HSBC is a multinational bank headquartered in Canada, London, and England, UK (Global Finance Magazine, 2012). Its products include wealth management, risk management, securities services, private equity, mutual funds, mortgage loans, investment management, investment banking, insurance, equities trading, credit cards, commodities, banking, and asset management (HSBC, 2022). The bank is registered as public limited company trading on the world’s shares market such as FTSE, Hang Seng, FTSE, NYSE, SEHK, and LSE. The bank employs over two hundred thousand workers. It has subsidiaries in Mexico, Sri Lanka, the UK, the US, the Middle East, Malaysia, Canada, the UK, Europe, Asia, Africa, Korea, Russia, India, and China. In 2021 its revenue reached a higher of US$ 49.552 billion, operating income US$ 18.906 billion, Net income US$ 14.693 billion, total assets US$ 2.958 trillion, and total equity US$ 206.777billion (Yuzo, Harry, & Rehan, 2022). In 2020 HSBC was voted the sixth-largest bank by asset and market share and the 40th largest public traded company according to Forbes News reporting’s.
HSBS means Hongkong and Shanghai Bank holdings PLC. It was founded by Thomas Sutherland in 1865 and registered in Hong Kong in 1866. The bank transferred its headquarters to London, officially opening in 2003 (Global Finance Magazine, 2012). It expanded to Europe, the UK, US, Korea, Asia, Russia, and South Africa by acquiring Marine Midland Bank, Roberts SA Inversiones, Republic National Bank, Credit Commercial De France, Demirbank, Grupo Financiero Bital, Household Finance Corporation, Banco Bamerindus, Korean AM-TEK, Polski Kredyt Bank, Bank of Communication of Shanghai, UK’s Marks & Spenser, Metric Inc, Iraq’s Dar es Salaam Investment Bank, Argentina’s Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, Chinese Bank of Taiwan, India’s IL & FS Investment, WestPac Custody, Singapore’s AXA Insurance, and L&T finance holdings.
The bank suffered losses by acquiring non-performing banks and involving in money laundering cases forcing it to pay hefty fines to the US and close down subsidiaries (HSBC, 2022). In 2020 it adopted a zero-carbon emission policy and began corporations with free carbon emission agencies. The company also paid fines for tax avoidance schemes, Forex scandals, data infringements, racism reports, and housing crises. It has been chaired by William Purves, John Bond, Lord Green, and the current Sir Douglas Flint. Its list of chief executives includes William Purves, John Bond, Keith Whitson, Lord Green, Michael Geoghegan, Stuart Gulliver, and John Flint.
HSBC’s Vision is to be the leading International Bank. The mission is to grow by connecting customers to opportunities, enabling businesses and economies to prosper, thrive, and help people fulfil their ambitions, dreams, and hopes (HSBC-PLC, 2022). The company strives to meet customers’ expectations through maintaining the number one position, respecting customer wishes, better products and services, and taking responsibility for their actions. Mainly, HSBC stands firm and committed to the rights of its clients. It holds values such as open communication, transparency, honesty, inclusivity, and fair treatment in the workplace (HSBC PLC, 2020). It is aware of external issues and challenges and grows through collaboration, partnership, acquisitions, and building connections. Consequently, the bank remains responsive, supportive, and respectful to customer demands.
HSBC faces several issues, including money laundering, US senate investigations, FinCEN case, Forex scandals, Tax fraud, Tax avoidance cases, $3.5 billion currency scandals, Housing crisis fines, US-China political issues, Iran sanctions-related case, data loss cases, hacking and cyber security issues, deforestation case, and many more.
In money laundering, the US accused HSBC of failing to report money laundering activities, failing to access suspected clients before opening accounts, failing to monitor suspected bank wire transfers, and unqualified staff and leadership. The whistleblower reported a case where HSBC created offshore accounts in Jersey for suspected drug dealers and money laundering. In 2013 Argentina’s tax authority accused HSBS of faking receipts to evade taxes. In 2015 Geneva authorities fined the bank $ 40 million for money laundering associated with its Swiss subsidiary (Hill, 2017). In 2018 HSBC was fined 15 million rands by South African authorities for the weak structure to detect money laundering (CPI, 2020). In 2021 HSBC was fined $85 million by British authorities for failing its anti-money laundering framework for eight years.
In 2012 US accused HSBC of assisting North Korea and Iran to avoid nuclear weapons sanctions and was penalized $1.9 billion against Bank Secrecy Act (Mathew, 2015). It was accused of assisting Sudan and Iran avoids economic sanctions and drug money laundering with Mexicans, such as Sinaloa Cartels (Treanor, 2016). FinCEN files indicated HSBC was involved in Ponzi schemes, government corruption, drug money trafficking, and other financial crimes between 2010 and 2016 (Cherkasky, 2021). The bank paid $2.2 million for Euribor, $ 18 million for the LIBOR scandal, and $275 million for the Forex scandal (CFTC, 2014). In 2017 HSBC paid French $352 million and $192 million to the US for involvement in tax avoidance schemes (Hamish, 2019). The bank’s former head Peter Braunwalder received a one-year jail term and a fine of $560,000 for helping clients hide over $1.8 billion in tax fraud.
Stuart and Johnson HSBC officials were charged for alleged $3.5 billion scandals over manipulating HSBC forex exchange activities to benefit themselves and the bank (Jill, 2016). HSBC paid the US $765 million fines for mis-sold residential mortgage securities between 2005 and 2007 (Trefis Team, 2018). From 2020 the bank was involved in china politics, supported Beijing’s national security law, and several foreign accounts for pro-democracy activities, including Good Neighbour North District church, Ted Hui, Jimmy Lai, and many more (Harry & Alfred, 2020). In 2018 HSBC was fined $ 3 million by the financial services authority for losing unencrypted disc containing data of more than 370,000 customers (Jill, 2009). HSBC was accused of breaching economic sanctions against Iran for facilitating transactions between Iran and Huawei between 2009 and 2014.
Global Witness Greenpeace authorities accused the bank of supporting deforestation and Malaysia timber farmers, and Indonesia palm oil new plantation activities (The Economist, 2012). In 2020 it paid customers $2.4 million against spam phone calls (Maynard, 2020). In 2015 the bank made losses from failing to process payments for house purchases, salaries, and homecare related to BACS.
Macro-environmental factors of the economy affect HSBC’s finances and operations besides market forces. These outside forces affect the company’s operations, revenues, and profit directly or indirectly (Drobyazko et al., 2019). For example, a baking instructions’ macro-environment is normally affected by inflation, GDP, consumer spending, and monetary policies. Mainly, macro-environment factors include political, economic, social, technological, financial, legal, and environmental factors. Similarly, HSBC analysis examines industry conditions, substitute products, supplier and buyer bargaining power, new entrants’ threat, and competitors’ rivalry. In a company within the banking sector like HSBC, macro-environmental factors affect its overall performance in the market.
Political stability is a crucial element that significantly determines the effectiveness and performance of a business. Progressive studies have shown that politics plays a vital role in ensuring that established businesses run smoothly (Drobyazko et al., 2019). In the context of HSBC, the company has maintained its core competencies in the market because the UK, Europe, India, Africa, US, and China markets have provided a favourable political climate regarding business taxes and regulations. However, there have been growing concerns about corruption, money laundering, forex scandals, tax evasion and avoidance schemes, and the establishment of anti-money laundering, terrorist, and nuclear-arms regulatory policies that limited the company’s operations in Iran, Sudan, Mexico, and South Africa, UK, US, and Europe subsidiaries.
In addition, to some extent, trade regulations and tariffs have limited the company’s growth, which has affected the company’s share prices and trading. Higher tariffs usually increase the exchange rates because the charges are transferred to the consumer, making it challenging to compete with local banks. Political temperatures between US and China, Iran, Hauwei, and the US have damaged the business image concerning supporting China National Security laws and losses concerning fines for transacting businesses in Iran against US sanctions (Harry & Alfred, 2020). Brexit forces the bank to lose $ 4 million in costs associated with exiting the UK market; moreover, it has to relocate more than 1000 workers from London to Paris (Morris, 2017). It plans to move part of its investment to Paris and avoid more than $1 billion in losses.
An overview of the company recordings shows that HSBC has expanded over the past decade to larger economies like the US, the UK and Europe; the company transferred its headquarters from
China to London acquired several competitors and witnessed tremendous growth. However, most economies have been adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic (N’asturianu, 2020). Most states enforced lockdown policies that significantly affected the productivity of most companies due to the pandemic. Supply chain companies were among the most affected because they imposed strict guidelines that limited the flow of factors of production and other products from country to country. Primarily, the economic factors that the company concentrates on are Inflation, GDP, Foreign exchange risk, and Competition. In 2021 its revenue reached a higher of US$ 49.552 billion, Net income US$ 14.693 billion, operating income US$ 18.906 billion, total equity US$ 206.777billion and total assets US$ 2.958 trillion (Yuzo, Harry, & Rehan, 2022). The company maintained higher performance amid changes in foreign exchange and increasing inflation to reach the top sixth-largest company by assets and 40th largest public traded company.
Social factors like population size, community cultures, and stipulated gender roles significantly affect the performance of a business in an economy. Hence, culture, preferences, customer attitudes, religion, education levels, and age groups impact the company’s choice of services and products (Elena, 2020). More people are embracing the use of modern technology and remote working, particularly the utilization of mobile phones. For a company like HSBC, this information suggests a growing demand for their products as more people embrace using bank products such as forex trading and bank wire transfers (Drobyazko et al., 2019). In the context of population, there has been a notable population growth which increased demand. In addition, most cultures across the globe are embracing the use of modern technology, particularly those that facilitate effective communication (N’asturianu, 2020).
For this reason, HSBC is likely to grow its banking market international through non-bank products like digital lending, peer-to-peer lending, and digital banking solutions. HSBC is committed to gender equality and non-racism services at all branches because it serves a wide population across different geographical representations (White, 2021). Critics raised concerns about non-promotions and retention of blacks and other minorities; however, the bank increased the transformation of its policies to ensure balance in work-life, equity, wellbeing, and equality for its employees.
Advancements in technology that have taken place over the past decade have significantly transformed how companies operate. However, it is essential to note that technology is dynamic, and changes often occur rapidly (Drobyazko et al., 2019). In 2021 the company ventured into technology to integrate blockchain transactions with off-chair processing to secure block-related businesses. Similarly, due to many cases of fraudulent forex and money laundering activities, HSBC strengthened its structures to close all the loopholes and develop a policy against suspected terrorists and drug offenders (Howard, 2014). Over-zealous anti-money laundering policies ensure tracking, reporting, and dealing with suspects’ funds by limiting withdrawals. In the past, the bank faced charges and fines against customers’ data loss and spam phone calls that further forced HSBC to strengthen its technology, cyber security, and data management frameworks to assure customers of data and privacy security.
The success of any establishment in an environment relies on how a company interacts with the surrounding communities. It brings about the concept of ethical conduct among companies. It is important to note that the public often embraces companies that operate in a manner that is considered ethically correct. In the case of HSBC, the company has strived to maintain an excellent public reputation by establishing effective social responsibility initiatives, including active participation in zero carbon emission initiatives (Drobyazko et al., 2019). The company has found distinct ways of empowering its workers through annual education forums and workshops. The company also has a reputation for participating in community projects such as sponsoring environmental days and education and contributing significantly to its public appreciation through charities. In addition, HSBC sponsored the Jaguar racing formula one, world Gold tournaments such as HSBC Women’s champions and WGC-HBS champions. It signed a five-year deal with the world sevens rugby union, offered $ 5 million to SOS Children, and partnered with Wimbledon Tennis Championships.
Established legal frameworks restrict the operations of any company in each country. However, it is important to note that legal policies often vary from country to country (Drobyazko et al., 2019). For a company to be on the safe side of the law, it must abide by the set legal stipulations, including regulations set on international money transfer, consumer protection laws, Tax laws, and Fraud laws. It supported China’s national security laws and blocklisted several pro-democracy activities (Harry & Alfred, 2020). The company has striven to be on the safe side of the law by actively adhering to set legal protocols and policies. HSBC can actively adhere to set legal procedures if the company finds it necessary to expand its operations to other countries.
HSBS apologized for breaching South Africa, the US, and UK anti-money laundering laws and agreed to pay hefty fines for the bank to continue operating in those markets (Mathew, 2015). It paid $ 14 million for manipulating foreign exchange benchmark rates, $192 million for helping rich Americans evade tax, $7.2 million against Euribor, $32 million against Libor Suit, Euros 3 million for mishandling customers’ details, $2.4 against spam calls, and $765 for mishandling mortgages (Trefis Team, 2018). Moreover, it relocated several workers and investments from London to Paris to continue enjoying Europe’s single trade block tariffs.
In addition, considering pollution and sustainability, the company is involved in waste management and environmental conservation activities (The Economist, 2012). These projects save the environment, promote a healthy work-life, and create a green economy. In 2012 reporters claimed HSBC funding goes to Indonesia’s palm oil companies and unsustainable logging in Malaysia and Sarawak; however, HSBC denies such reports due to its non-financial deforestation and social and environmental standard policies (ShareAction, 2021). Similarly, the company is committed to ending financing of its coal projects.
To effectively analyze the industrial conditions of HSBC PLC, it is practical to employ Porter’s Five Forces Model. According to Perera (2020), this model effectively evaluates a company’s life cycle in a particular Industry. Porter’s five forces address the following factors: supplier power, competition, the threat of new entrants, buyer power, and existing substitutes in the market.
The banking industry has a high threat of substitutes in the market. That, to some extent, creates unfavourable market competition in an economy. However, it is essential to note that substitute services contribute to a low learning curve and low switching costs (Perera, 2020). In addition, the availability of substitutes in an economy allows consumers to choose what to buy based on their tastes and preferences. For this reason, companies with substitute services must ensure that they set their prices relatively similar or lower. In the case of HSBC Company, the presence of substitute products, to some extent, poses a threat. However, to effectively maximize its profits, the company has sought effective strategies to penetrate larger economies such as the American market, UK, China, India, South Africa, and Korea, where it faces competitors such as Lloyds banking group PLC, Barclays Plc, Standard Chartered Plc, and NatWest Group PLC (HSBC Holdings Plc: Competitors, 2022). These companies offer substitute products to HSBC services, including; wealth management, risk management, securities services, private equity, mutual funds, mortgage loans, investment management, investment banking, insurance, equities trading, credit cards, commodities, banking, and asset management (HSBC, 2022) .
In the banking industry, the supplier is the investor and customers’ savings; their bargaining power is usually low considering established investment policies. It is advanced by the fact that the industry experiences relatively higher switching costs. Besides, suppliers often have close relations, facilitating active negotiations (Perera, 2020). It is important to note that creating an effective negotiating platform advances higher investments as suppliers/investors have sufficient bargaining power in other products and services of the company.
Buyers within the industry often have little bargaining power due to prices set by market forces and exchange rates in the world trading platforms. However, the services offered by HSBC Company, such as insurance, investment management, and banking, are not basic and thus can be sourced from other players. For this reason, there are often market analyses to determine banks’ rates and charges influencing the supply and demand of these services (Perera, 2020). Furthermore, it is important to note that HSBC experiences low switching costs because buyers are predisposed to various similar services and products. Besides, there are cases in which citizens prefer local banks due to stability, originality, and inflation risks.
Unlike the other factors discussed, the threat of new entrants in the banking market is moderate. In most cases, new entrants in a market are advanced by the availability of adequate market information. Furthermore, since the global banking industry is currently developing, there is enough room for new companies to venture into the business (Perera, 2020). However, new companies must focus on service differentiation and appropriate pricing, which allows the creation of unique services that are currently unavailable (HSBC, 2022). HSBC may not be experiencing any threats from new entrants because to be operational in the banking industry; investors ought to have a large amount of capital and adequate resources, with an average financial capital of more than $3.5 million which is very difficult to obtain.
Rivalry amongst Established Competitors
As earlier stated, the banking industry has numerous competitors who facilitate the availability of substitute services in the market. Therefore, it is essential to note that companies must assimilate effective competitive strategies to establish sustainable economic development (Perera, 2020). HSBC has an effective, innovative team that enhances the development of different services surpassing market competitors. The company mainly eliminates its competitors through acquisitions, mergers, and amalgamations (Garfield, 2000). The company expanded by acquiring Marine Midland Bank, Roberts SA Inversiones, Republic National Bank, Credit Commercial De France, Demirbank, Grupo Financiero Bital, Household Finance Corporation, Banco Bamerindus, Korean AM-TEK, Polski Kredyt Bank, Bank of Communication of Shanghai, UK’s Marks & Spenser, Metric Inc, Iraq’s Dar es Salaam Investment Bank, Argentina’s Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, Chinese Bank of Taiwan, India’s IL & FS Investment, WestPac Custody, Singapore’s AXA Insurance, and L&T finance holdings.
The industry life cycle denotes how the industry has evolved. The life cycle entails four distinct stages, namely: the introduction stage, the growth stage, the maturity stage, and the decline stage. The banking industry is currently at its growth stage. It is because of continuous technological developments in artificial intelligence cyber security, forex trading, virtual money, mobile banking, and digital banking. The banking industry has tremendous potential, which companies such as HSBC can maximize to establish sustainable growth and development in the future.
Over the past three years, HSBC has experienced progressive net income growth; however, the company overview indicates unstable revenue. Since the year 2019, the company has increased its yields to a great extent. For instance, in 2019, the net income was $7.3million, 2020; 5.2 million in 2021; 13.9 million, and 12.8 million in 2022. Declines in revenues is as follows; in 2019 revenue were $ 70.8 million, 2020; $62.8, 2021; $ 63.6 million, and $ 62.1 million in 2022 (HSBC, 2022). The above statistics illustrate that the company has, over the years, expanded its client base. That serves as a positive indicator that the company is likely to attract more clients. The company is equally determined to maintain the trend by effectively positioning the company in the international field. Considering the dynamic nature of the contemporary human resource, the company has reduced employee turnover and increased its retention levels to benefit from experienced employees. As a result, HSBC’s retention rate is high, which is good compared to other similar-sized companies in the same industry. It relocated workers during Brexit from London to Paris and maintained operations during the Covid-19 pandemic (Morris, 2017). The average employee turnover is about 83%. Another critical factor to note about the company’s financial position is the image and reputation that HSBC has created and maintained over the years. HSBC’s key subsidiaries include Mexico, Sri Lanka, the UK, the US, the Middle East, Malaysia, Canada, the UK, Europe, Asia, Africa, Korea, Russia, India, and China. The company is known to provide services that meet client expectations (N’asturianu, 2020). As a result, the company has attracted a larger client base that advances the active maximization of profits.
HSBC is one of the largest banking companies that has perfectly adapted to new technological and service advancements (HSBC, 2022). To retain its established client base while actively attracting new customers, HSBC has specialized in the creation of personalized services such as wealth management, risk management, securities services, private equity, mutual funds, mortgage loans, investment management, investment banking, insurance, equities trading, credit cards, commodities, banking, and asset management. The company has developed environmental sustainability policies such as non-financing its coal projects and deforestation activities. It takes advantage of marketing its images through sponsoring sporting activities, education, and charities, including the world rugby union, donations to SOS children, formula one racing, and Wimbledon Tennis championships.
HSBC’s Competencies and Sustainable Competitive Advantage
Vertical Integration within the Company
Vertical integration denotes the active process of obtaining business operations in a similar production (Išoraitė, 2018). Vertical integration is effective for business growth both in the short term and in the long term. It enables making new profit centres, helps in business expansion, maintains quality control, and helps differentiate from competitors. HSBC has specialized in establishing effective communication within its subsidiaries, a factor that enhances the productivity of its employees. In addition, the company has an effective leadership system that allows its workers to participate in the decision-making process. It also championed inclusivity, equity, and equality to ensure the inclusion of people of colour, blacks, and other minorities.
HSBC is committed to supporting and investing in carbon-free footprint projects. It has stopped financing its coal projects and transacting business with companies in Malaysia and Indonesia associated with unsustainable logging and environmental degradation.
Public reputation plays a crucial role in determining the effectiveness of a company. In the case of HSBC, the company has maintained a good market reputation. The reputation results from the company ensuring that they actualize the demands of all their customers. In addition, HSBC apologized in all cases involving cyber security, forex fraud, and money laundering and accepted to pay hefty fines to clear its names and take responsibility for employees’ actions. The company suspended accused workers and forced others to resign upon completion of investigations.
As earlier stated, ABAMobile strives to ensure that its employed task force is successfully managed. In a recent report, the company stated that it has one of the best employee retention schemes. The company has an equitable distribution of gender in its workforce, where 35% of employees are female (HSBC Holdings, Inclusion: Our diversity data, 2022). Additionally, their retention of female staff is very high. The company relies on skills-based assessment in recruitment, hiring, and promotion. That, therefore, provides opportunities regardless of gender. In addition, the human resource department ensures that the welfare of its employees is prioritized over the actualization of set organizational goals.
Like any typical business, HSBC has its strengths and weaknesses, which affect its effectiveness in the market and industry. Its primary strength is its innovative solid service team that ensures customers are treated equally and fairly to develop trust with all customers. HSBC provide a range of services in the insurance and banking sector, showing its strength in service diversification. It has strong financial capabilities enabling the acquisition of several financial companies in major markets like China, the US, the UK, and Europe. The company is facing challenges due to its weakness in regulating money laundering activities and Iran businesses concerning the US sanctions and terrorism activities (Hamish, 2019). As witnessed in previous cases, it also has a weakness in managing the Forex businesses and customer data (Maynard, 2020). For instance, cases of spam calls and 37,000 customers’ data loss.
Opportunities and threats refer to external forces that may influence the success of a business within a given economy. Since the company operates in an industry currently in its growth stage, HSBC can make necessary accommodations to advance its market presence by extending its global reach. Furthermore, very few investors have the financial capacity to start a company such as HSBC; thus, the company has latent opportunities to expand its business across global economies (HSBC-PLC, 2022). To effectively promote the company and successfully prowess in the US and Europe market, HSBC must focus on cyber security, customer data safety, strict regulations against money laundering, terrorism financing, and zero-carbon emission project policies. In the context of threats, the company faces stiff competition from some of its rivals: Lloyds banking group Plc, Barclays Plc, Standard Chartered Plc, and NatWest Group PLC (Global Finance Magazine, 2012). It is important to note that even though the company may not face significant threats from local and international corporations’ market penetration poses a significant threat to its effectiveness and general performance. In addition, the shortage of skilled labour can also become a threat in the market by limiting growth and profit margins.
One of the main concerns that need to be actively addressed by HSBC is the need to increase sales. The company has the potential to attract more customers, but it lacks an effective marketing strategy. It is important to note that through the assimilation of an effective marketing strategy, the company will expand its operations and advance its services exceptionally in the market (N’asturianu, 2020). Primary issues and concerns include gender equality and social commitments, environmental activism, social media presences and marketing, China pro-democracy activists, money laundering, cyber security, Brexit, and Covid-19. Solving these challenges includes continuous policy changes, adaptation strategies, following due concerns and relevant legal practices, respecting trade laws, increasing regulations and reporting of money laundering activities, increasing investment in education and employees’ training, and adaptation to Covid-19 working situations.
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White, L. (2021). Exclusive Banker behind Report Alleging HSBC Racism Resigns over Lack of Support. https://www.reuters.com/business/finance/exclusive-banker-behind-report-alleging-hsbc-racism-resigns-over-lack-support-2021-08-06/
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Figure 1: HSBC Financial Summary
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