Bank of America plans for more layoffs this year

Bank of America plans to continue cutting jobs after reporting in its year-end earnings statement that employment fell by 5,874 in the fourth quarter and 3,836 over the year in 2011.

The bank didn't say how many more jobs would go. Employment reductions are part of its plan to achieve $5 billion in savings by the end of 2014, under an initiative dubbed "Project New BAC." The firm is currently engaged in Phase 1 of the cost-reduction initiative, which began at the end of 2011.

Implementation of Phase 2 of New BAC is expected to begin this spring, focused on cost reductions in commercial banking, global wealth and investment management, global corporate banking, global markets and support areas. As it executes Phase 2, the firm expects to have a lower headcount base than seen through the implementation of Phase 1. The bank's total staff numbered 284,635 at the end of the fourth quarter and year.

Despite the overall reductions, the firm added staff in select areas. The bank added 1,700 financial advisers over the year, and also bolstered its ranks of small business bankers. In the fourth quarter, the firm added 214 financial advisers, bringing the total number of FAs to 17,300. Bruce Thompson, the firm's chief financial officer, noted that the hiring of FAs will likely slow through the coming year.

"Looking forward, we would expect muted adviser growth in 2012, based on economic conditions," Thompson said.

Bank of America will also continue closing retail branches. It ended the year with 5,702 branches, a reduction of 13 branches from the end of the third quarter, and a total of 154 for the fiscal year.

The bank posted an annual profit of $1.99 billion, or $0.15 per share, compared to a loss of $1.24 billion, or $0.16 a share, in 2010. Analysts anticipated a $0.15 per-share profit. The bank's revenue exceeded analyst expectations, rising by 11% to $24.89 billion.

Source: Fins