First Union Corp. will eliminate the jobs of 80 middle managers in North Carolina who traditionally serve small-business customers.
The bankers, called city executives or market presidents, will be able to apply for a smaller number of jobs on sales teams.
The remainder of the market presidents, fewer than 20 people, may apply for other jobs with First Union, retire, or find a job elsewhere, First Union spokeswoman Sandra Deem said.
"For most people, it will just be a job with a different title," Ms. Deem said. "There will be very few people without a job in the end."
First Union's move is similar to steps undertaken by other regional banks that now want to cut costs to compete with ever-larger bank competitors and nonbank companies.
Ms. Deem said the move would not be duplicated outside North Carolina because the banks First Union has acquired in other states had slimmer management structures.
The extra layer of management separates customers from lenders and makes it harder for a bank to coordinate the sales process, said Charles Wendel, president of Financial Institutions Consulting.
"While those people do know the community very well, they are often not necessary or can move to a more profitable position," Mr. Wendel said.
The Charlotte, N.C., banking company employs 18,723 people in its home state.
The change comes two years after First Union formed its small-business banking division, which assumed many of the market presidents' tasks. Ms. Deem said the sales teams would do less administrative work.
In addition to their banking duties, market presidents often attended local Rotary Club lunches, served on chamber of commerce committees, and volunteered for charitable groups.
Ms. Deem said bank employees would continue the community involvement.