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Why HSBC wants to hire in Singapore

HSBC’s CEO Noel Quinn praised the ‘welcoming regulatory environment’ as he attended the opening of the bank’s new office in Singapore, which he regards as ‘a critical market.’

Quinn says Singapore will be a crucial hub for the bank’s ASEAN business as the bank looks to diversify its business across Asia-Pacific. HSBC is under fire from activist investor Ping An to break up and focus on APAC, where it makes the bulk of its profits at the expense of its European operations.

The shareholder pressure has come despite the bank announcing a ‘pivot to Asia’ two years ago. As part of this pivot, the bank is investing heavily in talent in the region. In a speech at the official opening of the new office in Singapore, Quinn said: “We’ve committed to investing $6bn over the next few years in Asia. 50% of that will be in this region – in the ASEAN region, in India. 50% of that will be in Hong Kong and China. So $3bn of the investment is going to be going into the market here in South and Southeast Asia. Singapore is a critical market for us, and it’s critical for us in two principal areas – International Corporates and International Wealth.”

HSBC wants to double its wealth business in Singapore by 2025, and is targeting double-digit growth in its local commercial banking business, according to a release. 

But it's also expanding in global banking and markets, moving its Southeast Asia markets team for rates and currencies and its book to Singapore, according to Bloomberg.

HSBC wouldn’t be drawn on how many staff it plans to add to its existing 4,000-strong workforce Singapore, but Quinn described it as “one of the pillars of HSBC’s growth strategy in Asia. A spokesperson told efinancialCareers that the bank will “continue to build our talent pool to support business growth in this region.”

In August, the bank hired Sandeep Pahwa from Barclays to the newly-created role of head of capital financing and investment banking coverage for South Asia.  Singapore-based Stuart Lea runs global banking for South-East Asia.

Other banks are also hiring in Singapore or moving talent there from other locations as they look to find new revenue streams and to rebalance their businesses. For example, JPMorgan has appointed New York based Sophie Qian as head of equity capital markets for Southwest Asia; she will relocate to Singapore later this year. Meanwhile Jwalant Nanavati is moving from his role in Hong Kong as head of the Asia ex-Japan technology, media and telecom (TMT) investment banking team for Nomura to run its Southeast Asian investment banking business.

HSBC actually opened its Singapore office in Marina Bay Financial last year, but the new premises have remained largely empty because of COVID restrictions. 

Singapore has moved faster than Hong Kong to open up following the pandemic, something which Quinn was keen to highlight.  “Singapore is a very welcoming market," he declared. "The regulatory environment here is excellent. It’s one of the most professional regulatory environments I see around the world. The quality of people, the quality of regulation, the quality of business here is first class. I want to thank the government for all that they do to create such a receptive environment for businesses to base themselves here in Singapore.”

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AUTHORDavid Rothnie Insider Comment

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