SACO, Maine – JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon sat in a tent outside the local branch here Thursday, listening to employee feedback on the bank’s operations in Maine, with temperatures in the 90’s.
Employees were just as blunt as the outspoken Dimon, who is known for walking into a branch and talking to a customer or brushing off an employee in the office and getting feedback.
The head of the country’s largest bank learned how to improve his business during his first visit to the Saco branch.
“I learned a bunch of things that we don’t do particularly well,” he said. “I heard a terrible story, and we are dealing with it now.”
Dimon traveled to Maine on an annual bus tour with other managers to visit local branches and interact with employees. Part of the trip was to announce the bank’s expansion into New England, including adding two branches to the existing four in Maine by 2025.
The first is planned for Yarmouth in 2024 and the location of the second has not been announced. It already has branches in Saco, Portland, Falmouth and Westbrook.
Dressed casually in jeans and a blue polo shirt, Dimon said it was important for management to visit employees and listen to them, whether it was a check that took too long to settle or a a customer waiting too long.
“We’re going to find out what happened and then we’re going to fix things,” said Dimon, a New York native who spent the morning walking around Portland’s Old Harbor and called it “very cute”.
It was the kind of one-on-one you might not expect from the leader of a global company with 250,000 employees. But that kind of personal interaction is where Dimon says he finds ideas for improving operations and what has given him his reputation as an influential and stellar manager.
The famous New York-based bank entered Maine four years ago, but it already has 200,000 retail customers, nearly 7,000 business customers, four branches and eight ATMs. It also has 11 branches in Massachusetts, five in Rhode Island, four in New Hampshire and two in Vermont.
With $3.74 trillion in assets in 2021, it is far larger than Maine’s two largest banks, with Bangor Savings Bank having $6.18 billion in assets and Camden National Bank having 5.5 billions of dollars.
The bank can compete with its digital products, credit cards already in use by Mainers and its ability to support businesses expanding overseas, said Doug Petno, JPMorgan’s commercial banking chief executive.
“We have a wide range of solutions that can give customers peace of mind,” he said.
Peace of mind is also important to Dimon. He has been described as “the toughest guy on Wall Street” and “America’s least hated banker”, the latter by The New York Times praising his leadership in keeping the bank profitable and continuing to offer credit during the Great Recession.
Dimon sees himself more as a Ted Lasso-type manager, referencing the Apple TV show about an American football manager hired to manage a British football team who uses optimism and determination to fill his knowledge gap.
“I really want my legacy to be that I made the world a better place while I was here, and that’s it,” Dimon said. “These people trusted me and respected me and I did my best and left everything on the pitch.”