(reuters) – Bank of America hires sales staff in latest effort to boost revenue

 (Photo by Jin Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
(Photo by Jin Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Bank of America Corp Chief Executive Brian Moynihan has been hiring more sales staff, in areas ranging from commercial lending to wealth management, in his latest effort to boost revenue that has barely budged for years.

The hiring push is part of a shift in how the bank is trying to sell more products to existing customers. Previously, Bank of America tried training individual employees to sell multiple products, but now it is focusing more on hiring specialized sales staff that can refer business to one another.

So instead of a bank teller trying to sell a branch customer a credit card and a mortgage, the teller might refer the client to a home loan specialist.

The bank has added some 1,000 financial advisors since the second quarter of 2014, and increased the number of sales specialists for products like mortgages and credit cards by 3.5 percent to 6,963.

On a call with analysts, Moynihan said that while the bank is still encouraging individual employees to sell different products, having enough sales staff is important as well.

“It is really just having more of them,” he said.

The bank’s chief financial officer, Bruce Thompson told reporters on a conference call, “Ultimately revenues are driven by the number of client-facing personnel that you have and how well they do relative to their peers.”

So far, these new hires have had a limited impact on results. The bank posted a tepid 1.7 percent increase in revenue in the second quarter from the same period a year ago. Quarterly revenue at the bank has hovered around $22 billion since 2011.

With weak revenue growth, the bank has been trying to boost profit by cutting costs. Overall, the bank is laying off staff. It had fewer than 66,000 full time employees at the end of the second quarter, nearly 10 percent less than the same quarter last year. Bank of America has a regular cost-cutting program in place it calls “Simplify and Improve.”

Spokesman Jerry Dubrowski said Bank of America has been steadily increasing its sales force for some time.

But that growth has not been uniform across all products. While the number of consumer sales specialists for products such as credit cards and auto loans has steadily increased, the number of financial advisors dipped from 2013 to 2014, then rose over the past year. Bank of America doesn’t disclose the size of its sales force for loans to businesses. (Reporting by Dan Freed; Editing by Dan Wilchins and Nick Zieminski)

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