The exit of John Flint, who started at HSBC as a trainee, highlights tension with Chairman Mark Tucker known to be a hard-charging executive who was the first outsider to fill the post in the bank’s 154-year history.
Tuesday 06, August 2019
HSBC Holdings has abruptly ousted its Chief Executive Officer after just 18 months, citing an ‘increasingly complex’ environment, at the same time announcing a new round of job cuts, reported Bloomberg.
Flint and Tucker clashed over style—with the CEO focused on issues such as conduct and the Chairman taking a more data-driven approach and priorities, as Flint failed to address the slow-growth US business.
Tucker was also increasingly at odds with Flint over the CEO’s focus on expanding in China. HSBC was in an uncomfortable spot over Washington’s legal and political tussle with Chinese technology company Huawei Technologies, a major client of the bank.
US prosecutors drew on HSBC’s relationship with Huawei to build its case against an executive at the telecom company.
Tucker denied any personality clash with Flint or disagreement over job cuts, adding on a media call that there had been no pressure from China over the CEO’s role.
Noel Quinn, Head of Global Commercial Banking, will assume the CEO post on an interim basis, HSBC said along with its first-half earnings.
During Flint’s short tenure, the 235,000-employee bank and Europe’s biggest by market value, has grappled with a declining stock price, a high-profile sexual harassment case at its investment bank as well as a failure to hit cost targets leading to a new programme to eliminate jobs and questions from auditors about how these goals would be met.
HSBC, which makes most of its money oiling the wheels of trade between East and West, has also faced repeated questions about why a business heavily skewed toward some of the world’s fastest-growing economies cannot make better returns.
HSBC Chief Financial Officer Ewen Stevenson said that the lender plans to axe more than 4,000 posts, warning that senior executives will be a focus of the cutbacks.