HSBC Axes CEO Flint In Effort To Speed Growth

In fewer than 18 months, HSBC’s chief executive officer John Flint is out, The Financial Times reported on Monday (Aug. 5).

The surprise move is the result of differences over Flint’s strategy, someone familiar with the matter told the FT. Flint was less aggressive when it came to revenue targets and overhead reduction, the anonymous source said. 

HSBC chairman Mark Tucker, who appointed Flint as CEO in February 2018, said the change was strategically necessary in order to speed the progression of its priorities. 

Before becoming CEO, Flint, 51, was in charge of retail and wealth management for HSBC, Europe’s biggest bank. He was with the bank since 1989 and spent the first 14 years of his HSBC career in Asia.

“This was a unanimous decision of the non-executive directors,” Tucker said in an interview with the FT. “It’s the right time for change, and doing it clearly and decisively from a position of strength is very important.”

Noel Quinn, head of HSBC’s commercial banking unit, was appointed interim chief executive while a permanent replacement for Flint is sought. Tucker added that the search for a new CEO could take up to a year.

Although Asia accounts for 80% of the London-headquartered HSBC, the focus has most recently been directed at its underperforming U.S. business, the source said. The U.S. sector posted a 1.5% drop in profit in the January-June period compared to the half-year to December 2018. That missed U.S. goal is still below the overall group aim of getting to more than 11% ROE by 2020.

Earlier in July, HSBC introduced Next Generation Virtual Accounts for its corporate and institutional clients. The virtual accounts support cash and multi-currency management and will streamline multiple accounts and transactions into a single platform to support centralized payments and receivables for treasurers managing transactions across multiple and single entity structures. The virtual accounts solution also enables businesses to view transaction reports in real-time via HSBCnet, while also integrating with firms’ existing treasury management and enterprise risk platforms.