There’s a difference between allowed to retire and being fired ‘with cause’ – a $21.5 million difference in the case of JPMorgan’s Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM) former Chief Investment Officer, Ina Drew, according to an article in the Chicago Tribune.
Drew retired May 14, four days after a loss of $2 billion in her division was made public by the bank. Because she retired, she gets to keep $17.1 million in stock and about $4.4 million in options. Taken with other retiral benefits she received about $57.5 million upon laying down her 30-year stint with the bank.
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During her service with the bank she is given credit for having managed a $370 billion portfolio, and for expertly steering the bank’s investments through a series of crises such as the Russian debt crisis, the implosion of Long Term Capital Management, Enron’s bankruptcy and the 2008 global financial crisis. She was well thought of both within the bank and on Wall Street.
The loss which cause her downfall was incurred after a massive hedge transaction tied to illiquid credit derivatives turned sour. The bank is currently still unwinding these positions and the initial estimate of the loss could go up significantly. Chief Executive Jamie Dimon, who had initially rubbished rumors of this huge position as ‘a tempest in a teacup,’ later had to admit that he had been wrong and that the bank had incurred losses due to an errant strategy at a unit that was supposed to manage risk. Always a votary for minimal regulation of banks, Dimon was embarrassed before regulators due to the loss. Indeed, he claimed at recent hearings on the Hill that the bank would ‘clawback’ two years of bonuses.
Would Drew be affected?
Maybe not, says Paul Sobera, President, Alliance Consulting. “You have to look at the whole scenario – this woman was running a $370 billion portfolio, and a $2 billion or $3 billion loss is 1 percent.”
Besides, “If she was fired for cause, it would be a strong argument for clawbacks,” he says. “Since she wasn’t fired for cause, there is an argument that she was performing her duties satisfactorily despite this one particular loss.”