HSBC sticks to plan for Asia wealth hiring after exits of key executives

HSBC said last month it's cutting more than 4,000 posts, with a focus on senior executives.
HSBC said last month it's cutting more than 4,000 posts, with a focus on senior executives.PHOTO: REUTERS

HONG KONG (BLOOMBERG) - HSBC Holdings is sticking with hiring plans for its wealth business in Asia following the surprise exit of two senior executives who pushed for the strategy.

The London-based bank is on track to hire more than 600 staffers by the end of 2022 for the business in the Asia-Pacific region, according to Kevin Martin, regional head of retail banking and wealth management. More than 300 are likely to be hired through this year within his division, which includes HSBC's Jade service that targets customers with account balances of more than US$1 million , he said.

The bank opened an outlet in Shanghai last month for its new Jade wealth program. It plans to open one in Beijing as well, and a few more in Hong Kong next year, Martin said. The focus of the hiring will be in Hong Kong, Singapore and China, he said.

"We continue to double down on Asia, pivot to Asia, grow Asia wealth," Martin said in an interview in Hong Kong. "That's exactly what we're doing. Nothing's changed."

HSBC has been through turbulent times since announcing a year ago it would add more than 1,300 positions in retail and private banking in Asia by 2022. Aside from the departures of chief executive officer John Flint and Greater China head Helen Wong last month, HSBC is maneuvering in choppy waters, with protests slowing Hong Kong's economy and trade tensions between the US and China remaining heated.

The bank, Europe's biggest, said last month it's cutting more than 4,000 posts, with a focus on senior executives. It employed about 238,000 people as of June, according to its interim report.

Driven by Asia's economic growth, revenue of the wealth business in the region, including insurance and asset management, increased 7 per cent to US$3.1 billion in the first half from a year earlier, according to an investor presentation. The group relies on Asia for almost 80 per cent of its pretax profit.

"It's a very positive story for us," Martin said. "We continue to employ the people, the customer growth is strong. All of the undertakings we made, we are delivering on."