James S. Crown: Director Watch Director of the Day

August 20, 2015

James Crown

Directorships: 2

Total director compensation, 2008–2014: $4,705,655

Average annual director compensation: $672,236

Average compensation per full year of service as director: $343,160

James S. Crown is the grandson of billionaire industrialist Henry Crown. Henry Crown’s story is a genuine tale of rags-to-riches. In 1919, Henry Crown founded the Material Service Corporation (MSC). The MSC made its money operating one of the nation’s largest limestone quarries, and during the Second World War, it took advantage of government contracts that allowed it to expand its mining into the coal industry. In 1959, the MSC merged with General Dynamics, awarding the Crown family a major interest in the company.

James Crown has benefited greatly from the success of his grandfather. His family still owns its interest in General Dynamics, where James Crown has been a member of the board of directors since 1987. He is currently the company’s Lead Director. He is also chairman of the company’s Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee, and a member of the audit and compensation committees. In these roles, Mr. Crown oversees any change in the company’s corporate governance, as well as the amount executives are paid.

From 1991 to 2004, Mr. Crown was a member of the board of directors for a company called Bank One Corporation. At the time, the Chicago based firm was the nation’s sixth largest bank. Bank One was eventually bought by JP Morgan Chase in 2004 for the price of $58 billion. Through the process of merging the two companies Mr. Crown found a place on the board for JP Morgan Chase, where he has been since 2004. He is currently the chair of the company’s Risk Policy Committee. As chair of the Risk Policy Committee, Mr. Crown is at least partly responsible for the loss of $6.2 billion of JP Morgan Chase’s money in 2012 in what is now known as the London Whale fiasco. This led ISS, a prominent proxy advisory firm, to criticize JP Morgan Chase’s board as being largely reactive, and to advise shareholders to not re-elect Mr. Crown. Mr. Crown remains on the board and as chairman of the Risk Policy Committee.

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