HSBC shifts focus to retail banking

With its recent acquisition of NRMA, HSBC realised plans to aggressively expand its branch network. Head of personal financial services, Kevin Martin, points out that although the bank is keen to grow its retail presence it is not a core strategy because its customer are saying “we don't need all those branches anymore.”

Instead HSBC sees the future of banking not as selling products on the strength of a mortgage relationship with each customer but rather offering customers complete financial advice.

Mr Martin said, “The days of home mortgages being the cornerstone have passed and will get further away from reality…to us, lending and financial planning are the same.” Mr Martin also feels that the term “wealth management” was overused in banking circles and meant little to customers.

Although it is the second largest bank in the world, with a market value of more than $200 billion, it is a relative lightweight in the Australian retail banking market. Mr Martin is focused on plans to make HSBC a force to be reckoned with by the four major banks.

Integration of NRMA was ahead of schedule and the building society's management had become senior members of the bank's team.

The purchase has certainly given HSBC extra firepower in mortgages, cards and term deposits. However given that it employs a variety of distribution channels, including Internet banking, mobile lending and mortgage broking, like the major banks, HSBC is unlikely to find inheriting a large national branch network – via an acquisition – very appealing.

Read more here on HSBC’s expansion of its branch network.

The Sydney Morning Herald Online 04/02/02