HSBC’s Geoghegan warns of risk from uncertainty of UK regulation

HSBC’s chief executive said while Europe’s biggest bank was happy to keep its base in London, uncertainty about regulation and the business climate were risks to the city as a leading financial centre.

“Uncertainty is currently the biggest risk to the City’s competitiveness,” Michael Geoghegan, who will step down from the role at the end of the year, said yesterday.

Britain should adopt a “clear and consistent policy” on regulation and the business environment, he said in a speech, adding the country needed to support international banking and trade to avoid rival cities catching up with London as a financial hub.

Asked whether HSBC would move its headquarters to Hong Kong, Geoghegan said: “The board is more than happy to have its head office in London ... the best for us at the current time is to have our headquarters in London but to have a strong operation in Hong Kong and a strengthening operation in Shanghai”.

Geoghegan moved to Hong Kong earlier this year, fuelling speculation HSBC could move its base back to Asia in coming years.

His replacement, Stuart Gulliver, will also be based in Hong Kong.