Earlier this morning we wondered whether it was too late to ask why Bank of America is even in the investment banking business. It's certainly not their core strength, and their reputation in the business is poor enough that they don't exactly attract star veteran bankers or recruits.
The increasingly snarky DealBook—which we suspect might be more profitable if it could convince the New York Times to spin it off as an independent entity under Andrew Ross Sorkin's direction—points out:
New York investment bankers sometimes refer to Bank of America as a “wannabe” investment bank, because its securities arm lacks the heft of its larger Wall Street rivals. On Thursday, Bank of America proved that its investment banking unit could mess things up just as well as the big guys.
With just $100 million in profits for the entire investment banking division in the third quarter of this year, bankers at B of A have to be wondering about their year-end bonuses. And, after hearing comments from B of A CEO Ken Lewis, they might be wondering if they'll even survive at their desks until the end of year.
“I’ve had all the fun I can stand in investment banking right now,” Lewis said in response to questions about whether the bank might undertake some kind of strategic acquisition to rescue it's flailing investment banking business.
Both DealBook and the Wall Street Journal's DealJournal are wondering aloud whether B of A might start to retreat from the investment banking business. It has spent the past decade trying to build the business but has been plagued by constant turnover. This latest debacle may force the bank to rethink its strategy. Indeed, when asked about cost-cutting in the investment banking division, Lewis said the probability of cuts was "very high." Dana Cimilluca writes that "layoffs loom large" for the IB division.
Since we often print rumors of layoffs, we might as well make it clear now that we haven't yet heard anything about planned layoffs at B of A. But we expect that this won't be true for long.
Not to be too mercenary about this, but if you haven't checked out our Career Center, now might be a good time. We've got at least nineteen new positions listed today in the investment banking category, and dozens more throughout the center. (Disclosure: We make money from that Career Center. It's totally free to you and is not exactly making us fabulously wealthy, but we skim something from somebody. We built the thing as a service to you but there's no use pretending we're not trying to make money around here. By the way, someone told us that the new Trump book is the best he's ever written.)
Will BofA Retreat From Investment Banking? [DealBook]
For BofA’s Lewis, Investment Banking Is a 4-Letter Word [DealJournal]