HSBC’s Hong Kong Office To Shift To Open-plan Desks
HONG KONG – A source revealed that HSBC’s main offices in the Chinese territory are currently being upgraded to cater to an open-plan configuration, but once the renovation is completed, some senior investment bankers could lose their private offices, reported Bloomberg on Tuesday morning (28 February, SGT).
While some bankers have warned that doing away with private offices could lead to potential confidentiality issues given that senior executives often talk about sensitive information with customers, the source said some private rooms will still be available.
The office design change echoes a similar move at HSBC’s global headquarters in London in 2021, during which the multinational bank axed its executive floor. Consequently, CEO Noel Quinn and other top executives had to share desks. Overall, the bank plans to slash around 40 percent of its global office footprint compared with pre-COVID levels.
Commenting on the move to renovate HSBC’s Hong Kong headquarters, a representative explained that the conglomerate is constantly assessing its global office footprint “to optimize space where appropriate” as well as to increase flexibility and provide more choice to their staff.
The reduction of private offices at HSBC’s offices in Hong Kong comes after a difficult 2022 for deal-making, which saw the bank’s total bonus pool fall to its lowest level since 2020, led by a decline in the conglomerate’s global banking and markets arm.
Expenses have been an especially tough issue for the bank, with major stockholder Ping An Insurance Group urging HSBC in 2022 to increase cost cuts. In a note published on 21 February, Morgan Stanley analysts noted that investors need “reassurance of cost discipline going forward” after the bank missed spending estimates in Q4 2022.
Last quarter, HSBC’s adjusted operating costs edged up by 2 percent, partly due to higher employee bonuses, and the bank forecasted that expenses could grow by around 3 percent in 2023.
According to the multinational bank’s latest strategic report, since 2019 HSBC has slashed its manpower by about 11 percent, branches by 21 percent, and office footprint by roughly 37 percent.
Furthermore, HSBC is seeking a new global headquarters in London that is smaller than its current main office in Canary Wharf by around 50 percent.