Tuesday, 5 August 2014

HSBC Still Doesn't Get It

You would not expect a conglomerate under heavy regulatory fire to use its latest results announcement to campaign against regulation. But that's HSBC for you.

Yesterday, the CEO complained that the group now spends $800m a year on 'compliance and risk programme', an increase of $200m, with more to come next year. In other words, even after years of scandals and massive fines, HSBC remains under-invested in compliance and risk controls.

Even more alarmingly, the Chairman says that such resources would otherwise be spent on customer-facing staff, who he says are becoming too risk-averse. But that's exactly what regulators, customers and taxpayers are afraid of - the biggest banking group in Europe spending an extra $200m a year selling toxic crap without adequate controls over an aggressive salesforce. 

Bizarrely, HSBC's Chairman is also pushing for the ring-fencing of the retail bank to be deferred at the very same time as a major Portuguese bank goes under.

Not a great attitude to regulation from the leadership of a bank that has 3 years to go under the deferred prosecution agreement it signed with US authorities for money laundering and sanction breaches - ending HSBC's involvement in $100bn worth of businesses. That's in addition to claims for market rigging, mis-selling PPI and interest rate swaps, not to mention it's starring role in the 'Magic of Madoff'

I can't imagine that Res Publica's Virtuous Banking report went down terribly well at HSBC HQ.

At any rate, with revenues already down 9% and pre-tax profits down 12%, in the year to June, you can expect a lot more bad news from these bozos. 

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