Two years ago, Marianne Lake and Jennifer Piepszak swapped jobs, trading off as company CFO and a high-ranking CEO of the consumer bank. It was a moment that revealed to industry watchers just how serious JPMorgan Chase was about giving each executive the experience she would need to one day, perhaps, take over the entire operation.
This year, JPM upped the ante—and set up our first ever MPW list tie—by placing the pair in the same job at the same time: co-CEOs of consumer and community banking.
Neither woman is technically yet running a Wall Street bank (that honor is still held only by Jane Fraser at Citi), but this shared job is close. With $51 billion in net revenue and $8 billion in net income, Chase is larger than Goldman Sachs and would be the sixth-largest bank on Wall Street on its own.
The pair have complementary résumés. Lake, 52, earned her stripes as a finance exec with a knack for numbers that analysts find remarkable, while Piepszak, 51, rose through the ranks in corporate and investment banking positions.
In this co-CEO role, each is continuing to build experience in areas in which she doesn’t yet have much. Lake, a British transplant to New York, oversees payments, lending, and commerce—divisions like auto finance and card services—while Piepszak runs consumer and business banking and wealth management.
Some observers question why two women have been placed in what seems to be a face-off for the top job (the pair took over the position from retiring exec Gordon Smith, who ran the operation solo). Others are simply skeptical that co-leadership roles at such a high level can function successfully (although job-sharing arrangements aren’t uncommon in finance). “In the rare situations where it works, it’s brilliant,” says Jane Stevenson, vice chair of board and CEO services at leadership advisory firm Korn Ferry. “But if you’ve got competition between the two leaders, that tends to create destructive or toxic elements.”
In public statements, Lake and Piepszak have always emphasized their respect and support for each other—and analysts say they see both as prime contenders to succeed Jamie Dimon (though likely not for a while, given his new five-year, 1.5 million option retention bonus). “You just look at them and you’re impressed with how good they are,” says Evercore analyst Glenn Schorr.
For those eager to see another woman run a bank on Wall Street, an arrangement that places two respected execs closer to the very top is only good news. —Emma Hinchliffe
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