Last Man Standing | Duff McDonald

Summary of: Last Man Standing: The Ascent of Jamie Dimon and JPMorgan Chase
By: Duff McDonald


Dive into the inspiring journey of Jamie Dimon, the tenacious and visionary leader who ascended to the pinnacle of the financial world as CEO of JPMorgan Chase. This summary of Last Man Standing by Duff McDonald chronicles the life and career of Dimon, revealing how his early years, experiences, and relationships shaped him into a formidable banking titan. Discover the various challenges he faced, his strategic prowess, and how he navigated the treacherous waters of financial crises to cement JPMorgan Chase as a force to be reckoned with. The summary also delves into Dimon’s bold decisions, passion for fostering a well-run company, and unwavering commitment to hard work and integrity.

Jamie Dimon: Rise of a Banking Titan

Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, is a third-generation banker with a family history tracing back to a Greek refugee who arrived in New York in 1921. He grew up in Queens, New York, and attended Tufts University where he caught the attention of Sandy Weill, head of the firm acquiring Shearson Hammill, where Dimon’s father worked. After college, Dimon worked for a consulting firm before attending Harvard Business School. There, he met his future wife and graduated in 1982. Throughout his career, Dimon proved himself as a daring and ethical businessman, unafraid to challenge authority when necessary. He eventually rose to become CEO of JPMorgan Chase, the country’s bank of last resort.

The Rise of Jamie Dimon

The story of Jamie Dimon’s rise to the top of the finance industry is one of persistence, shrewd business moves, and competitive camaraderie with mentor Sanford Weill. After rejecting job offers from Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, and Morgan Stanley, Dimon joined American Express at Weill’s invitation. Political maneuvering led to Weill and Dimon’s resignation, but they soon bounced back and bought struggling insurance unit Fireman’s Fund with Warren Buffett’s help. The Amex board vetoed the deal, but the experience led Weill and Dimon to purchase Baltimore-based consumer lender Commercial Credit. Dimon’s mastery of the company’s finances, willingness to play bare-knuckled politics, and cost-slashing efforts helped transform Commercial Credit into a profitable public company. With Weill, Dimon scored a coup by acquiring financial conglomerate Primerica, which led to Dimon becoming its president. His intelligence, mastery of details, and business savvy were undeniable, but he lacked humility and was willing to fire people when necessary. In 1993, Weill and Dimon purchased Shearson, combined it with Primerica’s Smith Barney brokerage, and successfully “sheared Shearson right out of Shearson Lehman.” Throughout his ascension, Dimon and Weill drove tough bargains and had a competitive camaraderie that included wagering on various issues.

Dimon and Weill’s Strained Relationship

The book recounts the turbulent relationship between Jamie Dimon and Sandy Weill, former CEO and Chairman of Citigroup, respectively. Dimon’s reputation as a rising star in the company led to jealousy and mistrust from Weill, who began to suspect that Dimon was keeping information from him. Their relationship had always been contentious, with Dimon unafraid to challenge authority. Meanwhile, Weill’s protective nature towards his daughter Jessica, who clashed with Dimon over the sale of no-load mutual funds, further strained their relationship. Weill publicly denied that Dimon was his successor, and their relationship remained damaged despite assumptions to the contrary. The book also covers Weil’s cutbacks on perks for management, including the cancellation of all newspaper subscriptions.

The Rise and Fall of Dimon at Salomon Brothers and Citicorp

This book chapter covers the rise and fall of Jamie Dimon’s career as CEO at Salomon Brothers and Citicorp. Dimon joined Salomon Brothers in 1985 and was appointed CEO in 1996. In 1997, Travelers bought Salomon, and Dimon shared his co-CEO position with Deryck Maughan, which caused tensions. Meanwhile, Salomon’s trading unit was losing money, and Dimon had to close it down, leading to the collapse of Long-Term Capital Management. Later, Weill and Dimon planned to buy Citicorp, but Weill refused to give Dimon a seat on its board. This led to frictions between Dimon and Maughan, and Dimon was fired. His exit led to the departure of other top people at Citicorp.

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