Noel Quinn, Group Chief Executive, said:

“The economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on our customers has been the main driver of the change in our financial performance since the turn of the year. The resultant increase in expected credit losses in the first quarter contributed to a material fall in reported profit before tax compared with the same period last year.

HSBC has always been there for our customers in times of crisis, and we are working hard to support them during this unprecedented period of disruption. We do so from a position of strength, with robust levels of capital, funding and liquidity. The market-specific support measures that we are offering our personal and business customers have had strong take-up, and we remain responsive to their changing needs. We are also working closely with governments around the world to channel fiscal support to the real economy quickly and efficiently.

I take the well-being of our people extremely seriously. We have therefore paused the vast majority of redundancies related to the transformation we announced in February to reduce the uncertainty they are facing at this difficult time. We continue to press forward with the other areas of our transformation with the aim of delivering a stronger and leaner business that is better equipped to help our customers prosper in the recovery still to come.”

Financial performance (vs. 1Q19)

  • Reported profit before tax down 48% to $3.2bn from higher expected credit losses and other credit impairment charges (‘ECL’) and lower revenue. The reduction primarily reflected the global impact of the Covid-19 outbreak and weakening oil prices.
  • Reported revenue down 5% as a result of adverse market impacts in life insurance manufacturing and adverse valuation adjustments in Global Banking and Markets ('GB&M'), offsetting a resilient revenue performance, notably in Asia, Global Markets, Retail Banking and Global Private Banking ('GPB').
  • Net interest margin ('NIM') of 1.54%, down 2 basis points ('bps') from 4Q19 and down 5bps from 1Q19. We expect material downward pressure on NIM in future quarters as we incur the full impact of 1Q20 market interest rate reductions.
  • Reported ECL increased by $2.4bn to $3.0bn due to the impact of Covid-19 and weakening oil prices on the forward economic outlook and a significant charge related to a corporate exposure in Singapore. Allowance for ECL increased from $9.2bn at 31 December 2019 to $11.1bn at 31 March 2020.
  • During the quarter, lending increased by $41bn and deposits grew by $47bn on a constant currency basis. Lending and deposit growth included the effects of corporate customers drawing on existing and new credit lines and re-depositing these to increase cash balances. Deposit balances also reflected continued growth in Retail Banking and Wealth Management ('RBWM').
  • Reported operating expenses down 5% and adjusted operating expenses down 3%, despite continued investment, due to lower performance-related pay and reduced discretionary costs.
  • Common equity tier 1 capital (‘CET1’) ratio of 14.6% (4Q19: 14.7%), including the impact of the cancellation of the final dividend in respect of 2019. Liquidity coverage ratio (‘LCR’) of 156% (4Q19: 150%) and a deposit surplus – the excess of deposit balances over lending balances – of over $400bn.

2020 outlook

  • The outlook for world economies in 2020 has substantially worsened in the past two months. The impact and duration of the Covid-19 crisis will likely lead to higher ECL and put pressure on revenue due to lower customer activity levels and reduced global interest rates. We plan to reduce operating expenses to partly mitigate the reduction in revenue and we intend to continue to exercise cost discipline, while maintaining strategic investment. These factors are expected to lead to materially lower profitability in 2020, relative to 2019.
  • We have temporarily delayed parts of our transformation, including some elements of our cost and risk-weighted asset ('RWA') reduction programme, and expect restructuring costs for 2020 to be lower than indicated in our 2019 annual results.
  • We also expect mid-to-high single digit percentage growth in RWAs in 2020, including as a result of the effects of negative credit rating migration movements, impacting our CET1 ratio.
  • During 2020, we will continue to assess the impact of the Covid-19 crisis and review our financial performance and business plan accordingly. We will assess the appropriateness of our medium-term financial targets during that period, and will review our dividend policy at, or ahead of, our year-end results for 2020.

For further information contact:

Investor Relations

UK – Richard O'Connor
Telephone: +44 (0) 20 7991 6590

Hong Kong – Mark Phin
Telephone: +852 2822 4908

Media Relations

UK – Heidi Ashley
Telephone: +44 (0) 20 7992 2045

Hong Kong – Patrick Humphris
Telephone: +852 2822 2052

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