HSBC to invest billions in tech to ‘simplfy’ its operations

PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday June 11, 2018. The lender said it will mean taking steps to turn around its US business, "simplify" the organisation, and invest �11.2 billion - 12.7 billion in "growth and technology". Photo credit should read: Charlotte Ball/PA Wire
PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday June 11, 2018. The lender said it will mean taking steps to turn around its US business, "simplify" the organisation, and invest �11.2 billion - 12.7 billion in "growth and technology". Photo credit should read: Charlotte Ball/PA Wire
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HSBC will “simplify” the business, invest billions in tech and turn around its US division as part of new chief executive John Flint’s growth plans.

The bank released a strategy update meant to get it “back into growth mode” on Monday, setting fresh financial targets that include keeping dividends at current levels and launching share buybacks.

Mr Flint, who was appointed earlier this year, said: “After a period of restructuring, it is now time for HSBC to get back into growth mode.

“The existing strategy is working and provides a strong platform for future profitable growth. In the next phase of our strategy we will accelerate growth in areas of strength, in particular in Asia and from our international network.”

An eight-point plan shows the lender will look to boost growth across its Asia business, complete the ring-fencing of its UK bank, boost its share of the mortgage market and improve customer service.

It is also aiming to complete the turnaround of its US business and gain market share across its international network.

The chief executive assured that the bank’s plans to “simplify the organisation” did not require a cut in headcount, but stopped short of ruling out job cuts completely.

“The reality is technology is transforming our industry in quite unusual and rapid ways. We have to be alert to that,” he told journalists on a media call.

“We did signal in the script that we will benchmark our cost efficiency against our peers and where we are inefficient we will have to work out solutions to get us back in line.

“So no plans at this stage for anything with respect to redundancies or retrenchment or anything like that.

“But HSBC will continue to evolve through this period because we will have to respond to the way in which customers are changing the way they interact with the bank, largely through technology.”

He also ruled out further UK bank closures, saying HSBC’s network was already reduced in recent years to the “optimal size”.

Mr Flint - who took the chief executive role on February - said HSBC will also be investing 15-17 billion US dollars (£11.2 billion - £12.7 billion) “primarily in growth and technology”.

Those plans are meant to help HSBC deliver a return on tangible equity (RoTE) - an industry measure of net profit - of more than 11 per cent by the end 2020.

In the meantime, HSBC said it expects to report mid-single digit growth in revenue between 2018 and 2020 and is likely to see low to mid-single digit growth in operating expenses.

HSBC shares were down nearly 1 per cent in morning trading.

HSBC is Europe’s biggest bank, but earns most of its profits from Asia.

Last year, it completed a corporate overhaul to raise profitability by focusing more on high-growth Asian emerging markets while shedding businesses and workers in other countries.

Last year the bank announced a raft of bank closures as customers increasingly move their transactions online.

The high street lender said it would shut 62 of its branches.

It said 90 per cent of its interactions with customers now came through digital - an 80 per cent rise on last year - while the number of customers using HSBC branches has dropped by nearly 40 per cent.