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Lunchtime Links: Pity Ina Drew – she may simply have been politically outfoxed

Ina Drew

Ina Drew’s departure was reportedly a tearful affair. She’d worked at JPMorgan for 30 years, kept her head down, and – until April – been widely admired.

We’ve already looked at Ina Drew’s profile in the eyes of her former HR managers. Now Bloomberg has spoken to some of Drew’s former bosses and investment colleagues who offer further insights into the woman who’s taking most of the can for JPMorgan’s $2bn loss.

Drew’s success as a woman in banking can be attributed to her focus on profit-centres, suggests Dina Dublon, a former JPM CFO.  She was always straightforward and trustworthy, but didn’t suffer fools lightly, adds Austin Adams, a former JPMorgan CIO.

Most interestingly, however, Bloomberg suggests the loss may not have been Drew’s fault. Instead, it may have been down both to Achilles Macris, the head of the chief investment office in Europe, and to Jamie Dimon.

Under Drew, Bloomberg says JPMorgan took risks in a tightly controlled fashion.  Former colleagues said she placed strict limits on how much an investment could lose or gain. One former CIO manager in London said traders were required to exit positions if losses exceeded $20m.

Under Macris, who was hired by Drew in 2006, Bloomberg suggests this changed.  Macris led an expansion into derivative investments, let go of traders working in the CIO who specialised in vanilla products, and hired in new people with a background in hedge funds and more complex investing.  This all appears to have happened with the support and encouragement of Jamie Dimon.

This isn’t to say Drew didn’t have control over what was going on. Previous reports suggested she set the strategy for the CIO and she doesn’t appear to have been afraid to speak her mind. However, Bloomberg also reported yesterday that Drew was ill and out of the office for unspecified reasons for six months during 2010. During that time, Macris and Althea Durston (who’s since left the bank) assumed her duties and reported directly to Jamie Dimon.

In the circumstances, it’s not inconceivable that Drew could have returned from her illness to a situation in which Macris had generated handsome profits for the CIO (the chart in this article shows the first and second quarters being very healthy  – although it’s not clear that this was when Drew was off) and gained plaudits with Jamie Dimon. Maybe she was in no position to challenge the CIO’s strategy when she returned? Maybe Drew’s plight simply illustrates the importance of political clout.

If so, Drew can at least draw consolation from the fact that Macris is also being compelled to leave. She’s also reputed to be receiving a $32m retirement package, which will help.

Meanwhile:

Rob O’Rahilly will lead the firm’s chief investment office in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, while Christopher Chan will lead the office in Asia. Marie Nourie will take over the chief financial officer position within the global unit, and Chetan Bhargiri will serve as chief risk officer of the reformed group. (Dealbook)

Maybe the aggressive selling of protection we heard about in April 2012 was actually the unwinding of the hedge that had been accumulated in 2011 and was by then deeply underwater. (Felix Salmon)

Is JPMorgan playing the market? (TF Market Advisors)

In reality, according to friends and family, Mr Iksil is not a ‘larger than life figure.’ He rents a flat in Earls Court. (Daily Mail)

A corporate recovery expert working for RSM Tenon stands to earn £470k for six months’ part-time work. (The Times)

Deutsche has made five senior hires for its US equities business. (MarketWatch)

EU votes to restrict bonuses to 100% of salaries. (Bloomberg)

Macquarie has made redundancies in its Singapore fixed income business. (WSJ) 

Test: Are you a psychopath? (HelloQuizzy)

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