John Flint has been named the new CEO of HSBC. Once again the bank has opted for a senior insider to take the helm.

Flint is coming to the top job at HSBC having supervised its retail banking and wealth management divisions. Like many before him, he has spent time in Asia, working within the bank’s trading operations in Hong Kong.

HSBC likes to appoint those who have grown up within its business. John Flint has spent 28 years within the bank, so knows his way around.

HSBC is known to have considered outsiders for the role too. However, every one of the bank’s previous CEOs has come from within the ranks of its own management, so why buck the trend?

Flint is regarded as someone who is capable of handling the big egoes that banking typically attracts, as well as being sensitive to the traditions of a bank which grew up during the period when, as the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, it helped to finance trading and infrastructure across the British Empire.

John Flint joins HSBC at a time when the bank is facing several challenges, not least what its role is going to be within the post-Brexit City of London. There have been constant runblings about moving more operational emphasis to Asia, including investing more in its Chinese operations around Guangzhou.

Not a great deal is known about the John Flint personality, as he has given very few interviews, so it will take some time for the financial media and the stock market to get to know him. The appointment will likely be welcomed by the Asian market and Asian shareholders, who would not have wanted to see a protracted battle within the boardroom, and who are perfectly happy with a tradition that sees new CEOs at HSBC promoted from within.

The news did not go down well with investors overall, however. At the time of writing, the HSBC share price had dropped by 1.04% and was trading at 750.50, although this was partly due to shares trading without the right to their regular dividend.

Outside Asia, investors had been asking the bank to appoint an outsider to the role. Flint has yet to formally take over the top job. Some big investors in HSBC shares have been looking for an outsider that can turn the bank around, but shares are up over 14% so far this year and the bank has also announced a $2 billion share buyback program.

The HSBC share price will certainly be one to watch in the coming weeks as the market digests the news.

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12th October 2017
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