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Company history

HSBC was born from one simple idea – a local bank serving international needs. In March 1865, HSBC opened its doors for business in Hong Kong, and today we serve around 48 million customers in 72 countries and territories.

The experiences of the past 150 years have formed the character of HSBC. A glance at our history explains why we believe in capital strength, in strict cost control and in building long-term relationships with customers. HSBC has weathered change in all forms – revolutions, economic crises, new technologies – and adapted to survive. The resulting corporate character enables HSBC to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

150 years in videos

HSBC's 150 anniversary The opening of China

How Guy Hillier cemented HSBC’s reputation in China at the turn of the 20th century.

HSBC's 150 anniversary Local staff, local knowledge

HSBC staff from many different backgrounds have contributed to the bank’s success.

The war years

The conflicts of the 1930s and 1940s affected the lives of HSBC employees around the world.

Reinventing Hong Kong

HSBC played a key role in helping its home market to recover following World War II.

The HSBC Group: Our story The HSBC Group: Our story

How a local bank in Hong Kong grew into a global financial institution.

The HSBC Group: Our story Anniversary sculptures

HSBC has commissioned two sculptures to mark 150 years since the bank started trading.

Did you know?

  • HSBC's red and white hexagon symbol was developed from the bank's original house flag which was in turn based on the cross of St Andrew.

  • The HSBC lions are nicknamed Stephen and Stitt after senior managers from the 1920s.

  • The first business recorded in the first current account ledger is still a customer of the bank today.

  • The comic author P G Wodehouse, creator of Jeeves and Wooster, spent two years working at HSBC’s London office. He was recorded as being late for work 20 times in his first year.

More about HSBC’s history

HSBC's history HSBC's history

How a local bank in Hong Kong grew into one of the world's biggest financial institutions.

HSBC's archives HSBC's archives

Our archives reflect the bank's long and eventful history. Find out what's in the collections and how to access them.

Online gallery Online gallery

View the latest display of historic photographs from our company archives.

Frequently asked questions Frequently asked questions

Learn about the founding of HSBC, the significance of the lions and the origins of our hexagon logo.