HSBC Private Bank (Suisse) SA is part of HSBC Global Private Banking. The bank was created in 2001 by the reorganization of the Swiss Private Banking activities of HSBC. The headquarter is in Geneva, and the bank has branches in Zurich and Dubai. HSBC was originally born from one idea being a local bank serving international needs. The bank was opened 1865 in Hong Kong to facilitate the trade between Europe and Asia.
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Philosophy and Strategy
HSBC is focusing on delivering sustainable managed and advisory investment solutions as well as tailored solutions. The bank is there where the growth is and is helping business to prosper and economies to thrive and also to enable people to realize their ambitions.
The strategic priorities are:
Accelerate growth in Asia
Gain market share from the international network
Turn around the US business
Improve the customer service by investing further in digital capabilities and technology
Simplify the organization and invest in future skills
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Services and Solutions HSBC’s primary focus is on serving clients from Europe, the Middle East, as well as clients from Switzerland. The bank serves high-net-worth individuals and their families and provides solutions to grow, preserve and manage wealth across generations. HSBC offers a wide range of services and investment products including advisory, execution only services and managed investment solutions. The bank also offers wealth planning, global custody, and tailored credit solutions. HSBC Private Bank brings the best of the research, service and product capabilities of the Group to their clients.
HSBC has three client service groups:
Wealth client group – delivers a seamless transition across the wealth management and the retail banking
Corporate client group – enhances connectivity with commercial banking and global banking and markets
Global solutions group – provides non-traditional solutions to group clients with the most sophisticated needs
Wealth Management HSBC’s wealth management is tailored to the client’s needs. The bank is working closely with the client to achieve his goals. The approach is to grow the wealth over the long-term. The bank provides a broad range of services and expertise, including wealth planning, financing, and investment management.
Private Banking services To meet the needs of wealthy families and individuals HSBC offers:
Liquidity event management
Hedge funds HSBC Private Bank is selecting and investing in hedge funds for over a quarter of a century. The bank is one of the largest investors and can offer the right products for the client’s needs. HSBC thinks that they can identify the best managers across the different strategies globally. The bank manages the risks through due diligence and continuous monitoring.
Private Equity HSBC Private Bank has a particular approach to private equity. The bank chooses strategies in which they have the highest conviction. They select the best managers who will reward the client for the illiquidity associated with the investment. The investments can be either in funds, club deals, and co-investments or in segregated mandates.
Credit services Depending on the client’s needs, HSBC offers tailored lending through residential mortgage lending, specialized asset finance, and marketable securities backed loans.
Risk Management The bank’s strategic priorities are managing risk effectively. HSBC is employing a risk management framework in line with the Group’s Enterprise Risk Management framework. It fosters the continuous monitoring of the risk environment. It is ensured that the bank’s risk profile is in line with its risk appetite. The level and types of risk that HSBC is willing to accept to achieve the long-term objectives are stated in the risk appetite statement which is reviewed at least twice a year.
HSBC Private Bank uses the three lines of defense model in its risk management approach. Responsibilities are defined for identifying, measuring, managing, assessing, monitoring and mitigating risks. The first line of defense owns the risks and is responsible for recording, reporting, identifying and managing them. It also ensures that the right assessments and controls are in place to mitigate these risks.
The second line of defense reviews the activities of the first line and ensures that the minimum requirements are met. The third line of defense is Internal Audit. All employees are required to assess, identify, and manage risk within the scope of their responsibilities and, as such, they are critical to the effectiveness of the three lines of defense.
The main risks the bank is exposed to are the credit risk, the liquidity and funding risk, the market risk, the interest rate risk, the operational risk, the legal risk, the financial crime risk, the reputational risk, and the fiduciary risk.
Clear rules regulate the credit risks. They are mitigated through strict control of collaterals and limits. The Treasury Department monitors daily the market risks. The liquidity is always ensured, and the focus is on pertaining the liquidity ratios set by the regulatory rules. An additional risk which is regularly monitored by the Board of Directors and the Audit Committee is the operational risk. The Legal & Compliance department is responsible for the legal and compliance risk.
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Alexander Classen is the new CEO of HSBC’s private banking arm in Switzerland and Luxembourg. Mr. Classen who ran the international arm of Coutts started his job on November 5, 2018. Mr. Classen replaced Mr. Morra who left the company in April 2018 when HSBC applied a new structure aligning the private bank units in the UK, France, Germany, Luxembourg, and the Channel Island more closely to each other.
HSBC is planning a major hiring push in private banking. The bank is looking to hire up to 240 new people. The focus is in the Asia-Pacific region. HSBC plans to add about 25 new staff in Switzerland and Luxembourg.
HSBC Global Private Banking manages 330 billion USD in client’s assets.
The investment outlook, published on a quarterly basis, gives the client the macroeconomic views from HSBC’s global investment committee, revealing the latest themes from the investment world. The popular insight programme offers to listen to speakers from the world of art, culture, science, health, and media.
In the first half of 2018 HSBC Private Bank Switzerland showed a loss of 46 million CHF, 6 million more than in the first half of 2017. One of the reasons for this loss is ongoing legal proceeding in connection with the data theft by one of its former employees Mr. Falciani in 2007. HSBC hat to pay 340 million CHF to settle a dispute I France.
HSBC was once the biggest foreign bank in Switzerland, but the business shrank in the past years. The bank changed the strategy in 2010 and is now focusing on 20 offshore markets from a previous 120. The change meant that clients left, weighing on earnings.
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There are some smaller banks without a rating. It makes no sense for them to apply for a rating because they are not involved in the lending business. If the bank has no rating, it’s not automatically a negative point. There are excellent private banks without a rating.
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