Skip to main content
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

Step aside Jamie Dimon. The JPMorgan chief can usually be relied on for a feisty and fresh letter to his bank's shareholders – one that has come to be more closely watched than others written by his peers. Even Warren Buffett has showered praise on Mr. Dimon's epistles. This year, though, his efforts fall a bit flat. That clears the way for the pen of Robert Wilmers. The boss of regional bank M&T has a take on the state of financial markets that makes it the must-read missive of the season.

That doesn't mean investors should crumple or disregard Mr. Dimon's letter. His 38-page opus covers plenty of important ground. The sections explaining market-making and share buybacks are informative – but aren't necessarily new either. In fact, many of Mr. Dimon's musings rehash old ground, including his gripes about the Durbin Amendment, Basel III being anti-American and other regulation he has attacked in the past.

For those who like Mr. Dimon's traditional brand of fire, however, Mr. Wilmers is the place to turn in 2012. What makes the M&T chief's 22-page dispatch stand out is a thoughtful and at times blunt assessment of the industry – and beyond.

Story continues below advertisement

For one, Mr. Wilmers offers a sound defence of U.S. regional banks that will strike a chord in the era of too big to fail. He's no fan of Wall Street, deriding almost three decades of "a pattern of investing in areas where they possessed little knowledge," appearing to "seek dominance at the expense of leadership" and stating that they "continue to distort our economy." He even dug up some provocative figures to support his case. Take this one: The top six banks, presumably JPMorgan included, have been fined $47.6-billion (U.S.) for at least 207 transgressions since 2002.

The letter does at times read like a litany of complaints. Accounting, rating agencies, government-sponsored enterprises and regulators all come in for his scorn. But it all manages to come together as a well-made argument that greed and incompetence have undermined both trust and decent leadership in the financial sector. Mr. Dimon might not agree with all the points Mr. Wilmers makes. But he'll be hard-pressed to find fault with the tone.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies