HSBC opened for business in Hong Kong and Shanghai in 1865. Since then, the world has witnessed many periods of political and economic turbulence but HSBC has grown and thrived, thanks to its ability to adapt. We constantly reassess how we can best serve our customers in meeting the challenges and opportunities of the times in which we live.
Today, a great shift in the world economy is well underway. Economic power is moving east and south; by the middle of this century the collective size of the economies we currently deem “emerging” will have increased five-fold and become larger than the developed world.
At the same time, patterns of trade are changing. In the future, faster-growing economies will account for an increasing share of the total of world trade. A significant proportion of this new commerce will be “South-South” trade among faster-growing regions – a modern resurgence of the old Silk Road.
We have a strong capital base, deep expertise in many fields of banking, and an unrivalled international network
As this shift gathers pace, HSBC is well placed to help businesses and individuals seize the opportunities. We have a strong capital base, deep expertise in many fields of banking, and an unrivalled international network with a presence in all of the world’s major developed and faster-growing markets. We aim to be recognised as the world’s leading international bank.
Financing trade has always been at the heart of our business. Our earliest customers were merchants looking to fund their trade in goods such as tea, cotton and silk. HSBC’s distinct capabilities are due in no small part to the strong relationships we build and our long-term vision; which is why one of the first businesses to open an account with us back in 1865 remains a customer today.
Since 2011 we have been implementing a new strategy, one that ensures HSBC has a strong and sustainable business model that best serves our customers now and for the future. To improve our deployment of capital we have reviewed the strategic relevance of each country in our network. For each business in each country we have assessed connectivity, economic development, profitability, cost efficiency and liquidity. We are also assessing each business against the risk of financial crime. As a result, we have initiated a number of disposals and closures since the start of 2011, exiting non-strategic markets and selling non-core businesses and investments. We are committed to growing the business and dividends, implementing the highest global standards of conduct and compliance, and streamlining our process and procedures.
Our commitment to traditional banking principles has served us well and will continue to do so. We have created a business that is diversified by customer group and by geography – avoiding excessive reliance on one region or one economic sector, while remaining where the growth is. We have put strong retail deposits at the heart of our strategy, avoiding reliance on the wholesale markets where massive changes in sentiment can take place very quickly. As our annual results show, the ratio of customer advances to deposits remains well below our chosen ceiling of 90 per cent.
We believe that the way we behave is central to our business. It determines whether we can attract and retain customers, nurture the best employees, meet the expectations of regulators, and retain the confidence and support of our owners, our customers and the communities in which we operate. Our financial position and our values helped us to withstand the latest financial crisis, maintaining strong capital ratios without having to ask for state support.
We are working to ensure that our operations meet the highest standards throughout our global businesses and we are driving a change in culture in our business so that our conduct matches our values. We expect all of our employees to act with courageous integrity and to be dependable, open to different ideas and cultures and connected to customers, communities, regulators and each other. These values form a key part of the annual performance review for everyone who works at HSBC.
We will continually strive to do the best for our customers, employees and investors, as well as providing a worthwhile contribution to those communities we serve. Having spent more than 30 years of my own career with HSBC, I feel very proud of the bank’s strengths and heritage. Our prospects are strong and I have every confidence that we can build upon our solid foundations to help our customers and our people achieve their ambitions.