London-headquartered HSBC bank is relocating four senior executives to Hong Kong as it seeks to extend its business reach in Asia, reports the South China Morning Post.
The widely anticipated move, announced on Thursday, comes as part of its strategy unveiled in February to seize more of the Asian market as the bank bets big on future growth in Asia.
HSBC’s strategy sees it ploughing some US$6 billion into shoring up operations across Asia, with a particular focus on targeting wealth management in the increasingly affluent region.
HSBC makes 90% of its profit in Asia, with China and Hong Kong the major drivers of growth.
Because of this, it has found itself more vulnerable than other banks to the increasingly fraught relationship between China and Western powers, especially after Beijing imposed a tough security law on Hong Kong last year and cracked down on dissent by citizens.
The lender also faced a backlash from shareholders in Hong Kong last year after it suspended its dividend at the request of its UK regulator as the coronavirus pandemic weighed on economic growth, with some investors calling for the bank to quit London in favour of Hong Kong. HSBC said in February it would restart its dividend.
HSBC chief executive Noel Quinn said in a memo to staff, “I want more of our global executive team to be located in key growth regions, and Asia of course is central to our future growth, investment and innovation. The move will also create significant opportunities for collaboration across Asia.”
While Quinn will remain in London, the chief executives of the bank’s global commercial banking, wealth and personal banking, and global asset management units as well as a co-CEO of the global banking and markets division will all relocate to Hong Kong this year.
Quinn insisted that London would continue to play a key role in the bank’s growth. He noted that a co-CEO of the global banking and markets unit will remain in the British capital and European financial hub.
Quinn said it reflected “the important role that London will continue to play as a global hub for client coverage, risk management and liquidity”.
He added: “We remain fully committed to the UK, both in terms of our domicile and our significant businesses and client base in the country.”
Founded in Hong Kong and Shanghai in 1865, Asia has always played a key role in the bank’s business.