First Niagara Financial Group (FNFG) is looking for ways to cut costs to free up funding for fee-based services.

The Buffalo company has expanded its retail operations significantly in recent years, including its acquisition of 100 branches from HSBC Bank in May. But the $35.9 billion-asset company has also incurred higher expenses — including acquisition and operational costs — that have hampered its bottom line. On Friday, the company's executives said they were no longer caught up in the "distractions" of pursuing acquisitions, vowing to improve the efficiency ratio while turning to fee-income to boost revenue.

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