NEW YORK -- JPMorgan Chase will promote two women to jointly manage the bank's consumer finance division -- the bank's biggest business by far -- placing them a step closer to potentially succeeding Jamie Dimon as chief executive officer of the nation's largest bank.
The bank said Tuesday that Marianne Lake, who was JPMorgan's chief financial officer for several years until recently, and its current chief financial officer Jennifer Piepszak will become co-chief executive officers of the consumer banking business. Gordon Smith, who has run that division for several years, plans to retire at the end of the year.
The plans for Lake, Piepszak and Smith were announced in an internal memo from Dimon.
The promotion of Lake and Piepszak into the bank's second-most important post is a likely signal that Dimon, who has been at the helm of JPMorgan Chase since 2005, is leaning toward choosing a woman to lead the company after he retires. Dimon has made no public statements on his succession plans, even after some health issues the last couple of years.
"They have proven track records of working successfully across the firm and both are well known and respected within the financial industry for their exceptional character and capabilities," Dimon said in his memo.
If a woman would be chosen to run JPMorgan Chase, she would be only the second woman to be the head of a major financial institution. Citigroup promoted Jane Fraser into the CEO role this year, the first woman to run a major Wall Street bank.
Lake has long appeared on lists of potential heirs to Dimon. She's spent two decades at the firm, most recently as head of consumer lending, a group of businesses that generate about a fourth of the company's revenue. She earlier served as chief financial officer for seven years, a post she assumed as part of a management shakeup in the wake of the London Whale trading loss.
Piepszak became one of Dimon's possible successors when she was named CFO in 2019, succeeding Lake. She previously led JPMorgan's credit-card business for two years and earlier oversaw financing operations for the mortgage business during a period in which it faced a host of crisis-era settlements with regulators. She came up through JPMorgan's investment-banking operations and jumped to the consumer business in 2010.
Piepszak has also overseen finances for the New York-based bank at a time of global turmoil brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. It was ultimately a period in which Wall Street thrived, helping lead JPMorgan to a series of earnings records.
In other management changes announced Tuesday in a statement, Daniel Pinto will become sole president and COO upon Smith's retirement, and Jeremy Barnum will succeed Piepszak as CFO.
Smith's retirement is a big change at JPMorgan. Smith has largely been considered one of the most successful consumer bankers in the industry, creating such products like Chase's Sapphire Reserve Card and heavily promoting Chase to use digital channels to reach customers.
Smith's name came up repeatedly in reports and rumors that he was a possible successor to Dimon, or could potentially become CEO of another bank. However, there were two factors that went against him. Smith, 62, is relatively close in age to Dimon, 65, and would not be considered a viable long-term replacement for Dimon when he retires.
The other issue is outside pressure. Politicians, industry watchers and activists have actively pressed for JPMorgan and other major banks to consider promoting a woman, particularly since banking is such a male-dominated profession. At a Congressional hearing in 2019, all seven heads of the major Wall Street banks were asked whether they were considering a woman or person of color as their successor. None of the CEOs at that hearing raised their hands at the time.
Information for this article was contributed by Ken Sweet of The Associated Press and by Hannah Levitt and Sridhar Natarajan of Bloomberg News (WPNS).