Matt Zames, the tough-minded chief operating officer of the banking colossus JPMorgan Chase, is unexpectedly resigning.
His departure was disclosed on Thursday in an internal memo from Jamie Dimon, the bank’s chief executive, who spoke admiringly of Mr. Zames’s career.
Mr. Zames, Mr. Dimon wrote, “recently informed me of his decision to leave our firm following 13 years of outstanding service.” He has worked “tirelessly across many disciplines to help make us a better company,” Mr. Dimon added.
In an interview on Thursday afternoon, Mr. Zames, 46, said he was leaving over a desire to run his own business, either at a financial company or perhaps in a role that combined finance and technology.
“I have been in this business almost 25 years,” he said. “I spent the vast majority of my time running businesses, driving things forward, facing off against clients, taking business risk.”
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“But at its core, look: I’ll be 47 in October,” he added. “I want to get back to running the railroad — running my railroad, running my business. So it’s just a natural point.”
Matt Zames, the departing chief operating officer.
His exit is sure to rekindle speculation about who will succeed Mr. Dimon, who at 61 is in his 11th year as chief executive of the large international bank and has shown little interest in leaving.
In the wake of the 2012 “London whale” trading loss of $6 billion, a series of executives left the bank, including James E. Staley, Michael J. Cavanagh and Frank J. Bisignano, who at various points were seen as possible heirs apparent.
More recently, the focus has shifted to up-and-comers like Marianne Lake, the bank’s chief financial officer, as well as on established players like Gordon Smith, its chief executive of consumer and community banking, and Daniel Pinto, who runs the corporate and investment bank.
Shares of JPMorgan rose 1.24 percent on Thursday.
Mr. Zames, who had also been regarded as a potential candidate to be chief executive, said on Thursday that a feeling that he would not obtain that job was not a motivating factor in his decision to leave.
The executive has long been associated with crisis management. Mr. Zames worked as a junior trader at Long-Term Capital Management, the hedge fund that had to be rescued in 1998, before playing a leading role in JPMorgan’s emergency takeover of Bear Stearns in 2008.
He later recalled walking in to Bear’s Madison Avenue office tower late one evening in March 2008. Bear’s officers had realized that a series of client cash withdrawals had rendered their company insolvent, and Mr. Zames summed up the situation with some characteristically blue language, saying the “whole thing” was headed in a very bad direction. That office building, one of the most valuable assets sold to JPMorgan in its hasty purchase of Bear, was where Mr. Zames later worked.
He did his share of troubleshooting at JPMorgan, too. In the London whale episode, Mr. Zames helped unwind some exotic trades that had created billions of dollars in losses for the bank. He then took over the role of chief investment officer in 2012, reshaping the department that had made the risky transactions and marred JPMorgan’s reputation.
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