Move of HSBC’s top bosses to Hong Kong spooking its Greater China executives

Published (HKT): 2021.04.21 18:35

HSBC’s move to relocate top management executives from London to Hong Kong has stoked discontent among their counterparts in China.

Some senior executives in charge of Greater China operations were worried that their push into the Chinese market could be slowed by added bureaucracy and blurred reporting lines, given they had suffered a cut to the bonus pool after the bank’s losses in Europe, according to sources cited by Bloomberg.

The relocations will see the global heads of investment banking, commercial banking and wealth shifting to Hong Kong this year. Senior bankers were expecting friction with Peter Wong, the regional chief executive who had so far enjoyed a high degree of autonomy, the sources said, adding that Wong himself had expressed unhappiness about the cost of the exercise.

They also said that some staffers were encouraged by the relocation decision.

On a global call last Wednesday, Greg Guyett, the co-head of investment banking and one of those uprooting from Britain, volunteered the reason for his move, according to some of the conversation participants. He was quoted as saying that it was not because of poor management in Asia, and had emphasized he would continue to monitor Europe and United States operations as well.

Some on the call were puzzled by Guyett’s remarks, but others believed that he had intended to reassure staff and highlight contributions from Asia, the sources said.

Separately, HSBC Chief Executive Noel Quinn said in an April 14 memo that the Asia-Pacific was central to the long-term growth plans of the bank, and the relocation of top figures reflected its intention.

A spokesperson for HSBC reiterated that the Asia-Pacific was the focus in the long run for development in capital markets, commercial business, wealth management and personal banking. The relocation exercise reflected the importance HSBC attached to high-growth markets, the spokesperson said.

HSBC stocks closed at HK$45.20 on Wednesday, representing a 2% drop. It will announce first-quarter results on April 27.

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