“This is the first CNBC interview I’m doing that my mother’s not watching. And she would always call me or send me a note afterwards. And — you know, she — she was proud of me.”
Jamie Dimon, the 60-year-old chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase, has had a tough period in his personal life. Having overcome a battle with cancer last year, he thought the worst was behind him. But soon after his recovery, Dimon’s close friend and colleague Jimmy Lee, the legendary investment banker, died suddenly. And then in June, he lost both his parents within hours of each other.
During that period, Dimon has led JPMorgan Chase through the Brexit referendum, Federal Reserve stress tests andquarterly earnings. His schedule took him to California this week for his annual bus tour to visit employees, clients and offices of JPMorgan, which is where CNBC sat down with him on Monday for an exclusive interview and asked him how he has managed to navigate the last few weeks at work given his recent loss. The answer centered on having a close family to rely on.
“I’m all right. My parents had been ill for awhile. So you have some time to get prepared. My family is very tight. And we were all there right to the end. And so it was as nice as it could possibly have been,” Dimon said, adding, “I love my children, I spend a lot of time with them.”
Over the 24 hours CNBC spent with Dimon, he did indeed appear fine, and he seemed to genuinely enjoy being on the road with his employees. “I love the job. I love the people of this company. I love what I do,” he said. “And I’d miss the camaraderie. I’d miss the fighting for something. I’d miss me and our employees in all parts of the world.”
That is why, despite the travails in his personal life, he has no plans to slow down the pace of his work: ” I would miss it terribly.”
“I get to deal with presidents and prime ministers and — and employees from tellers on up,” he said. “And I love it.”
It was not just his job he was upbeat on. Toward the end of the interview, he took a patriotic tone, outlining why he feels that America’s future is bright.
“We have the best military in the planet, the best military barrier ever built called the Atlantic and the Pacific. Very peaceful and friendly neighbors called Mexico and Canada. Some of the best universities in the planet. Some of the best businesses in the planet, great work ethic, great rule of law, other than how it often applies to banks,” he said.
“The widest and deepest financial markets that the world’s ever seen. You don’t get that in Brazil, Russia, India, China. I’m not making fun of them. We have all the food, water and energy we should need. Again, you don’t get that [elsewhere]. And I’m saying this out of respect for China. They don’t have enough food, water and energy. They have 500 million people living in poverty. And they have a lot of very tough neighbors in the neighborhood,” he said. “So, you know, we — America should look at what we do very well.”
Dimon said that the U.S. economy could grow at 4 percent again under the next president. “But it’s not a divine right. We don’t have a divine right to success. So I agree with a lot of politicians out there when they say, ‘We’ve got serious issues.’ We do: immigration, infrastructure. I think income inequality’s one of them. You know, which is why we recently are changing our wage rates … at JPMorgan. So let’s get together, collaborate, and fix the problem so that that beautiful future we have is the one we accomplish.”