HSBC delivered a strong financial performance in 2017, with significant increases in the Group’s reported and adjusted profit before tax. We grew adjusted revenue faster than adjusted costs, and continued to increase our market share in strategic product areas.
We maintained one of the strongest capital positions in the industry, with a common equity tier one ratio of 14.5 per cent at the end of 2017. Over the course of the year, we also returned a total of USD3 billion to shareholders through share buy-backs and paid more in dividends than any other European or American bank.
The strength of our business is due in large part to the strategic actions that we first announced in June 2015. This programme concluded at the end of 2017 with eight out of ten actions completed on time and on target, marking the culmination of the most extensive transformation in the bank’s history.
HSBC is simpler, stronger and more secure as a result of this transformation, and better able to connect customers to opportunities in the world’s fastest-growing regions.
Cost-reduction programmes have enabled us to absorb the cost of growing the business, while improving the efficiency and security of our processes.
Our international network is delivering revenue growth above that of the global economy. Some 53 per cent of client revenue now comes from international clients, up from 50 per cent in 2015. Global Liquidity and Cash Management is playing a major part in the bank’s success, and Global Trade and Receivables Finance has extended its leadership of the global trade finance market.
Asia now contributes a larger proportion of the Group’s profits than in 2015, reflecting investment in growing our loan book and building our insurance and asset management businesses. We continued to expand our presence in mainland China, launching HSBC Qianhai Securities – the first securities joint-venture in mainland China to be majority-owned by an international bank – in December 2017.
Fighting financial crime
Investment in our financial crime risk management capabilities has considerably strengthened our ability to protect the integrity of the financial system. The expiration in December of the five-year deferred prosecution agreement that we entered into with the US Department of Justice in 2012 was an important milestone. Nevertheless, this was a product rather than the focus of the essential work that we have done to transform our compliance capabilities. Combating financial crime will remain a constant priority for the Group’s management.
As I prepare to pass on the stewardship of HSBC, I am proud of our achievements of the last seven and a half years and pleased to be handing over to such a capable successor as John Flint. I am grateful to my colleagues on the Group Management Board for their support since 2011, and to Douglas Flint and Mark Tucker for their backing.
Finally, my sincere thanks go to all of my HSBC colleagues around the world, past and present, whose hard work and commitment are the foundation of the bank’s success.