PLC said late Sunday its chief executive John Flint is out and new leadership is needed to meet the bank’s challenges.
The bank’s global commercial banking head, Noel Quinn, will take temporary charge of the CEO role while a search is carried out, HSBC said.
The surprise announcement came 18 months after Mr. Flint was elevated to the CEO role, as the top choice of the board under its then newly appointed chairman, Mark Tucker. Mr. Flint was regarded as a safe choice because of his decadeslong career at the bank, and he made few changes to the bank’s strategy during his tenure.
But his low-key style frustrated some, according to some people within the bank, and the board decided he had to go for HSBC to keep up and get ahead of business conditions and world events.
“We’ve made a decision by mutual agreement. In an increasingly complex and challenging global environment, the board feels a change is needed to make the most of the opportunities before us,” Mr. Tucker said in an interview.
In a statement, Mr. Flint, 51, said it had been a privilege to spend his entire career at HSBC, which he joined from college as a trainee on its international manager program. “I have agreed with the board that today’s good interim results indicate that this is the right time for change, both for me and the bank,” he said.
HSBC said Mr. Flint will leave his role immediately but will be available to assist HSBC with the leadership transition.
When he started as CEO in early 2018, Mr. Flint had been expected to ride a wave of improving profits as global interest rates started to rise and the world economy looked rosy. But those expectations were dashed as central banks began lowering rates again and geopolitical tensions roiled markets.
Parts of HSBC’s business have been under pressure from trade tensions between the U.S. and China, which has curbed trade and investment for some customers, albeit to a limited degree according to the bank. HSBC also is facing a potential deterioration in earnings in its British arm from the U.K.’s pending exit from the European Union, and has lagged behind on plans to turn around its U.S. business.
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