Monday 22 February 2021 7:30 am

HSBC to move top brass out of Canary Wharf in 'pivot to Asia'

HSBC will accelerate plans to increase its presence in Asia, as the bank prepares to shift some of its senior executives from London to Hong Kong, according to reports.

Chief executive Noel Quinn is expected to begin marketing HSBC’s “pivot to Asia” when he announces the bank’s 2020 earnings tomorrow.

Under the plans, a raft of top executives will be moved out of the bank’s Canary Wharf offices to Hong Kong, with further expansion expected in Singapore, Bloomberg reported.

Those executives are likely to include Greg Guyett, co-head of global banking and markets, Nuno Matos, chief executive of wealth and personal banking, and Barry O’Byrne, chief executive of global commercial banking.

Relocating the bank’s top brass would mean business divisions that account for around 95 per cent of HSBC’s global revenue will be run out of Hong Kong rather than London.

HSBC has received widespread condemnation over the past few months for freezing the accounts of pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong.

Quinn defended the decision when hauled in front of MPs last month, insiting that laws were needed to “stablise” the region last year.

He added that there was no situation in which he would pull HSBC out of Hong Kong, despite criticism from politicians around the world over its endorsement of a controversial national security law imposed by Beijing on Hong Kong.

The rejig comes just a year after HSBC announced plans to slash around 35,000 jobs over the next three years —equivalent 15 per cent of the bank’s total workforce.

Quinn told top managers at an internal HSBC meeting earlier this month that investment will focus on Asia in the coming months, as well as the UK and the Middle East.

He said the bank wants to become a “market leader” in wealth management, after slipping behind peers. HSBC’s private bankbooks after customer funds that total less than $400bn of client assets, while UBS Group AG, the world’s largest wealth manager, manages funds totaling around $2.6 trillion.

HSBC is expected to deliver a dividend alongside its annual results tomorrow, after it was blocked from paying out last year by the PRA.

The bank reported a 36 per cent drop in pre-tax profit to $3.07bn in the third quarter, while loan loss provisions increased to $7.64bn. Analysts expect total provisions for the year to come in at around £10.3bn. 

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