A sweeping twilight photo of Guangzhou, a city in the heart of China’s Pearl River Delta region north of Hong Kong, adorns the first page of HSBC’s investor presentation which accompanies its third quarter results. The choice of image isn’t surprising: Asia accounted for 83% of HSBC’s pre-tax reported profits for the year to end-September, while the Pearl River Delta is core to the bank’s ongoing business pivot toward Asia.
Asian profits are also heading in the right direction – they’re up 19% year on year for the first nine months to $13,839m. But while HSBC is undoubtedly big overall in Asia, its Q3 results suggest some of the specific teams that are currently standing out from the pack in the region, particularly in Hong Kong. If you want to work for HSBC in Asia, these are the units you should apply to.
HSBC uses Hong Kong as one of its main centres for technology development, and it’s been hiring there, too. During the third quarter the bank “invested an additional $0.2bn in staff to support front-line growth and technology initiatives”, including in Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta. And in the year to end-September it made $0.4bn of investments in “digital capabilities”. HSBC appears to be building in front-office consumer tech – one of its strategic priorities is to use its increased digital spending to “deliver improved customer service”. HSBC’s second-half report, released in August, states that its Hong Kong-based PayMe app has acquired its millionth user and that the firm has expanded its use of Google Cloud technology, “increasing access to some of the leading machine learning and data analytics technology”.
Global banking and markets in China
HSBC has “made strategic hires” in global banking and markets, and continues to “invest in the securities joint venture in mainland China”, according to its Q3 earnings. The report is referring to HSBC Qianhai Securities, which was launched last December and was the first JV securities company in China to be majority owned by a foreign bank. Qianhai also hired new bankers in the first quarter.
Belt and Road bankers
Like many of its rivals, in particular Citi, HSBC has been hiring China-desk bankers and support staff in markets, including Hong Kong, which are likely to benefit from China’s Belt and Road (B&R) global infrastructure initiative. The bank recently opened new China desks in Thailand, Macau, Poland and Luxembourg, taking its total to 24, according to its 2017 results. In its Q3 results, HSBC has reiterated that B&R is one of its strategic priorities as it seeks to be the “leading bank to support drivers of global investment”.
Asian private banking (especially if you can cross sell)
Not an immediately obvious choice for this list: HSBC’s global private banking (GPB) division contributed only 1.6% of its pre-tax profits in the year to end-September, while Hong Kong-based private bankers suffered from lower brokerage and trading revenues. Nevertheless, HSBC is recruiting in Asian private banking, according to its Q3 report. “We continue to invest in our Asian franchise and are maintaining the hiring and investment plans to support the Asian Wealth Growth Initiative highlighted at the 2018 Investor Update.” HSBC announced last month that it wants to add more than 1,300 jobs in Asian wealth – mainly positions based in Hong Kong and Singapore – by 2022, with about half of these in GPB and the rest in retail.
HSBC's Q3 report also stresses that 60% of net new money inflows in GPB was from collaboration with HSBC’s other global businesses. Like their counterparts at UBS and Credit Suisse, HSBC’s private bankers are being encouraged to sell global markets products to their clients.
Commercial banking RMs in Hong Kong
HSBC’s Q3 report is unusually explicit about recruitment with its commercial banking division (CMB): “We have made relationship manager hires, primarily in Hong Kong and mainland China”. Within CMB, global liquidity and cash management was the standout team – revenue increased by $0.7bn (21%) year-on-year for the first nine months, “notably in Asia reflecting wider margins in Hong Kong”.
Wealth management in Hong Kong
Hong Kong is the best place to base yourself within HSBC’s wealth management unit, which serves customers not rich enough to get the private banking treatment. Year-on-year revenue growth for the first nine months reflected higher investment distribution income, “mainly in Hong Kong, driven by increased investor confidence in the equity markets, higher mutual fund distribution and higher wealth insurance distribution”.
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Image credit: anzeletti, Getty