Bank of America Corp. is one of the largest financial supermarkets in the world. Based in Charlotte, N.C., it operates in 50 states and more than 40 countries outside the U.S. with offices in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America. It offers a full range of banking, investing, asset management and other financial and risk-management products and services, and it's one of the most active companies in wealth management, corporate and investment banking, and trading.
After swallowing broker Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc., now known as Bank of America Merrill Lynch, BofA became the biggest bank by assets in the U.S.
Besides Merrill, its acquisitions in the recent past have included credit-card issuer MBNA, private bank U.S. Trust (now U.S. Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management), LaSalle Bank and mortgage lender Countrywide Financial (now Bank of America Home Loans). The Merrill acquisition was troubled from the start and questions over the handling of Merrill's mounting losses triggered a number of investigations. Now Merrill is among the bank's most profitable units, and the tumult that resulted in an exodus of talent is considered largely in the past by many inside the bank.
After months of controversy that dogged former CEO Ken Lewis, the bank is getting a fresh start with a new chief executive, Brian Moynihan, who ran BofA's sprawling consumer and small-business operations and has a background in wealth management and investment banking. Moynihan, a lawyer by training and a college rugby player, has some big tasks ahead of him. Chief among them: shoring up morale and cleaning up the controversy over the Merrill acquisition. Bank of America paid back the government back for its $45 billion in TARP funds, freeing it from restrictions from the federal government's "pay czar."
Change has been one constant at BofA, which has seen its share of executive turnover and changes in strategy in recent years. A big challenge now is running the business with extra government oversight. BofA recently hired former Citigroup Inc. executive Sallie Krawcheck to run the bank's global wealth and investment management unit, overseeing Merrill's 15,000 brokers. It remains to be seen how Merrill's “thundering herd” get along with BoA's Main Street bankers. Bank of America is bracing for tough times ahead, with plans to cut up to 35,000 jobs in the next three years and possibly closing up to 10% of its branches.
BofA's investment bankers and traders will collect an average of $300,000 to $500,000 for 2009. About 25% will be paid in cash, with the rest coming as deferred payments of restricted stock or cash that will vary in value with company performance. For some executives, portions will be subject to clawbacks in the event of future losses. Deferred cash will be awarded over three years. The restricted stock will vest over a year and a half.
The banking giant sponsors employee networks for a range of community activities, ranging from public speaking groups to recreation activities such as company athletic leagues. Among the bank's tips for job applicants: Keep your resume to one to two pages, and send a follow-up letter after an interview. The bank says military experience "is embraced with enthusiasm."