The Wall Street Journal
By: Dan Fitzpatrick
October 14, 2010
Bank of America Corp. intends to hire 1,000 small-business bankers across the country in the fourth quarter of this year and 2011, a company executive said.
The bankers will go after small-business clients with revenues ranging from $250,000 to $3 million, said Joe Price, president of consumer and small-business banking. The first hires in the fourth quarter will work out of existing offices in Dallas, Los Angeles, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., supplementing small-business "specialists" who already work from the bank's branches. The specialists will continue focusing on businesses with revenues below $250,000.
Bank of America Chief Executive Brian Moynihan discussed the new jobs during a Boston speech on Thursday and addressed the bank's review of all U.S. foreclosures, saying it will take a "few weeks" to complete the work and that there is no timeline yet for lifting the bank's moratorium on foreclosures and sale of foreclosed homes.
"We're going back to recheck that we did things fairly," he said.
Once the review is completed, Bank of America will evaluate when to lift that moratorium, he said, speaking at the Chief Executives' Club of Boston luncheon held by Boston College.
State attorneys general across the U.S. are probing allegations thousands of home foreclosures were improperly handled, and other banks are also holding back on foreclosures or reviewing their processes.
Mr. Moynihan said he is "not concerned" these moves will destabilize the housing market.
The push for 1,000 new hires is one of the larger employment initiatives by the bank since the 2008 economic crisis. That year, it announced plans for 30,000 to 35,000 job cuts over three years as the Charlotte, N.C., lender absorbed New York securities firm Merrill Lynch & Co. and reeled from the U.S. slump.
The new employees will come "principally" from outside the bank, Mr. Price said.
The Bank of America executive declined to say how much the new people would be paid but noted the bankers would have wide responsibility when going after new business. They are expected to offer small businesses help with lending or cash-management services and do some "quarterbacking" if the client needs to go elsewhere within the bank for help, he said.
Bank of America and other big U.S. banks are under pressure to increase their lending to small businesses amid a weak economic recovery. During the first half of 2010, Bank of America said it provided $45.4 billion in credit to small and medium-size companies.
Delinquent loans from small businesses were one of the bank's many problems in 2008 and 2009. Some of the defaults were tied to a "Business Credit Express" program the bank launched in 2006 that promised big loans with little hassle. Entrepreneurs could borrow as much as $100,000 through an unsecured credit line even if they had been in business for just one day.
"We weren't happy with some of the results," Mr. Price said, and "we made adjustments."