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Dissecting BofA’s Muddled Mortgage Plan

Bank of America is hiring – and firing – within its mortgage business. Sounds crazy, but it actually makes sense.

The lender cut 4,378 jobs in the first quarter, the most among the four largest U.S. banks. Many of the cuts affected workers who handle sour loans and foreclosures, according to Chief Executive Brian Moynihan. The need for these positions has waned considerably over the past few months as the housing market has stabilized. Delinquent mortgages have become much less common.

At the same time, Bank of America is investing in its mortgage sales business, adding loan officers and processors throughout the U.S. Company executives on Wednesday reiterated their desire to grow BofA’s new mortgage business, despite industry-wide decreases in profit margins.

"We don't see the [mortgage] pipeline slowing down," Brian Moynihan told investors.

Bank of America originated $23.9 billion in mortgages during the first quarter, dwarfing the $15.2 billion from a year earlier. Revenue generated from mortgages actually decreased during that period, though, from $928 million a year ago to $815 million this past quarter.

Bank of America was late to the refinancing party that took place over the last few years, allowing competitors like Wells Fargo to steal market share. Now, BofA is taking much of the business back – Moynihan believes the bank’s mortgage market share could rise above 10%. Whether profit margins will improve remains a question.

Where’s the Quality of Life? (eFinancialCareers)

If you’re an accountant, you likely want to work for one of the Big Four. Beware believing the grass is greener, though; your quality of life and work/life balance may suffer a bit, unless you work at PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Alternative Research (WSJ)

Many traders will soon have another toy to play with. Bloomberg just signed a deal with Estimize, an online research portal that provides earnings estimates and research from buy-side analysts and non-professional investors, rather than sell-side analysts.

Partner Feud (Bloomberg)

Toru Ueda, co-founder of now-defunct hedge fund Hachiman Capital Management, is suing his former partner, Yashwant Bajaj, for allegedly transferring funds that belonged to the pair.

More Capital Needed (Boston Herald)

Banks that own broker-dealer units should be required to hold more capital than is currently required, says Boston Federal Reserve President Eric Rosengren.

Talent Needed (WSJ)

Merrill Lynch needs better recruiters, apparently. The wealth management unit’s adviser headcount slipped again during the first quarter, despite efforts to attract new talent. Those that were there had a great three months, though.

Three for One Trade (Financial News)

Ronan Connolly, Citigroup’s head of equities trading for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, appears on his way out. Three current Citi executives will take over his responsibilities.

Goldman Goes East (Bloomberg)

Goldman Sachs has been approved to operate a private bank in London. Several current Goldman staffers have been given new titles to help run the branch.

Odd Rule Ditched (Bloomberg)

Morgan Stanley has reversed course on a company decree disallowing first-year bankers from talking with recruiters from other firms.

Buzz Around the Office

Explosive Sandwich (MSN)

A New York man was detained at John F. Kennedy International Airport last week after referring to his deli sandwich as “the bomb.”

List of the Day: Work/Life Boundaries

Work creeps into everyone’s personal life. Here’s how to keep it from controlling yours.

  1. Ditch the company-issued device.
  2. Take a day off once and a while.
  3. Plan (healthy) non-work-related events on weeknights.

(Source: The Daily Muse)

AUTHORBeecher Tuttle US Editor

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