HSBC announced its financial results today. It will probably be attacked by many, so this is a defence.
HSBC is a very different animal to the other UK banks. It is still run by bankers, rather than former McKinsey consultants like Barclays. A good friend, working at Barclays, discovered that nearly all of the senior executives at Barclays HQ didn’t have a clue how the bank actually worked from an operational perspective, and couldn’t understand it even when it was explained to them (Indians do all the proper hard work now, while the execs play politics for their bonuses). While Bob Diamond at Barclays wanted to bankrupt the business by far paying too much for ABN Amro, HSBC concentrated on organic growth in fast-growing markets.
HSBC still trains its staff in banking and promotes from within. Yes, it would have gone bust if we had allowed the banking system to collapse, but that is the nature of the system (invented, incidentally, to ‘get rid’ of government debt by politicians) rather than a judgement on HSBC. Other than the purchase of Beneficial in the US, HSBC generally gets it right. We should be proud of having a decent, profitable, well-run bank, based here, paying tax here with executives willing to donate hundreds of thousands of pounds to charity.