Even before the latest announcement by Citigroup, the company had reduced its total full-time equivalent headcount by 118,397 since the end of 2007, according to regulatory data supplied by Thomson Reuters Bank Insight. Like all large banks, the company is working to shore up its capital in order to eventually comply with the enhanced Basel III capital requirements, while looking over the shorter term for regulatory approval to begin buying back common shares and raise its dividend above the current nominal quarterly payout of a penny a share, following the next round of
stress tests in March.
Citigroup's efficiency ratio -- essentially the number of pennies of overhead expense for each dollar of revenue -- was a rather high 73.94 during the third quarter, although the results were affected by a $4.7 billion loss on the company's stake in the Morgan Stanley Smith Barney joint venture. The efficiency ratio has ranged has low as 63.14 over the past five quarters, according to Thomson Reuters Bank Insight. There's no doubt that the company would like to push the efficiency ratio lower than that level, and even though CFO John Gerspach on Wednesday refused at the Goldman Sachs Financial Service Conference in New York to provide a "near-term target," according to a transcript provided by Thomson Reuters.
Bank of America's third-quarter efficiency ratio was 81.32, as the company recorded $1.6 billion in total litigation expenses, after settling a class action suit related to its acquisition of Merrill Lynch in 2009, and also took a charge of $0.8 billion related to a reduction in UK tax rates. The efficiency ratio has ranged as low as 62.70 over the past five quarters.
Project New BAC began during the fourth quarter of 2011. The company's total number of full-time equivalent employees declined by 16,145 from a year earlier to 272,594 as of Sept 30. Bank of America said in its third-quarter presentation that it had added roughly 4,800 employees for its Legacy Assets and Servicing group over the past year, but also said that the group had "stabilized" and was "expected to decline."