Business was no exception. He told an audience that inappropriate regulation and burdensome taxation has cut U.S. GDP growth in half, that he wasn’t at all embarrassed by working with President Trump, and that trendy investments in bitcoin are “stupid.” He also drew a line against gender discrimination in the workplace and urged men to stop playing golf and watching football all weekend and spend more time with their families. The 61-year-old executive shared insights on management, politics, and technology, during his hourlong talk in November.
Competitive Tax Reform Must Happen
U.S.-owned companies have parked some $4 trillion in profits earned abroad in overseas banks and investments, Dimon says. “Had you had a competitive tax system 10 years ago, there would've probably been $3 trillion retained here, in companies and capital,” he says. Companies prefer to do business overseas because “it's so much more advantageous to do stuff over there.”
Regulation Is Hurting Small Business
Millions of small businesses were never formed, Dimon says, because government policies stood in the way. “The reason is lack of access to credit and regulations.” Dimon says he isn’t calling for less regulation, per se, but for proper regulation. “They massively overdid it.”
Banking Regulations Are Damaging the Economy
The crash of 2008 spurred regulatory and legislative moves designed to deter dangerous lending and banking practices. But the unintended consequence of those moves was the loss of $1 trillion to $2 trillion in mortgages “because of the cost, lack of securitization, lack of servicing requirements, and litigation,” Dimon says. Loosening credit requirements somewhat would not increase risk for banks or the government, he argues.
Business Should Help Government
Dimon and other CEOs who agreed to serve on President’s Trump’s advisory council were on the receiving end of a good deal of criticism. But Dimon says he has no regrets about joining. “If you think somehow decisions can be made properly in Washington without the help of business, they won't,” he says.
The Media Are Biased
Dimon maintains that criticism of the advisory councils was politically motivated and he says that Trump is unfairly criticized by the media. "I don't remember the press calling me up and saying I have to go public every time I disagreed with something Obama did,” he adds. “So the media really are extremely biased. And they're going to have to do something about it. Not all — I mean, they're all biased in their own way.”
Bitcoin Is Stupid, but Blockchain Isn’t
Dimon has repeatedly pilloried bitcoin as an investment, calling it “stupid” on more than one occasion. But when it comes to blockchains, the technology underlying the cryptocurrency, that’s a different matter. JPMorgan, which spends roughly $9 billion a year on technology, uses blockchain applications to move trillions of dollars between company’s accounts. The company has invested in more than 100 financial technology companies and is rolling out new mobile trading applications, Dimon says.
Don’t Be Afraid to Fire
Many managers are reluctant to fire underperforming employees — but that’s a mistake, says Dimon. “In sports, if you're not batting 250, you're not going to be playing second base. And it's very easy to take out a pitcher who's not doing a good job. In business, they're left in those jobs for a long time.” Managers should treat people they are firing respectfully and make the reasons for the termination clear. “If you're going to run a real meritocracy, you've got to make sure you really do it,” he says.
Mean What You Say
A lot of managers say things like “the customer is the most important thing,” but all too often those words don’t mean much, says Dimon. “People say that, and they don't mean it in any way, shape, or form. They do no actions that would actually support the statement,” he says. “It should mean something specific, like, do you actually read customer complaints? And then you do something about it as opposed to ‘we put the customer first.’”