THE coup that cost Michael Geoghegan his job was caused by a dramatic boardroom rift in a bank famed for its conservatism. While this kind of putsch might be expected at one of its rivals, HSBC is a gentlemanly outfit where decorum is all. No-one can deny that the bank has promoted two of its best to the chair and chief executive role. Few in the industry have a bad word to say about Douglas Flint or Stuart Gulliver. But the sorry episode has exposed some of HSBC’s failings. The top jobs should not be automatically handed to heir apparent candidates: no-one should feel they are entitled to any particular position.
Because while HSBC avoided some of the riskier activities that proved so toxic for its rivals, it still has much to do. Despite talking the Asian talk, it walks with a distinctly western swagger, garnering 44.1 per cent of pre-tax profits from Europe, the UK and the Americas (compared to just seven per cent for rival Standard Chartered). The new management team has its work cut out.