He was ready for the worst.
Mike Cavanagh, co-CEO of the corporate and investment banking businesses at JPMorgan Chase, was about to appear before an audience of investors and Wall Street analysts just one week before the bank's annual shareholder meeting.
Tensions were running high at JPMorgan. Several large pension funds had called for chief executive Jamie Dimon to be stripped of his position as chairman of the board of directors. The move was backed by influential proxy advisors. The media was having a field day, preparing to run features on the rise and fall of Dimon.
Cavanagh was speaking at the UBS Global Financial Services Conference at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Manhattan's Times Square. Right off the bat, his UBS host asked about Dimon's role and the many regulatory challenges that face the bank.
If you were in the audience, you probably thought that Cavanagh was dodging the question on Dimon. Most of his initial answer consisted of talking about the regulators. He waited last to address the shareholder proposal to split the CEO and chairman role.
"It is amazing ink has been spilled and coverage has been spent on this one," Cavanagh shared with the audience.
On this one? It was almost as if he couldn't bring himself to mention the looming threat to Dimon's position as chairman of the bank's board.