(GS) The Goldman Sachs Group to Reduce Cost by Layoffs

According to The New York Times,The Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) is moving ahead with its cost cutting plan. The bank is expected to cut its expenses by $1.45 billion by the end of 2011. The cost containment measures would include significant layoffs and the amount expected exceeds $1.2 billion of costs cutting announced by the company in July.

Since June, Goldman has started cost containment measures through layoffs. During the same period, Goldman announced to lay off 230 workers in New York State due to economic reasons. The layoffs will be executed during the fourth quarter of 2011 and the first quarter of 2012.

Goldman’s New York layoffs represent less than 1% of its 35,400 employees as of March 2011. The layoffs would be in addition to the company’s annual retrenchment of workers, who perform in the bottom 5% or so. The current layoffs are estimated to be of 1,000 jobs, or 3% of Goldman’s workforce, which will cut costs by $1.2 billion.

In 2010, total operating expenses amounted $26.3 billion for Goldman. The completion of $1.45 billion cost cutting plan would reduce the expenses by 5.5% for the bank in 2011.

Further, compensation and benefits expenses form a major part of Goldman’s total expenses. In 2010, the bank’s total 35,700 employees received $15.4 billion in compensation and benefits.

In July, Goldman planned to cut costs by $1.2 billion, including layoffs and reduction of non-compensating expenses such as travel, telecommunications and market data, rather than lowering employees’ compensation.

In August, Goldman also planned to slash salaries of some London-based investment bankers in order to reduce costs. This move would put an end to the two-year pay rise deal agreed upon in 2009. Beginning 2012, Goldman announced it will cut London employees’ salaries in line with the current market rates, though employees will be benefited as the rates will not be as low as they were in mid-2009.

Among other banks, UBS AG (UBS), Credit Suisse Group (CS) and Barclays plc (BCS) also came up with the plan of retrenching hundreds of staff in their investment banking arms to rapidly bring down fixed costs in the current worsening markets.

Last month, according to the New York Times, Bank of America Corp. (BAC) also moved ahead with its cost-cutting plan. The bank is expected to slash its consumer banking costs by 20%, which would include significant layoffs. Last year, the consumer banking businesses incurred approximately $30 billion in expenses.

In July, BofA also planned to retrench 60 employees in its equity sales and trading unit. The decision was taken to boost revenue in the unit by lowering expenses.

The division, comprising approximately 2,500 people, plans to fire least-productive employees globally. BofA also announced jobs cut of approximately 100 employees in its consumer and small business banking unit as of March 2011. The layoffs are part of BofA’s ongoing efforts to overhaul its consumer banking unit.

Further, another mega bank, Wells Fargo & Company (WFC) has cut 49 jobs in its financial card collections department in Sioux Falls. In January 2011, Wells Fargo also announced to trim 120 workers in its student loan operations, including many in Sioux Falls, though the company planned to transfer most of the employees to other units.

In March 2011,Wells Fargo also announced that it will lay off approximately 200 employees, including 82employees in San Antonio, 30 in Addison and 67 in Bedford, Texas in its home mortgage division.

Wells Fargo employs about 13,000 people in metro Des Moines. The company’s Home Mortgage division, which is based in West Des Moines, captures approximately 25% of the U.S. home lending market.Wells Fargo also announced the elimination of 68 positions at a Vancouver call center, which supports collection of loans for Wells Fargo Financial division, the company’s consumer finance subsidiary. The action followed as the customers are paying down debt, eliminating the need for debt collectors.

Among others, earlier in August, Bank of New York Mellon Corp (BK) announced that it will slash about 1,500 jobs, representing about 3% of its total workforce. Further, on July 19, State Street Corp. (STT) stated that it would reduce 850 technology jobs through layoffs and outsourcing.

Many large Wall Street banks have started reducing their workforces to cut costs following the slowdown in economic and market activity. Further, some large Wall Street banks are laying off employees due to weak trading volumes and stringent regulations on some parts of their business.

Overall, until revenue generation revives, a hideous cost-to-income ratio will continue to force many more banks to reduce costs through job cuts as they need to maximize profits in order to boost capital ratios. Of course, everyone will now keep their eyes on the weak performing firms that have not yet announced job cuts. However, we also expect job cut announcements from many other banks, including Morgan Stanley (MS), in the near term.

We believe that the present job cuts will enable Goldman to reduce expenses, alleviating bottom-line pressure.The job cut initiative explains Goldman’s attempt to improve profitability amid revenue headwinds due to a weak economy and stricter capital requirements by regulators.

Goldman currently retains its Zacks #5 Rank, which translates into a short-term Strong Sell rating.

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GOLDMAN SACHS (GS): Free Stock Analysis Report

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WELLS FARGO-NEW (WFC): Free Stock Analysis Report

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