Stan Life ‘would support HSBC move from UK’

Edinburgh-based fund giant Standard Life Investments, a shareholder in HSBC, would support the global bank if it decided to move its headquarters away from London to avoid “ever-increasing” regulation and capital requirement reforms.

“I think a lot of shareholders including ourselves … if they did move, we’d be supportive of that, given the current situation in terms of regulation,” said Standard Life’s head of equities David Cumming on Radio 4’s Today programme.

“Given the situation, where there is no clear end point in terms of ever-increasing capital requirements … and the fact that we will see better growth, earnings and dividend prospects should they move unless the regulator changes tack … then logically we would be supportive of a move, if they choose to do that.”

Cumming added: “Obviously we need stress tests and banks should have prudent capital.

“But I think this ongoing process of … moving the goalposts and the financial policy committee coming up with new wheezes in terms of getting the banks to hold more capital — I think the banks are losing patience and I think HSBC, who could move, are very, very close to losing patience with this never ending process.”

HSBC has already said it is considering moving its headquarters out of the UK due to what it called the “regulatory and structural reforms” since the last financial crisis. Hong Kong could be the most likely alternative.

Standard Life Investments manages assets of roughly $380 billion and is a major shareholder in many companies. It owns about 1% of HSBC, making it one of the bank’s biggest shareholders.

The UK central bank, the Bank of England, is working on a new set of “stress tests” for banks, designed to ascertain if banks could survive the next financial crisis.