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Bank of America broke its hiring freeze and it was good

Bank of America had a pretty good Q1 and a damn decent Q2 this year. Today was its Q3 results day - so how did it do?

Pretty well, actually. BofA said today that its sales and trading revenues year-to-date are at their highest for over a decade, and that its third quarter equities trading revenues were at their highest level ever. It also had zero loss making days over the quarter. 

BofA's fixed income, currencies, and commodities (FICC) traders looked particularly impressive. FICC revenues at the firm rose 18% year-on-year in the first nine months. At Goldman Sachs, they fell 16%. At both JPMorgan and Citi, FICC revenues were flat. BofA clearly increased FICC market share, particularly in credit and mortgage products trading, which had a strong Q3. 

What's behind BofA's the improvements? It might have something to do with the fact that - despite having a well-publicized hiring freeze, it's been doing some big recruiting under head of markets Jim DeMare. The bank has declared it wants to be a "top three player" in European trading. It's doubled the size of the currency and commodities salesforce working with corporate clients in the past two years and hired 50% more staff across EMEA sales and trading. The expansion is alluded to in today's results, where BofA refers to “investments in the business, including people and technology.”  

BofA's investment bankers, who haven't benefited from an equal influx of new recruits, have had a more varied year. Equity capital markets (ECM) revenues are on a tear and up 50% year-to-date, compared to a 10% decline at Goldman. M&A revenues at BofA were down a mere 13% in the first nine months, compared to declines of 30% at Citi and GS. 

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AUTHORZeno Toulon

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