Postcards

How the power players do it - by Fortune senior editor at large Patricia Sellers

A pair of Dimons at JPMorgan Chase

November 10, 2009: 12:10 PM ET

by Patricia Sellers

Ted Dimon Sr. started a new job yesterday.

Not just any job. Formerly a broker at Merrill Lynch, Dimon joined the brokerage unit of JPMorgan Chase (JPM). His son happens to be CEO of the parent company.

Word is, Jamie Dimon steered clear of the deal to hire his 78-year-old dad, who arrived with five other Merrill brokers in tow. According to people close to father and son, Ted Dimon Sr. initially reached out to Barry Sommers, the CEO of Bear Stearns Private Client Services, in the spring of last year, after JPMorgan Chase bought Bear on the cheap as the Wall Street firm was collapsing. Talks revved up in the past four months, as Merrill has been adjusting to its own integration into Bank of America (BAC) and new leadership under former Citigroup (C) exec Sallie Krawcheck.

It's been musical chairs across the industry lately. (The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that UBS' (UBS) new wealth management boss, Bob McCann, who hails from Merrill, is hiring a team of top guns from his old firm.) For the elder Dimon, the rhythm could not be more different at 277 Park Avenue, where his office is directly across the street from his son's. ("As I look from the third floor over Park Avenue, I have a bird's-eye view of when Jamie gets in the morning," Dimon Sr. said through a JPMorgan spokesman this morning.) Whereas BofA Merrill Lynch employs 14,979 financial advisors (as brokers like to be called), JPMorgan's Bear operation is a boutique with just 380 such salespeople. Jamie Dimon, who is 53, wants to expand the business, though. He's talked about upping the number to 1,000.

We hoped to chat with Ted Sr., but he's apparently too busy building client assets. (He started his new job on the day the Dow hit a 13-month high.) We do have a sense of how the father-son dynamic will work at JPMorgan Chase. In Last Man Standing, the recently released biography of Jamie Dimon, author Duff McDonald says that when Ted Sr., the son of Greek immigrants who became a stockbroker 50 years ago, was working for Salomon Smith Barney under Jamie and Sandy Weill, "there might be a company name on his business card, but Ted Dimon Sr. reported to no one." He was a "free agent," and Jamie confirmed that "he would never say I was his boss."

It was Ted Sr. who introduced Jamie and Sandy Weill decades ago when Jamie was a teenager and the families socialized together. If you're familiar with the Shakespearean saga that followed, you probably know that Jamie wrote an economics paper at Tufts University, where he went to college,  about the 1974 merger of Hayden Stone (Weill's company) and Shearson, Hammill (where Ted Sr. worked). Impressed with Jamie's analysis, Weill hired the brash whiz kid to work for him.

And they went on to assemble the financial-services empire that became Citigroup. Their relationship unraveled over personal rivalries and jealousies. Weill fired Dimon. And Dimon went on to be CEO of Bank One and then, in 2005, JPMorgan Chase.

Now Ted Dimon is staking his future at JPMorgan, which outranks Citigroup, BofA, and even Goldman Sachs (GS) in stock-market capitalization. No dummy, that Dimon.

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About This Author
Pattie Sellers
Pattie Sellers
Senior Editor at Large, Fortune
Executive Director of MPW/Live Content, Time Inc.

Pattie Sellers has written more than 20 Fortune cover stories including "Marissa Mayer: Ready to Rumble at Yahoo," "Muhtar Kent's New Coke," "Oprah's Next Act", "The $100 Billion Woman" (Melinda Gates), and "Gone with the Wind" (Ted Turner). She co-founded Fortune Most Powerful Women and oversees the Fortune MPW Summit, the preeminent gathering of women leaders in business and beyond—and programs such as Fortune MPW Entrepreneurs and the Fortune-U.S. State Department Global Women Leaders Mentoring Partnership. Pattie also develops Live Content across Time Inc. Her blog, Postcards, is about how power players lead and navigate their careers. Pattie won Time Inc.'s prestigious MVP award for her performance in 2012.

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