Not surprisingly, Bank of America said earlier this week that it would shutter its wholesale lending division in favor of a renewed focus on retail originations. From American Banker's Harry Terris:
Floyd Robinson, the president of the $1.6 trillion-asset company's home loan business, said in an interview Thursday that the move is driven by an assessment of the “competitive advantages we had in the direct-to-consumer environment compared to, quite honestly, not having a competitive advantage on the wholesale side.� B of A's ability to offer its flagship no-fee mortgage product, which it introduced in April, is based in part on the cost advantages of direct sales channels such as bank branches, retail mortgage offices, call centers, and the Internet, he said. Hence, making loans through brokers does not fit the product approaches B of A has pursued.
The move to exit wholesale will cut 700 jobs, part of the 3,000 BofA announced during its third quarter earnings release. BofA isn't alone here, obviously, with Nationstar exiting wholesale in late September, and HSBC exiting wholesale with the closing of Decision One. National City Corp. this week shut down its correspondent lending division, which had 100 employees, as well. While securitization is here to stay, it's clear that the game of risk here has changed dramatically, and a good-ole-fashioned focus on the retail channel has returned. Remember when nobody cared about retail in this business?