HSBC is one of the world's largest financial services companies, with an international network that still spans 64 countries, although the bank has pulled out of retail banking in several under-performing territories since 2011. Until the 1990s the group was best-known as Hong Kong's biggest financial institution, originally founded in the 19th century to finance trade between Asia and the West. But a string of acquisitions around the globe, starting with the UK's Midland Bank, transformed the business into arguably the world's most broadly based financial institution, with significant operations on every continent. Purchases included US bank Republic New York and consumer finance lender Household International, CCF in France and Grupo Bital in Mexico, all absorbed into the main HSBC umbrella brand. Though less badly affected by the 2008 banking crisis than some competitors, the former Household operations in the US proved a massive drain on otherwise strong performance. A series of regulatory problems led to other concerns, and the bank began pulling out of less profitable territories to refocus its attention on Asia and only more lucrative international markets. Its woes were exacerbated during the Trump presidency by the US-China trade war, as well as turbulence in the board room, with several changes of both chairman and CEO. In 2019, CEO John Flint was ousted after just a year and a half in his role. Noel Quinn replaced him. Revenues for 2020 were $50.4bn (HSBC reports in US$), with net profit of $6.1bn. Total assets were just under $3.0 trillion. Global markets accounted for 40% of profits, and wealth and retail banking for just over a third. Despite the bank's broad geographical spread, Asia in general and Hong Kong in particular accounted for almost all profits. Though the UK operations remain buoyant, the bank's operations in the rest of Europe contributed sizeable losses. Most of the group's worldwide operations now trade under a uniform HSBC brand. There are a handful of separately branded local satellite businesses. One such is UK-based First Direct, which was the country's first and still the leading 24-hour telephone bank, with over 1m customers. The main HSBC UK retail banking business operates separately. It is one of the big four principal UK clearing banks, offering a full range of personal and business banking services. Globally the group is also one of the world's biggest credit card issuers, operating consumer finance operations for multiple third-party retailers. In the UK, for example, it operates Marks & Spencer's M&S Bank. However, it has exited this sector in some territories, not least the US, where it sold its massive consumer finance division to Capital One in 2012 for $33bn. It sold most of its remaining US retail operations in 2021.
Capsule checked 13th December 2019
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Historical profile information for HSBC
Adbrands Daily Update 27th May 2021: In a further scale-back of its international footprint, HSBC agreed to sell most of its retail banking operations in the US. It is selling or closing all but around 30 of its 140 remaining US retail branches. Citizens Bank will purchase around 80 East Coast branches, with a combined total of 800,000 customer accounts. Another ten branches and 50,000 customers on the West Coast are being bought by Cathay Bank. The remaining stores will close their operations to mass-market and small business customers and instead specialise in wealth management services for high net worth customers or corporate banking for companies with turnover above $5m.
Adbrands Daily Update 18th Mar 2021: HSBC is in exclusive talks to sell its loss-making retail and wealth management operations in France to private equity firm Cerberus. The US investor already owns the former GE Money consumer finance business in France, which now trades as My Money Bank. If the negotiations are successful, those two units would be combined, most probably under the My Money banner. [Updated: A deal was agreed in June, with HSBC transferring the business - including 244 branches and 800,000 customers - to Cerberus for just one Euro. It will register a loss of $3bn on the sale. My Money plans to resurrect the HSBC business's original Credit Commercial de France brand following completion of the purchase.]
Adbrands Daily Update 18th Feb 2020: HSBC announced wide-ranging cost cuts and restructuring plans in order to reduce its exposure to non-core markets and activities. The moves reflect the need to counter the significant impact on its core operations in Hong Kong from the recent protest movement and in China from coronavirus. As a result, the bank will scale back its global investment and commercial banking businesses, merging some back-office operations and shedding less valuable assets. That resulted in a $7.3bn impairment charge in 4Q 2019, and a group net loss for the quarter. In addition, the high net worth private bank division will lose standalone status within the group and is being merged into global retail banking. HSBC will also cut back retail and commercial operations in the US and continental Europe. The cuts will lead to the loss of around 35,000 jobs worldwide over the next three years, or around 15% of staff. Revenues for 2019 rose 4% to $56.1bn, but net profit plunged by over 40% to $8.7bn.
Adbrands Daily Update 24th Jan 2020: "Home". Richard Ayoade returns in another delightfully quirky film for HSBC by Wunderman Thompson. Just as its predecessors did before the Brexit knell sounded, the new film sets out to remind us that we are all from somewhere else. Yet the tone of the campaign has subtly changed as the debate over EU membership raged. The first two ads in the series appeared to emphasise our European connections; this and its immediate predecessor appear rather less sure. We are citizens of the world now, not of Europe. Still, the point is well made. Home, after all, is where the heart is, and Ayoade is as always a charming and engaging front man.
Adbrands Daily Update 5th Aug 2019: HSBC unexpectedly ousted CEO John Flint after just 18 months, following a steady decline in the bank's share price exacerbated by the ongoing trade war between the US and China. "In an increasingly complex and challenging global environment, the board feels a change is needed to make the most of the opportunities before us," said chairman Mark Tucker. Head of commercial banking Noel Quinn takes over on an interim basis while a search is condusted for Flint's fulltime replacement. The bank also confirmed it would cut around 4,700 roles worldwide, equivalent to 2% of its global workforce.
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