Who is John Flint? The new HSBC boss knows the business inside out

Insiders or outsiders? That has been the debate raging around HSBC since it emerged early last year that both Stuart Gulliver, its chief executive, and Douglas Flint, its chairman, would be leaving the bank in quick succession.
Critics of HSBC, as well as regulators, were keen outsiders take up both leadership roles to shake up the culture after a string of huge fines for money laundering and other conduct breaches.
But investors were not happy at the prospect of rocking the boat and ending the bank’s long-standing tradition of hiring from within.
In the end the City has got a bit of both. First came the big, external appointment – Mark Tucker, who ran Asian insurance giant AIA, joined the bank as chairman at the start of this month, the first chairman to hail from outside HSBC’s ranks since it was founded 152 years ago.
He wasted no time dealing with his first big task – appointing a chief executive – reportedly recommending HSBC veteran John Flint for the role on day one.
Who is John Flint? The new HSBC boss knows the business inside out

Mark Tucker, now HSBC chairman, is understood to have backed John Flint from the start

Bobby Yip / Reuters
Mr Flint is the archetypal HSBC lifer, having spent his entire career at the bank since joining the international management training scheme in Hong Kong back in 1998, rising up the ranks to lead its retail banking operations.
He was yesterday confirmed in the role after being approved by regulators. Mr Flint said he was “humbled … and enormously excited by the opportunity”. He will begin in his new role on Feb 21.
Long-standing investors welcomed the appointment, including Aberdeen Standard Investments, one of HSBC’s biggest holders with a 1.7pc stake. Hugh Young, head of Asia for the fund, said Mr Flint was well placed to ensure a “smoother transition and keep HSBC’s strong culture in tact”.
While HSBC never needed a taxpayer bailout in the financial crisis, unlike its fellow London-based giants Lloyds and RBS, it has had its fair share of scandals.
In 2012 it had to pay a $1.9bn (?1.4bn) fine to US authorities in a settlement over money laundering, with a US Senate investigation saying the bank had been a conduit for “drug kingpins and rogue nations”.
Who is John Flint? The new HSBC boss knows the business inside out

It has also been found to have mis-sold PPI products to UK consumers and been forced to reach a settlement for rigging foreign-exchange markets.
None the less, analysts believe the incoming HSBC leadership team can do better than the 8.8pc return on equity made in the first half of 2017.
HSBC is coming out of a period of extensive restructuring, including making more than 87,000 job cuts, exiting more than half the countries where it had branches and trimming down its investment banking division.
It will also finally writedown the last of its losses on subprime loans from its disastrous $14bn pre-crash acquisition of Household this year. With these problems almost behind it, the outlook looks decidedly sunnier. Investors will be hoping for even greater rewards from Asia, especially given Mr Flint and Mr Tucker’s extensive experience in the region.
Who is John Flint? The new HSBC boss knows the business inside out

HSBC's headquarters in Hong Kong, It makes more than three quarters of its profits in Asia

Bobby Yip
HSBC has strong growth prospects in the region and already makes more than three quarters of its profits there.
However there are still potential pitfalls on the horizon. The US Department of Justice could yet extend a deferred prosecution agreement with HSBC before it is due to expire early next year.  
The agreement was struck as part of the bank’s $1.9bn settlement in 2012. It also prompted Britain’s FCA to launch a probe into its anti-money laundering controls in February this year.
Then there is the small matter of Brexit to navigate, even if the group’s centre of gravity is moving East.
At the time of its interim results this summer it put the disruption costs of Brexit-related restructuring and transaction hurdles at up to $300m.
Paris has emerged as HSBC’s preferred location should it need to shift staff from London, with Mr Gulliver previously saying it could need to move up to 1,000 employees.
One thing is for sure – Mr Flint knows what he’s getting into.
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