Like all banks, HSBC is in business to make a profit. Yet returning the maximum investment to its shareholders is not the sole focus of this global financial institution. From its roots in rural Asia to its advancement to a global corporation, HSBC has maintained a core focus on basic principles. Achieving its aims and objectives by adhering to its values has allowed HSBC to maintain both profitability and high ethical standards.
HSBC's origins and early history help to explain its values today. HSBC began in Hong Kong in 1865. Originally known as The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited, the bank developed from the early needs of traders along the China coast. According to HSBC, the founding principles of the bank derived from local ownership and management; from the start, the bank was in business to help strengthen business communities and aid local investment. HSBC went on to develop a strong presence not only in Asia, but also in Europe and America. Today, HSBC is headquartered in London, England.
The aims of HSBC are revealed through its slogan and business focus. Branding itself as "The World's Local Bank," HSBC continues to concentrate on local investment as an engine of economic growth. In addition, the company's four key businesses are Global Banking and Markets, Private Banking, Commerical Banking, and Personal Finance Services; each of these business sectors allows HSBC to harness global economic trends to service both its current and emerging markets.
Through its core business principles, HSBC functions to accomplish it objectives. HSBC.com lists these as outstanding customer service; effective and efficient operations; strong capital and liquidity; prudent lending policy; and strict expense discipline. HSBC also stresses that commitment by employees helps to create long-term customer relationships, a keystone of the bank's profitability model. HSBC.com states this is accomplished through attention to integrity, ethics and managerial oversight.
HSBC's commitment to its values has allowed the company to accomplish many of its goals for expansion and profitability, as well as commitment to local investment and excellent customer service. HSBC is designed to be both global and local. Bankers Almanac ranked HSBC as the 14th largest bank in the world, in terms of assets, in 2009. In addition, HSBC is carrying its objectives forward into the Information Age: Global Finance Magazine rated HSBC as one of the world's best Internet banks for 2009.
In the banking crisis that began in late 2007, financial institutions showed serious operational deficiencies, and banks have subsequently been called upon to reexamine their commitment to both their customers and to ethical standards. For example, HSBC in 2009 closed its U.S. "subprime" lending unit, which made controversial high interest loans to customers with weak credit profiles. The bank also made new commitments to support what it calls "sustainable finance," aiding investment in renewable energy markets and companies that address climate change.
Jason Reeher has been a freelance writer for 20 years. Reeher's opinions have appeared in a wide variety of publications, including "USA Today" and "The Wall Street Journal." He holds a master's degree in business and public administration from the University of Phoenix.