Big U.S. Banks’ Vows to Halt Job Cuts End as Virus Endures

One by one, most of the biggest U.S. banks pledged to avoid workforce reductions almost a year ago as coronavirus infections erupted in New York City. One by one, those vows have given way.

The news on Thursday that Bank of America Corp. is cutting some staff in its global banking and markets division marks the end of those assurances, while the international campaign to bring the virus under control continues.

Among the nation’s six banking giants, Wells Fargo & Co. was first to break with the industry as the second half of 2020 began, cutting positions amid mounting pressure to lower costs. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Citigroup Inc. followed.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. never promised to halt cuts entirely. And Morgan Stanley had said it would avoid them through 2020. That firm’s takeover of Eaton Vance Corp. is set to be completed on March 1, and redundancies are typical in any merger.

Bank of America’s reductions are part of Wall Street’s typical round of staffing changes around this time of year once bonuses are distributed, people familiar with the situation said Thursday, asking not to be identified discussing personnel matters. The cuts affected employees in sales and trading, research, investment banking and capital markets. A company spokesman declined to comment.

It’s not just the job-security promises Wall Street is abandoning. The biggest U.S. banks are also moving swiftly to end the work-from-home arrangements that emptied most of their offices through much of 2020.

“This is not ideal for us and it’s not a new normal,” Goldman Sachs Chief Executive Officer David Solomon said this week at an industry conference, referring to remote work. “It’s an aberration that we are going to correct as quickly as possible.”

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