HSBC expands Chinese fintech, wealth management operations as US sanctions loom

July 6, 2020.

is further expanding its Chinese footprint by creating a new fintech company and hiring a group of personal wealth advisers, a bank spokesperson told Fastinform on Monday.

The moves come as HSBC doubles down on growth in China despite mounting criticism from the U.S. and Europe for the bank’s support of a controversial new security law. The London-headquartered bank plans to cut 35,000 jobs as it scales back its European and American operations to refocus on Asia and the Middle East. 

HSBC’s newly hired wealth advisers will focus on customers in the cities of Shanghai and Guangzhou before eventually expanding throughout the country and region, according to HSBC spokesperson Ankit Patel. Patel declined to provide exact figures for expected increases in headcount, but Nikkei Asian Review reported that the bank has already hired 100 new wealth advisers. 

In addition, the bank is founding a fintech called HSBC Pinnacle Venture that will develop “innovative financial planning, wealth and insurance products” for use in the Chinese and Asian markets, according to the company spokesperson.

Pinnacle Venture will be led by Trista Sun, who previously worked for the bank covering markets including the U.S., U.K., Hong Kong and Singapore.  

“These new investments mark HSBC’s continued efforts to capture high growth opportunities in Asia, particularly in mainland China, the region’s biggest wealth pool and one of the world’s largest insurance markets,” said Greg Hingston, HSBC’s Asia-Pacific head of wealth and personal banking. 

“Our ambition is to bring together the full spectrum of our wealth capabilities to meet the protection and financial planning needs of mass affluent and high net worth clients and their families,” he said.

With $2.9 trillion in assets under management, HSBC is among the world’s largest banks. It currently earns 40% of its revenue and more than 60% of its profit from Hong Kong and mainland China, according to Nikkei. 

As HSBC expands its China footprint, U.S. lawmakers are taking action against banks in light of the controversial new security law, which severely restricts civil liberties in Hong Kong. 

On Monday, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a bill imposing sanctions on banks that do business with Chinese officials. Hong Kong previously enjoyed fewer restrictions on political speech than the mainland since the city’s return to Chinese rule in 1997.  

If signed into law, the U.S. bill could impact banks such as HSBC and , both of which have signaled support for the security law. 

In another expansion of its Chinese business, HSBC said in May that it would acquire the remainder of its Chinese life insurance joint venture, pointing to an “ambition to accelerate growth within our Asian franchise.”