HSBC’s Asian hiring drive beats its own expectations

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HSBC’s Asian hiring drive beats its own expectations

In HSBC’s global banking and markets (GB&M) business, the first half was skewed towards London, at least in terms of compensation. In wealth and personal banking (WPB), however, Asia dominated the firm’s H1 results.

HSBC hired 600 front-line wealth employees in the first six months of 2021, predominately for Pinnacle, its new digital financial planning platform in China. The unit took on 100 more wealth planners than expected, said HSBC chief executive Noel Quinn during his earnings presentation earlier today.

This suggests that HSBC is so far on track to meet its target, announced in March last year, to hire up to 3,000 wealth planners in China within four years as it pivots its business towards Asia and looks to tap into growing middle-class incomes on the mainland.

HSBC’s Asian affluent and high net worth (HNW) customer base grew 7% year on-year to 1.7m people at the end of June. Wealth revenue in Asia increased by 26% compared with H1 last year as Pinnacle was rolled out to five cities – Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Hangzhou – with more locations “in the pipeline”. Asia wealth balances now stand at $810bn.

“The benefits of our investment in Asia wealth were evident in the first six months of 2021 through strong customer acquisition, increased fee income and significant growth in wealth balances,” Quinn said in a statement.

HSBC plans to grow its Asian wealth franchise organically in Greater China, Quinn said in response to an analyst question. In the rest of Asia, however, the firm is also looking at three or four “bolt-on” acquisitions – in both the production and distribution spaces – in areas such as insurance, HNW wealth management, and asset management.

Across WPB globally, however, adjusted revenue of $11.4bn was $300m or 3% lower, as a decrease in personal banking revenue offset higher Asian wealth revenue. In global private banking, which is part of WPB and serves HSBC’s richest clients, revenue fell by 3% year-on-year for the first half.

If you want to succeed in wealth management at HSBC, you’ll need to work closely with colleagues in global banking and markets. Quinn highlighted strong “collaboration revenues” of $800m between GBM and WPB.

Image: unsplash

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