Our performance in 2015 demonstrated the fundamental strength of HSBC. Targeted investment, prudent lending and our diversified, universal banking business model helped us achieve revenue growth in difficult conditions, while also reducing risk-weighted assets.
We started to implement the actions that we announced at our Investor Update in June to adapt HSBC to a changed external environment. Completing these plans will refocus the business for stronger, sustainable growth.
On an adjusted basis, we grew revenue over the course of the year. Global Banking and Markets performed strongly. Commercial Banking grew steadily in spite of slower trade. Principal Retail Banking and Wealth Management increased revenue following an excellent Wealth Management performance in the first half. Global Private Banking grew in Asia, but was down overall due to the impact of the continued repositioning of the business.
HSBC is better balanced, better connected and better placed to capitalise on higher-return businesses than it was 12 months ago
We continued to strengthen our compliance procedures and invest for growth, which contributed to higher adjusted operating expenses. Strict cost management had a positive impact in the second half of the year, however. HSBC is now a leaner business than it was in the middle of 2015 and we expect further progress on costs in 2016.
Loan impairment charges remained generally low despite an increase in provisions towards the end of the year. In total, we generated USD11.3 billion of capital in 2015, enabling us to increase the dividend and strengthen our common equity tier 1 ratio.
There is a lot to do to achieve the targets we set out at our Investor Update, but we have made a good start. Reducing risk-weighted assets (‘RWAs’) is vital to achieving a better return for shareholders. In 2015, we took action to reduce RWAs by USD124 billion, nearly half-way towards our target for the end of 2017.
We continued to redevelop our businesses in the US and Mexico. An increase in cross-border business in the North American Free Trade Agreement area helped to generate increased revenue, though we have further work to do to turn these important businesses around.
We are also investing in areas of the business that benefit the most from our unique international network and market-leading strength in Asia. This has helped us to increase market share in Payments and Cash Management, Foreign Exchange and Securities Services and achieve growth in excess of GDP in seven of our eight priority markets in Asia.
In addition, we continued to expand our business in China’s Pearl River Delta and signed an agreement to form the first majority foreign-owned securities company in mainland China. We remain the world’s number one bank for offshore renminbi services.
HSBC is better balanced, better connected and better placed to capitalise on higher-return businesses than it was 12 months ago. We are generating higher income from collaboration between businesses and our operating expenses and capital ratio are trending in the right direction.
The current economic environment is uncertain, but our diversified business model, low earnings volatility and strong capital generation give us strength and resilience that will stand us in good stead.