The bank posted net income of $5 billion in the prior corresponding period, recent financial statements show. It topped M&A advisory tables during the first quarter, according to data provider Dealogic. But Cavanagh said overall M&A activity had yet to rebound. "Uncertainty is still there and we have active backlogs and pipelines," he told a UBS Global Financial Services Conference in New York on Tuesday. "Versus a year ago, the conditions for M&A are feeling better but while we had some big deals in the first quarter, we have not seen a broader pickup in the broader market," he said. Cavanagh cited the reasons usually given for why M&A should pick up -- strong corporate cash levels and equity markets, the challenge of getting and sustaining organic growth and diminished macroeconomic uncertainties. But, he said, "the one remaining factor is risk appetite. If you thought your way through the credit crisis you don't want to make a mistake -- so that is a counterbalance." Yet, with all Wall Street waiting for the outcome of the bank's May 21 shareholder meeting where an advisory vote is to be taken on separating the chairman and CEO roles for JPMorgan's chief, Jamie Dimon, Cavanagh had to spend more of his talk than he might have wanted on assuaging concerns about his employer's enterprise.
The executive said risk control and compliance was a "top priority" for JPMorgan, following its $6.2 billion of trading losses from the London Whale episode, as well as an inquiry from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which is alleging that the bank manipulated electricity markets.
More broadly, Cavanagh acknowledged competitive pressure across the securities services business for banks. This is the segment that provides custody, fund accounting and administration to institutional investors, alternative asset managers, and debt and equity issuers. "All clients in financial services want the same for cheaper or more for the same price," Cavanagh said. "So it's no surprise there is a steady pressure