Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC) Q4 2019 Earnings Conference Call - Final Transcript
Jan 15, 2020 • 08:30 am ET
our clients, committees and teammates.
Let's start on slide 2; I'm referring to the full year results, excluding our third quarter '19 joint venture impairment charge. We generated $29 billion net income in 2019, a record for our company. That was 3% better than the prior year's results. We were also able to reduce shares by 9%, driving earnings per share, up by 12% for 2019. These results were driven by execution on all the pillars of responsible growth. We grew by serving our clients well and improved our market share across the board. We remain disciplined in our risk and our client selection framework. And by the way, our results are more sustainable, as our focus on operational excellence led to a 58% efficiency ratio in 2019, while making the investments we need to make. Our return on equity was 11% for the year and our return on tangible common equity was 15.8% for the year. Record earnings allowed us to invest in our client capabilities, invest in our people and invest in our communities, all while holding the expenses in check.
Take a look at slide 3; you can see the investments we made across all our constituencies and at the same time, we delivered strong returns for our shareholders. To deliver for our clients, we continued our investment in talent. In 2019, we grew the company by 3,600 teammates. Overall, we hired 32,000 teammates in 2019, including 6,300 new employees from low and moderate income neighborhoods, 4,000 college and MBA graduates, and we also completed our five year goal to hire 10,000 military veterans into our company.
We completed more than $3 billion in new technology code initiatives last year, betting on years of investments and award winning digital and mobile capabilities to serve our clients better and help our teammates to be more efficient. Most importantly, these investments are bearing fruit, as you can see in our customer usage numbers that Paul will talk about.
Just a simple example; we surpassed 10 million clients using Erica, our industry-leading consumer AI agent. We introduced Erica about 18 months ago, and now it's starting to reap the scale benefits. Erica is an example of billions of dollars of scaled innovation fueled by our work on operational excellence. These savings, generated by operational excellence, also enables to make capital investments in our company of $1.7 billion during 2019, for newer modernized facilities and other related priorities, and in the past three years, we've built 207 new financial centers and modernized more than 1,300. For our employees, we will start at $20 per hour minimum starting pay beginning in March. The costs saw all these enhancements incorporated [Phonetic] in our run rate of expenses, providing the capacity to keep investing in the future without increasing expenses.
Also for 2019, for the third consecutive year, we shared our financial success with our teammates, with special compensation awards to approximately 95% of them, Three years of special compensation awards, totaled over $1.6