That helped lead to Bank of America and Morgan Stanley posting the first quarterly per-share losses this year among the six banks.

Dividend Impact

Slower revenue growth could hinder banks' plans to raise dividends. The six banks currently pay quarterly dividends totaling 51 cents, down from $2.49 in 2007. JPMorgan's Dimon told investors earlier this month that he hopes to raise his bank's dividend in the first quarter of next year, and Wells Fargo's Atkins said last week that an increase is a "top priority" for the bank.

Banks also may be forced to cut pay and headcount if the revenue decline continues. Goldman Sachs reduced the amount it set aside for compensation in the first nine months of the year, as did the investment banking divisions at Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan. U.S. securities firms may cut as many as 80,000 jobs in the next 18 months as revenue growth slows, bank analyst Meredith Whitney, founder of New York-based Meredith Whitney Advisory Group LLC, said last month.

The size of the biggest banks places them at a disadvantage to increase revenue relative to smaller competitors.

"Size is a problem -- there are four banks that are over $1 trillion in assets, and it's really tough for them to grow," said Thomas Brown, CEO of Second Curve Capital LLC, a New York hedge fund that focuses on financial institutions. "The smaller banks have other issues, but their growth prospects are much better."

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