There’s only one place to work in now at HSBC: Asia. The region made up nearly 90% of the bank’s profits globally in 2017, according to HSBC’s full-year strategic report.
But what are the standout jobs at HSBC in Asia? Its new earnings report reveals the functions that it's been expanding.
Expect HSBC’s investment banking hiring to focus on China, not Hong Kong, in 2018. In December, HSBC Qianhai Securities, the first joint-venture securities company in mainland China to be majority owned by a foreign bank, opened for business. HSBC didn’t break out 2017 revenues for the JV, part of its global banking and markets division, but headhunters in China say it will be recruiting for front-office jobs there this year. This chimes with the bank’s view that Qianhai provides it with “an unprecedented opportunity to establish and grow a securities business”. Qianhai already has licences to offer equity and debt sponsoring and underwriting, equity research and brokerage of locally-listed securities, and domestic and cross-border M&A advisory.
Qianhai Securities is headquartered in Shenzhen in the Pearl River Delta (PRD), one of China’s fastest growing economic areas. But it’s not just investment banking that’s fuelling HSBC’s recruitment in the region – the PRD is also the focus for its growth in mainland retail and commercial banking. Customer loans in the PRD rose by 23% year on year and the bank launched a $290m fund to support the tech sector there, according to its 2017 report. HSBC announced in 2015 that it would hire 4,000 staff and invest billions in the PRD, although it still faces strong competition from local banks.
Like many of its rivals, in particular Citi, HSBC has been hiring China-desk bankers and support staff in some of the markets likely to benefit from China’s Belt and Road (B&R) global infrastructure initiative. The bank won “a number of significant new business mandates” related to B&R, and opened new China desks in Thailand, Macau, Poland and Luxembourg, taking its total to 24.
Asia helped 2017 revenues in wealth management (which looks after people not rich enough to be private-banking clients) rise by 18% year on year, mainly because of increased income from insurance and investment-distribution products. The latter was driven by “higher sales of mutual funds and retail securities in Hong Kong, reflecting increased investor confidence”. The merry-go-round of “mass affluent” relationship managers in this sector shows no signs of abating as HSBC and rivals (notably Citi and Stan Chart) continue to hire.
Although global revenues in private banking fell 3%, Hong Kong was a bright spot, “due to growth in investment revenue reflecting increased client activity, and higher deposit income from wider spreads”. HSBC is not among the more aggressive recruiters of private bankers in Asia, however.
Not the most glamorous function at HSBC, but among the most stable to work in. Revenue in GLCM, part of HSBC’s commercial banking division, increased by $536m or 13% year on year, “notably in Hong Kong and mainland China, reflecting wider spreads”.
Current GTRF employees at HSBC may want to request a transfer to Hong Kong. GTRF was the only laggard within commercial banking (revenues fell 1%), but HSBC still managed to grow its market share in Hong Kong.
As we reported in August, HSBC is hiring more technologists, product managers, developers and content producers as it expands its digital-banking team in Hong Kong. Its 2017 earnings report reaffirms this “significant investment in digital transformation”, including the launch of a payment app in Hong Kong (PayMe).
One of HSBC’s success stories of 2017 from an Asian perspective, assets under management distributed in Asia were up 17% on 2016.
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