Leadership

Why JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon puts work ‘literally last’ on his priority list

Jamie Dimon speaking at the 2017 Delivering Alpha conference in New York on Sept. 12, 2017.
David A. Grogan | CNBC
Jamie Dimon speaking at the 2017 Delivering Alpha conference in New York on Sept. 12, 2017.

JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon is the chairperson of one of the world's most valuable banks. But that doesn't mean he focuses all of his time and attention on work. In fact, in a wide-ranging interview with CNBC's "Squawk Alley," Dimon says his secret to a successful life is to prioritize his family.

"I've always said family first, country second, JPMorgan literally last," says the 62-year-old father of three. Though Dimon is quick to add that he enjoys his job, he says that his family has seen him through thick and thin.

"Without your family and the support of your family and what you learn from them in the good times and the tough times ... you may not have a great life," he explains.

Dimon's revelation may come as a surprise, given how much he's accomplished professionally.

After Dimon was ousted as chairman of Citigroup in 1998, he joined the embattled Bank One as chairman and chief executive. Within four years, Dimon managed to turn the company around and sell it to JPMorgan Chase in 2004 for $58 billion. This merger is what ultimately led him to become the CEO, a position he has held since 2005.

Now worth $1.3 billion, according to Forbes, Dimon has been dubbed America's most important banker. In 2014, CNBC called Dimon the most influential leader on Wall Street. The CEO's financial prowess has also caught the attention of business titans such as billionaire investor Warren Buffett and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

"If I were a big shareholder in JPMorgan Chase, I would just show up every Monday morning with like pastries and coffee for Jamie," Bezos says at a recent forum on leadership panel. "I think he's a terrific executive in a very complicated company."

Dimon is often credited with helping the bank navigate the 2008 financial crisis relatively unscathed and, under his leadership, the value of JPMorgan's stock has more than doubled, going from $48.07 to $114.07.

Last year, Dimon was awarded a 5.4 percent pay increase for his strong performance and JPMorgan announced in January that he will remain as CEO for another five years, making him one of the longer-serving CEOs in the field.

But even with all of his career successes, Dimon notes that he has always prioritized relationships with those close to him. In fact, his interest in banking came from his father and grandfather, who worked as stockbrokers. Dimon's father even worked for his son twice: First in 1996, when Dimon was the chairman of wealth management firm Smith Barney, and later at JP Morgan, where the elder Dimon worked until his death in 2016. Dimon's mother died one day later.

In Dimon's first CNBC interview after his parents' deaths, the banker revealed that his mother was very proud of him and always called or sent a note after each of his interviews.

When asked how he was coping at work in the wake of these losses, the CEO said that he relied heavily on his immediate family. "My family is very tight. And we were all there right to the end," he explained, adding, "I love my children, I spend a lot of time with them."

And it appears that Dimon wants his employees to do the same.

Over his 13 years as CEO, JPMorgan has increasingly backed family friendly programs. Some of these benefits include financial support for fertility treatment, childcare benefits and 16 weeks of paid parental leave to all salaried employees.

"I always tell people at JPMorgan Chase: You've got to take care of your friends, your family, your spirit, your mind, your body, your soul," Dimon tells "Squawk Alley." "Otherwise you won't have a fulfilling life, and those are important."

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