NEW YORK — Frank J. Petrilli, president and chief operating officer of TD Waterhouse Group, said Tuesday that the brokerage expects some of its financial associates will be let go soon.

He did not say whether that will happen through attrition or layoffs.

“We have 8,000 associates, but we expect to have below that by the end of this quarter because of the slowdown,” Mr. Petrilli said at UBS Warburg’s financial technology conference in New York.

He insisted that despite a faltering economy, consumers will continue to gravitate toward discount rather than commissioned brokerages. “We still get many more accounts from commissioned brokers than we lose to them,” he said. “The self-directed investing base will continue to grow.”

TD Waterhouse, which is majority owned by Toronto-Dominion Bank, will continue to prosper as a result of its extensive branch network and low customer acquisition costs, he said. The company spends $112 to acquire a customer, compared with $401 spent by CSFBdirect, $261 by Ameritrade, and $263 by E-Trade, he said.

Even though 75% of TD Waterhouse’s customers make transactions online, “our central linchpin is our branches, because they are low-cost sales and relationship outlets and a perpetual ad campaign,” Mr. Petrilli said.

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