HSBC boss reveals surprise departure plans after ‘intense’ five years

The bank has begun the process to find his successor and hopes to make an appointment in the second half of the year.

HSBC chief executive Noel Quinn is to retire after an ‘intense’ five years in the role
HSBC chief executive Noel Quinn is to retire after an ‘intense’ five years in the role (Yui Mok/PA)

HSBC’s chief executive is to retire from the bank unexpectedly after an “intense” five years in the role.

Noel Quinn, who has been at the helm of the global banking giant since 2019, will remain in the post for up to a year until his replacement is found.

The company said it has begun the process of finding his successor and hopes to make an appointment in the second half of the year.

Mr Quinn said it has been a “privilege” to lead the business but that now is the “right time” for him to retire and lead a more balanced life.

“I never imagined when I started 37 years ago that I would have the honour of becoming group chief executive of this great bank,” he said.

“After an intense five years, it is now the right time for me to get a better balance between my personal and business life.

“I intend to pursue a portfolio career going forward.”

He said he made the decision after taking some time out over Christmas and first told chairman Mark Tucker of his plans in March.

He said: “I want to get a better balance for myself and my family and spend more time with them.

“It’s been a phenomenal 37 years with the bank, but in that 37 years I haven’t had much of a break. This is a chance now to have a break.”

He added that the next phase for HSBC will be a “multi-year journey” and that now is a “natural transition point for the bank” and a “natural transition point for me”.

Mr Tucker thanked Mr Quinn for leaving the bank in a “strong position”.

“Noel has had a long and distinguished 37-year career at the bank, and we are very grateful for his significant contribution to the group over many years,” Mr Tucker said.

“He has driven our transformation strategy and created a simpler, more focused business that delivers higher returns.”

It comes as the company reported first-quarter results showing pre-tax profits fell nearly 2% to 12.7 billion US dollars (£10.1 billion), as a hit from the sale of its Argentina business was offset by a gain from offloading its Canadian business earlier this year.

Despite the decline, profits were slightly higher than expected, helping shares lift 3% in Tuesday morning trading.

HSBC’s net interest income — the difference between what it generates from loans and what it pays out for deposits — fell by 3%, or 300 million US dollars (£239 million), to 8.7 billion US dollars (£6.9 billion).

The bank posted a 3% or 600 million US dollar (£478 million) increase in revenues, to 20.8 billion US dollars (£16.5 billion).

Mr Quinn said he is “pleased” with the company’s start to 2024.

“We completed the sale of our Canada business and agreed to the sale of our Argentina business, both of which allow us to focus on markets with higher-value international opportunities,” he said.

The group boosted shareholders’ returns on the back of the results, announcing new share buybacks of 3 billion US dollars (£2.4 billion) and a 31 cents (24.7p) a share dividend, including a first interim dividend of 10 cents (8p).

“Our good profit performance of 12.7 billion dollars (£10.1 billion) in the first quarter has enabled us to continue rewarding our shareholders,” said Mr Quinn.