Exclusive: HSBC to boost China staff by up to 1,000 in 2017, mostly in Pearl River Delta

Fri Mar 24, 2017 4:29am EDT
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By Sumeet Chatterjee

HONG KONG (Reuters) - HSBC (HSBA.L: Quote) plans to add as many as 1,000 new employees to its Chinese retail banking and wealth management arm this year, the business's regional head said, most of them in the Pearl River Delta, the heart of the bank's growth strategy in China.

If that target is hit, the new additions will mean HSBC will have hired twice as many people as it did last year for this part of the business. They will join an existing team for this unit of 2,400 employees in the world's second-largest economy.

HSBC has made the southern Pearl River Delta region - home to 11 industrial cities that are set to fuse into one megalopolis - its focus in China, betting on its growth and its own Hong Kong heritage.

This region already has an economy larger than Indonesia's and is shifting from a manufacturing base to a tech powerhouse.

But since the strategy to reinvigorate profit growth after years of restructuring was announced in 2015, China's economic growth has slowed, delaying the bank's plans. HSBC makes more than half of its profit in Asia, the bulk of it in Hong Kong and China.

"As of this point, we are very pleased with the progress in the Pearl River Delta. We certainly aren't taking any backward steps," Kevin Martin, HSBC's Asia Pacific head of retail banking and wealth management, told Reuters.

HSBC's latest numbers for China retail and wealth management business suggest growth remained strong, with its customer base as well as mortgage volume expanding by 51 percent in the Pearl River Delta last year. It issued over 100,000 credit cards since launching it in December across all cities in the Pearl River Delta and 30 other cities in the country, Martin said.

"We have done a lot of things in the Pearl River Delta ... It remains one of the key opportunities for us."   Continued...

People walk past a major branch of HSBC at the financial Central district in Hong Kong, China February 21, 2017.      REUTERS/Bobby Yip