When the HSBC Board announced last year that we were moving the Group Chief Executive’s main office to Hong Kong, it prompted a number of reactions. Some asked if it was a first step towards moving HSBC’s headquarters away from London. Some wondered if we were going to split the bank into two.
In fact, my move had everything to do with our Group strategy. At HSBC, we have long been convinced that the world’s centre of gravity is steadily shifting east and south. It’s a view we’ve held since several years BC – BC is after all ‘before the crisis.’ And, in my view, it is a shift which the crisis has just accelerated. We have now reached a point of no return. In a few years’ time, who’ll remember the G7? We’ll remember the E7 – China, India, Brazil, Russia, Mexico, Indonesia and Turkey. These are the ones which will matter.
My coming to Hong Kong tells you where we believe the future lies for financial services. We aren’t abandoning London. It remains an important nerve centre, for global finance and for HSBC. Three of my executive team are based there, along with three in Hong Kong. We aren’t splitting HSBC into ‘two banks’ either. But we do know that a global organisation in more than 80 countries and territories needs more than one ‘home’ – and, after all, we have been in our home of Hong Kong since 1865.