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Bank of America cut 7,500 jobs and no one noticed

When the banking job cuts of 2023 are reflected upon by generations to come, the cuts at Bank of America are unlikely to be remembered. It's Credit Suisse, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and Citi that have made the most noise about trimming heads in 2023. But it's Bank of America that has quietly cut the most.

In the first half of 2023, Credit Suisse cut just over 4,000 people. Between January and the end of September 2023, Goldman Sachs cut 3,200 people. Citi cut 2,000. Morgan Stanley said it was cutting 3,000 people, but its net headcount only appears to have dropped by 1,700. 

Bank of America? Bank of America cut 5,000 people, or actually 7,500 people when you consider that it also hired 2,500 students as per the chart below. 

Source: Bank of America 

At its peak, in early 2023 Bank of America had 218,000 people. Now it has 213,000, despite adding 2,500 campus hires. "Our headcount is now down over 7,000 FTEs from a peak in January, even with the addition of 2,500 college grads this fall," declared BofA chief executive Brian Moynihan yesterday. 

In fact, Bank of America may have cut even more than 7,500 people given that it's also been recruiting heavily in fixed income sales and trading in Europe.

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Who were these people that were let go? And how come no one noticed? A few BofA exits were reported: a small number of London investment bankers were cut in June; 40 bankers were cut in Asia in May; a head of equity derivatives trading disappeared in August. In the banking and markets businesses, though, it's all been very low key - suggesting that most of the cuts came in the more populous retail bank and elsewhere.

The cuts have also been beneath the radar because, technically, very few were actually cuts. BofA is still practicing its hiring freeze strategy and is mostly letting people leave without replacing them. Moynihan said the team has been working hard to "manage headcount down" in a world where no one wants to leave. People are being gently ushered out. This is why, while other banks are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on severance payments, Bank of America isn't talking about severance payments at all.

The non-cuts at Bank of America are likely to continue. Moynihan said yesterday that the bank remains committed to cutting another $200m from quarterly expenses. He added that it will benefit from "the third quarter headcount reductions" in the months to come. 

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor

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