HSBC's bid to make itself more profitable means further shake-up of top teams

Chief risk officer set to retire as leadership of its investment bank is to be split

FILE PHOTO: HSBC logo is seen on a branch bank in the financial district in New York, U.S., August 7, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo
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HSBC has begun to reshape top management, laying the groundwork for a new direction under its next boss.

The bank is expected to announce the retirement within days of Marc Moses, chief risk officer and board member, said people familiar with the matter. The qualified accountant is likely to be replaced by Pam Kaur, head of wholesale market and credit risk.

Meanwhile, the London-based lender has decided to split leadership of its investment bank. Gregory Guyett and Georges Elhedery will jointly run the unit once Samir Assaf steps down in the coming months, said people with knowledge of the matter. Guyett is currently head of global banking, while Elhedery runs HSBC’s global markets business.

The departure of Moses would mark the most senior exit from the business since the removal in August of former chief executive John Flint. He was pushed out by chairman Mark Tucker, who said the bank needed a change of leadership to cope with an increasingly complex business environment. Moses’s departure has been in the works since before Flint’s, and Kaur has been preparing to replace him for several months, one of the people said.

Flint’s replacement, interim chief executive Noel Quinn, is reviewing the entire business. Quinn has made a bid to get the top job on a permanent basis and is considered one of the front-runners for the post. Speaking in an internal video in October, he told staff that he was more than a “caretaker” chief executive.

“My mandate is to run the business not just as an interim CEO, but as the CEO of the bank,” he said.

A fresh strategy could see HSBC focus more of its resources on Asia, where it reckons it can make a better return on its shareholders’ capital. Tucker told employees at an internal meeting in recent months that more than 30 per cent of the bank’s capital was generating returns of less than 1 per cent, according to a briefing note previously reported by Bloomberg.

Quinn’s review is the third undertaken by HSBC in the last decade and the pressure is on the bank to deliver after its stock hit a 12-month low this week. The bank’s operations in the US and continental Europe are expected to bear the brunt of the cuts.

The lender has already signalled its intention to offload its French retail unit, which could take as many as 8,000 employees off its payroll. Equities sales and trading in France, Germany, the US and the UK are also likely to be scaled back, people familiar with the situation have said.

The bank is also under scrutiny by the Bank of England, which has warned for two years in a row that it has failed to tackle concerns about how it handles risks, including financial crime and staff conduct. Speaking to staff on a conference call last month, Assaf said that he considered the warning an emergency, according to remarks recounted to Bloomberg at the time.