He's been called the golden boy, the best banker in America, the person singly responsible for JP Morgan's (JPM) success, and someone too important to be messed with. But if you ask Chris Whalen if Jamie Dimon, or any bank CEO, should hold both the chairman and CEO titles he'll tell you straight up that it's a terrible mistake.
"The division of jobs is not about efficiency or stock performance. It's about accountability," says Whalen, the managing director at Carrington Investment Services. "There's really no protection for the small shareholder, so you need accountability. You need to have the operator running the business and the board essentially oversees their activities."
While many have argued that the 60% surge in shares of JP Morgan over the past year outweighs the black eye the bank and its leader suffered as a result of $6 billion so-called London Whale trading losses, Whalen is unmoved by that argument.
"Everybody keeps going, 'oh the stock is up, Chris.' It's at book value, guys, and it's probably fairly valued," he says, characterizing Dimon's performance as a having done "a good job but not tremendous."
And even if this vote had passed and the investors decided they wanted to split the two roles, Whalen points out, "the board has no duty to follow the wishes of shareholders" since it is a non-binding referendum. Even so, he predicts there will be change at JP Morgan.
"I think what's going to happen is that you'll see changes on the board, regardless of what the vote is, and over time you'll probably see a new CEO," who of course would report to Chairman Dimon and the board.
Talk about accountability.