HSBC moves more top bankers to Hong Kong

Simon Foy
·3 min read
HSBC 
HSBC

HSBC is moving a raft of top executives from London to Hong Kong as the banking titan increasingly focuses on growth in the Far East.

In an internal memo, chief executive Noel Quinn said that four senior figures will relocate to the city in the second half of the year.

The changes, which were first reported by the Financial Times, show that the lender is pivoting even further towards Asia despite widespread Western condemnation for failing to challenge a Chinese crackdown on democracy in its crucial market of Hong Kong.

Those relocating are Greg Guyett, co-head of global banking and markets; Nuno Matos, chief executive of wealth and personal banking; Barry O’Byrne, chief executive of global commercial banking; and Nicolas Moreau, head of global asset management.

Mr Quinn, who will remain in London, said: "An important part of our global strategy is to base more of our leadership population in Asia, and so it is a logical step to locate more members of our global executive team in the region.

“We expect that some roles that work directly with Barry, Greg and Nuno will relocate with them to Hong Kong, but most will remain where they are currently based. Beyond that, we are not planning any large-scale movement of jobs from London to Hong Kong as a result of this decision.”

The transfers mean that divisions responsible for almost all of the 156-year-old lender's net revenue will be run out of Hong Kong.

The bank intends to increase its focus on wealth management in the Far East, where it already makes most of its money, and is seeking to become the leading lender for the region’s wealthiest residents. Bosses decided against shifting HSBC's global headquarters from London to Hong Kong following a review in 2016.

Markets Hub - HSBC Holdings PLC
Markets Hub - HSBC Holdings PLC

Mr Quinn has come under pressure from investors to accelerate his restructuring of the bank's global business, which has 226,000 staff and operations in 60 countries, after pre-tax profits almost halved to $12.1bn (£8.8bn) last year.

In February, London-listed HSBC said it would "move the heart of the business to Asia, including leadership", while shrinking its underperforming operations in Europe and the US.

HSBC cut back on top bankers in Europe last year. The number of staff paid more than €1m (£865,000) in the continent was reduced by 23pc as part of sweeping cost cuts.

The shake-up included plans for $6bn of extra investment in Asian markets such as China and Hong Kong over the next five years, defying critics who accuse it of becoming too cosy with Beijing after backing a crackdown in Hong Kong.

MPs and investors are concerned about HSBCs relationship with Beijing after it backed a controversial security law in Hong Kong which criminalises anti-government movements in the former British colony. The bank has also started freezing pro-democracy activists' bank accounts.

However, despite the switch to Hong Kong, Mr Quinn was keen to stress the importance of London to the business.

In the memo, he said: "We remain fully committed to the UK, both in terms of our domicile and our significant businesses and client base in the country."