Sunday 17 April 2016 1:39 pm

HSBC's chief executive Stuart Gulliver standing down in two years, with Axa's Henri de Castries hotly tipped as new chairman

Stuart Gulliver, the chief executive of banking giant HSBC, looks set to stand down from his role in two years.

The bank revealed in a letter to its shareholders last month that the new group chairman, who will be joining once current chairman Douglas Flint steps down, will be heading up the search for a new chief executive. 

The HSBC board is aiming to name a successor for Flint by 2017. Flint joined HSBC in 1995 and was appointed group chairman in 2010.

Although the HSBC letter gave no firm indication as to when Gulliver, who has been chief executive since 2011, would be departing, the Sunday Times reported this weekend that he could be saying his goodbyes in two years.

Read more: Former Standard Life boss David Nish to join HSBC board

Gulliver has been involved in a number of key decisions about the bank's future, including deciding keep its headquarters in London, during his time at the helm.

However, Gulliver's tenure has also been blighted by various scandals. Most recently, the bank was named in the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists' Panama Papers report, which pointed out that HSBC and its affiliates had requested more than 2,300 offshore companies for clients.

Read more: HSBC shares slide as it posts surprise dip in profits

The bank has since hit back at allegations that these structures were requested to help its clients cheat the taxman.  

The Sunday Times also reported that Henri de Castries, Axa's current chief executive, was hotly tipped as Flint's replacement.

De Castries, who first joined Axa in 1989 and has held the chief executive role since 2010, joined the board of HSBC as a non-executive director in March. In the same month, de Castries announced that he would be stepping down from his role at the French insurer in September. 

Read more: Most HSBC managers won't get pay rises in 2016

Axa has not yet responded to City A.M.'s request for comment.

HSBC will hold its annual general meeting on Friday in London, when shareholders will be invited to vote on a number of issues, including executive pay packets.

However, sources told the Sunday Times that, while there was a possibility of a protest vote on executive pay, many of their concerns had already been addressed through a shakeup to the pension scheme.