HSBC is one of the world's largest financial services companies, with an international network that still spans some 65 countries, although several under-performing territories have been exited 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. Later purchases included US bank Republic New York, 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 have 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 have been exacerbated 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 were $53.8bn in 2018, with net profit of $15.0bn. Profits are divided comparatively evenly between HSBC's three main businesses of retail banking, commercial bank and global markets, although retail banking is the largest by revenues. Despite the bank's broad geographical spread, Hong Kong alone accounts for almost a third of income, while Hong Kong and the UK combined account for more than half. 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 2011 for $33bn.
Capsule checked 13th December 2019
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Recent stories from Adbrands Update:
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.
Adbrands Social Media 23rd Oct 2018: Considering how it wholly dominates the daily conversation in Britain at the moment, Brexit is an issue that few advertisers have dared to tackle, presumably for fear of alienating one or other half of the country. One of the only campaigns to have dared in recent months has been the one J Walter Thompson London was running for HSBC with the wonderfully eccentric Richard Ayoade. This has seemed in the past to be solidly anti-Brexit, but with this latest incarnation - developed this time by Grey, though in partnership with JWT - we're not quite so sure. We imagine Brexiteers will be claiming it for their own with its promise of new horizons to be conquered. In truth, though, it's just pro-business. What's best for business is best for HSBC and the bank seems happy to let you make up your own mind about which side of the argument that might be.
Adbrands Weekly Update 17th May 2018: Ads Of The Week: "Connected Money". The fantastically oddball Richard Ayoade returns to front another excellent campaign for HSBC's UK retail banking business. We would love to hand all the credit here to agency J Walter Thompson London, but we suspect that much of the heavy lifting, at least in the script department, was done by Ayoade himself. He seems like the kind of performer you just point in the direction you require and then let him do his delightfully idiosyncratic stuff. Enjoy!
Adbrands Weekly Update 22nd Feb 2018: There were mixed results so far for British banks. Lloyds Banking Group celebrated what it called a "landmark year" with net profit up 41% to £3.5bn, despite setting aside another £1.65bn to settle complaints of PPI mis-selling. Total provisions for PPI now total £18.7bn. Total income rose 6% to £18.5bn. HSBC wrote off almost $1.8bn against loans to collapsed UK construction company Carillion and South African retail group Steinhoff and other provisions, and also warned it could face more than $1.5bn in fines for money laundering and tax evasion in its private banking division. Yet even with those exceptional items, net profit more than tripled to $11.9bn on revenues up 11% to $49.7bn. Barclays reported pretax profit of £3.5bn, up 10%, on revenues down 2% to £21.1bn. However US tax reforms and a large loss on the sale of its ABSA division in Africa resulted in a net loss of £1.9bn.
Adbrands Weekly Update 4th Jan 2018: Ads of the Week: "Global Citizen". The delightfully odd British comedian Richard Ayoade makes a superb front man for J Walter Thompson London's new Brexit-defying campaign for HSBC bank. A misguided 52% of the electorate may believe we would be better standing alone and apart, but at least HSBC recognises that we Brits are global citizens to our very core, even if we don't realise it. A fine ad, and a great (much-needed) return to form for JWT UK.
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