Ask Brock: Jamie Dimon, Genius!

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Brock Fantasia is the only remaining person in the JPMorgan analyst class of 2002 to still work at JPMorgan, which is in no way testament to the work environment at JPMorgan. In fact, Brock likes to think of himself as the Highlander of his analyst class, wielding an indestructible claymore of corporate finance.
After “totally wrecking” (in his own words) the Analyst-to-Associate program in the M&A group, Brock was briefly moved to the Natural Resources group, due to increased deal flow in the M&A group. Brock graduated from the prestigious University of Pennsylvania Wharton with a degree in Finance and is working in investment banking until he can find a buy-side job. Brock has been interviewing for buy-side jobs throughout the past 3 years and has not been a “good fit” anywhere, despite his ever-burgeoning skill-set.
[Editor's P.S.,- Some of this is true. But only some of it. Previous Ask Brocks are here. Send your questions to : brock AT dealbreaker DOT com]
Hi, it’s me, B to the Rock, so let’s win this.
Now, I don’t like to throw around the word “genius” lightly, but everyone I work with at JPMorgan is a genius. We’re talking above a 620 on the verbal section of the SATs type of genius. Upon seeing the analogy:
Consultant : Pansy with a skill set as soft as his/her pectorals ::
JPMorgan Investment Banker : [x]
a.) Human bidet
b.) Breed of pack animal indigenous to Manhattan
c.) Shoulder-length rubber glove
d.) Genius
e.) Ecuadorian migrant worker with a 401k and dental
f.) None of the above, as analogies are no longer a section of the SATs
The JPMorgan employee, forged out of the bedrock of humility and perspective, would inevitably answer, d. (We would have also accepted a.) (More after the jump...)


I liken the genius of a JPMorgan employee to Zack Morris, who got a 1502 on his SATs, which is impossible, and therefore genius. Now you might also think it’s impossible for a human being to not shower for 4 days and still have functional, voluntary interactions with a deal team, but then you would also not work for JPMorgan. That impossible stench can’t be replicated by Goldman, or common “day-bathers,” because that is the impossible stench of genius. It’s a difference in basic attitude. You didn’t see Jessie Spano get a 1502 on her SATs, you saw her start to pop pills and screw guys in Vegas pools. Jessie Spano became a consultant, and not a consultant for genius.
Concerning the particular geniuses I work with at JPMorgan, it doesn’t necessarily take a genius to realize that it might be a good idea for a very large company in a particular industry to buy a much smaller company in the same exact industry. It takes a real genius to consider what would happen if this large company acquired every single small company in the industry. The large company is bound to want to acquire something, right? Who needs insight when you have permutation?
It takes a unique genius for your managing director to frame the simple issuance of a high-yield bond in a way that makes it seem like your deal team solved the Poincare conjecture. My last deal team made that high-yield bond issuance a mind-blowing reality! The client levered up from 1.3x-1.7x, which was clearly a risk that needed to be assessed over four 70-page pitch books. That resulting company, so transfigured that even Kafka wouldn’t recognize it, had a new beta of just slightly over genius.
Former CEO of JPMorgan, Bill Harrison, is a special type of genius. Bill realized at the early age of most receding glacial masses that if JPMorgan owned every single bank in the world that it would be the de facto #1 bank, behind Goldman Sachs, which wasn’t for sale. And behind Citigroup in retail banking and most commercial lending, which was also too large to purchase. And behind Morgan Stanley, especially in prop trading and equities. But I digress…
To a shortsighted few, the JPMorgan acquisition of several smaller properties wasn’t the right decision. Some said that JPMorgan was just gobbling up properties almost totally at random, just because something was for sale, or even existed. Now those people know what it’s like to have their negative opinions pistol-whipped by synergy.
Just to clarify though, Mr. Harrison; my lemonade stand wasn’t for sale. Just because I gave my buddy a fiver to buy some Fun Dip in ’92, my lending operation was meager at best. I don’t care if you thought you could consolidate the volatile western half of the Lakeview Drive cul-de-sac, strong-arming my spelling teacher and poisoning my goldfish were just plain mean. Shortly after the acquisition, JPMorgan booked four-million dollars in goodwill and drove the stand deep into the red. JPMorgan’s strategic thinking clearly suckles at the teat of genius.
To smooth over these small bumps in the road, it was the genius of Bill Harrison to realize that true authority, corporate or political, comes from a popular mandate, and not from monarchial primogeniture legitimized by divine decree. To consolidate the 37 newly acquired banks from Texas Commerce to Piggy, it was suggested that Bill Harrison unite the masses with a Tennis Court Oath of sorts, to bring the employees of JPMorgan Chase together in a bold, legacy defining move.
Not an ardent student of history, Bill Harrison’s Tennis Court Oath was to become the main sponsor of the US Open, and provide tickets only to select I-banking clients and to few, if any of the 90+ thousand employees of JPMorgan Chase. This is why JPMorgan is the most seamlessly integrated financial institution on the planet. It takes genius to right a ship with navigational foresight that makes the driver of the Exxon Valdez seem like Captain Nemo.
Current JPMorgan CEO, Jamie Dimon, is another special type of genius. Mr. Dimon is someone who rose to the top through hard work, determination and sheer force of will. The sheer force of will to have Sandy Weill as an old family friend and other connections coming from 3 generations of financial traders. Very few people have had a market made for how many inches their mother’s cervix dilates during birth, but Jamie Dimon is one of these people (the only one to go long with the unexpected hedge of a C-section, Jamie’s father cleaned up).
Jamie Dimon is a cutter of costs, not of corners. Since one of his first moves was to get rid of the corporate gym, most employees are actually physically unable to cut corners. Expanding waistlines, expanding profits!
Jamie Dimon wears a “WWJD” bracelet that stands for “What Would Jamie Dimon.” The person who pointed out that it would make much more sense for the letters to just stand for “What Would Jamie Do,” even if just an internal mantra, was fired. You don’t get as far as Jamie Dimon without taking risks, or by using pesky verbs. Jamie Dimon is his own direct object. The direct object of genius.
My advice for this week is that you nominate your superiors for a MacArthur Fellowship, commonly referred to as the “Genius Grant.” Who cares if the foundation has a limited pool of external nominators and doesn’t accept outside nominations? When they see the sheer genius of your VP’s idea for a telecom company to issue a “special” dividend because it has far too much cash on its books and there are absolutely no other rational fee-generating activities that this client could, or would, partake in, the MacArthur Foundation will instantly reconsider its methods.
That’s all for this week. I have an interview to go to. Taking your tie and jacket off when you get back to the bank to make it look like you didn’t have an interview…you guessed it…earth-shattering genius.

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