Early next year Michelle Andrews is making what she describes as a “huge and exciting move” – and she’s already counting down the days.
Andrews, Head of UK Premier and Wealth Insights at HSBC, will soon be among some 1,000 staff and recent recruits shifting into the state-of-the-art new headquarters for HSBC’s UK ring-fenced bank in Birmingham.
What’s making Andrews so passionate about moving from London to Birmingham? For starters, she’s enticed by working in one of the city’s greenest and most innovative buildings. The 10-storey office, which overlooks Birmingham’s newly renovated Centenary Square, is far from your typical banking workplace.
“Employees were consulted about the design, which incorporates different spaces for us to collaborate or socialise in, and is also built around an ‘open work’ principle, with no fixed desks,” says Andrews. “This helps foster a non-hierarchical culture, and if you’re not always chained to the same desk, you can build rapport more easily with people across the bank.”
It’s not only the idea of working in a cutting-edge building that Andrews finds inspiring – she's also sold on Birmingham itself.
“I hadn’t spent much time there until recently, so I visited with an open mind. I was really impressed by how vibrant and busy the city feels,” says Andrews. “There are so many shopping, eating and entertainment options in Birmingham – most of them close to the new office – so I’m not going to miss London.”
Birmingham also makes sound business sense as the new headquarters of HSBC’s UK retail and commercial bank, which is being separated from the firm’s investment banking arm. “It's dynamic and entrepreneurial, is already the second city for UK financial services, and has radically transformed itself over the past 20 years,” says Andrews. “I can’t wait to be a part of that success.”
Andrews describes Birmingham as being at “the heart of the UK”. “HSBC wants to be the bank of choice in this country, and being based there means our staff will be close to the broadest possible range of our UK-based clients – both people and businesses.”
HSBC, which took over Midland Bank 25 years ago, boasts strong historical ties to Birmingham. It already employs 2,500 people across the city and opened its first branch there in 1836.
The bank is now investing more than £200 million in Birmingham, and when its new office opens in the first quarter of 2018 it will bring hundreds of new jobs to the city. “The good news, if you’re looking for a new role right now, is that we’re still recruiting for Q1 and we’ll need more people over the long-term as well,” says Andrews
Current vacancies for HSBC’s new head office span a wide range of fields within retail banking and wealth management and commercial banking – from customer service, business development and relationship management to audit, risk and compliance.
“We also need product managers and product developers to help enhance our customer proposition, especially within wealth, a part of the business we’re very committed to expanding in the UK,” says Andrews.
HSBC is hiring for analytical and data jobs, too. “Data analytics skills are hugely important. As we build this new office, it’s vital that we don’t just guess what our customers want,” she adds.
Andrews says all the new Birmingham jobs are “exciting opportunities for ambitious professionals, both in the UK and globally”. “We have already attracted people from London and from markets like Germany, Hong Kong and Singapore.”
HSBC is committed to recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce in Birmingham, says Andrews. “Diversity is especially important because the customer landscape in the UK is always changing and we must reflect that, as a UK bank in a major UK city.”
If you’re interested in working for HSBC, but aren’t sure whether you want to relocate, Andrews has the following advice: “Spend time in Birmingham, even before you apply, and come with no preconceived ideas. You’ll find that it’s a very green city – with about 600 open spaces and more canals than Venice – so it’s great for families. It also has three of the UK’s leading universities.”
You’ll also be impressed by the transport connections. The airport is just a 10-minute train ride from the city centre, while 90% of the UK business market is within four hours’ travel of Birmingham. Direct train services to London take under 90 minutes and journey times will be slashed to 49 minutes when the HS2 high-speed rail link is built.
Your commute to work is likely to be straightforward – HSBC’s head office is less than 10 minutes on foot from Birmingham New Street station. And if you’re relocating from London, you’ll enjoy the more affordable housing that Birmingham has to offer.
Once you join HSBC you’ll be working for a bank which “encourages high performance”, says Andrews. “We want to reward excellence and employ people who can set their own high expectations for their careers, supported by the great mentoring, long-term learning and competitive salaries that we offer.”
Flexible working is also encouraged at HSBC. “To give one of many examples, we offer part-time work for parents returning to us after the birth of a child. We want people to enjoy being part of this new office and to get a good work-life balance. And we want the office to reflect our brand, culture and heritage,” explains Andrews.
Andrews says moving to a new city and a new headquarters will help take her own career “to the next level”. “It will be the same for you, if you move here. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to join us right from the start of an exciting new journey for the bank in the UK, and to grow your career as we grow in Birmingham.”
Please visit HSBC's careers page to find out more.