HSBC cuts 35,000 jobs, shrinks investment bank

HSBC Holdings said on Tuesday it plans to cut about 35,000 jobs over three years and shed about $100 billion in assets in a drastic overhaul as it shrinks its investment bank and downsizes its US and European businesses.

HSBC said it would merge its private banking and wealth businesses, eliminate European stock trading and cut its US retail branches as it seeks to remove $4.5 billion in costs.

“The totality of this program is that our headcount is likely to go from 235,000 to closer to 200,000 over the next three years,” Noel Quinn, interim chief executive, told Reuters. 

HSBC said the coronavirus epidemic had significantly impacted staff and customers in Asia.

Hugh Young, managing director at Aberdeen Asset Managemement Asia, one of HSBC’s largest investors, said: “In one sense, they are doing the things that were obvious and had been called out by many, so it’s good …

“Getting this done will require a fair amount of work, then we need to see how it settles down.

“Noel is doing a good job in very difficult circumstances.”

HSBC said profit before tax fell by about a third to $13.35 billion in 2019, way below the average estimate of $20.03 billion from brokerages compiled by the bank. 

That was due to $7.3 billion in write-offs connected to its global banking and markets and commercial banking business units in Europe. 

In the United States, HSBC said it would close around a third of its 224 branches and target only international and wealthier clients.