Firm Will Close 17 Branch Locations and Call Center

TD Waterhouse Group announced yesterday that it is closing a call center in Chicago and shutting 17 of its branch locations in a move that will eliminate 600 jobs, reducing the online financial services firm's workforce by about 9%.

The cuts are expected to save the company more than $40 million before taxes in the fourth quarter, after it takes an estimated $35 million charge in the third quarter related to separation, facilities and other costs, the company announced.

In addition, Waterhouse said it would cut 'other staff' but did not elaborate further. The firm did not return calls seeking comment by deadline. The cuts in staff were the result of diminished trading levels and investor activity, the company said.

Despite the cutbacks, Waterhouse will continue to service its clients in an efficient manner as a result of technological upgrades, said Waterhouse CEO Steve McDonald. 'Our technology investments are allowing the firm to do more with fewer resources before,' he said. 'As a result, we are confident that TD Waterhouse can continue offering customers the same high quality service they're accustomed to even if investor activity increases significantly from today's levels.'

The firm launched a cost-saving initiative in April called Project 200 which was designed to raise $200 million through cost-cutting and revenue-raising measures. However, the measures were not enough, according to McDonald. 'While we have made significant progress toward achieving the expense reductions outlined in the plan, including reducing our workforce through attrition, investor activity has continued to deteriorate,' he said in a statement. 'Project 200 alone will not be sufficient for us to reach our ultimate goal of realigning our expenses and revenues.'

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