HSBC Global Private Bank has moved to promote Bernard Rennell to head of global private banking for Asia Pacific as part of a management reshuffle.
The move could signal a return to a more expansive strategy for HSBC private bank, which has been on a cost-cutting drive for the past few years, sources note.
Currently chief executive of global private banking for North Asia, Rennell takes regional control as the bank brings its two booking centres of North and South Asia together in what it calls a “strategic alignment”.
Rennell will continue to be based in Hong Kong and will report to Peter Boyles, chief executive of global private banking, and Peter Wong, HSBC chief executive. It is understood that Rennell will keep his North Asia remit.
Amit Gupta, currently CEO of global private banking for South Asia, has decided to take a sabbatical from HSBC for personal reasons, according to the statement.
Rob Ioannou and Sandeep Sharma have been promoted to co-heads of the Southeast Asia, reporting functionally to Rennell and locally to Guy Harvey-Samuel, group general manager and CEO of HSBC Singapore.
Ioannou was formerly business head for Singapore in the global private banking business, while Sharma was head for India.
“These changes are driven by the strategic importance of Asia as a priority growth region for global private banking and HSBC,” the statement read.
“For historical reasons, the private bank business was run as two separate booking centres out of North and South Asia. We are bringing these together into a single region for strategic realignment.”
What this likely means is that while its booking centres will remain separate, strategically it is returning to a structure where it has one regional head, as used to be the case under Monica Wong.
“Strategically it makes sense, it is better to have one regional head,” says a senior industry source. “It is a question of realignment. HSBC has been on a cost-cutting phase for the past three years.
"This is the first big announcement it has made since, that it is reorganising and trying to change things. Perhaps now it will be more aggressive.”
In its statement, HSBC added the management changes in Asia Pacific “continue the process of aligning the global private bank’s structure with the rest of HSBC Group and give further impetus to our growth in the region”.
The bank stressed that it remained fully committed to continuing to grow its private banking business in Singapore and the region. “We have in place a leadership team with a strong track record of success,” it stated. “These changes will serve to enhance the day-to-day dealings of our clients and the level of service that we offer them.”
Rennell had been promoted to North Asia CEO in 2011. It was seen as a surprise at the time as he came in above Desmond Liu, who had been introduced to the market only a year previously as North Asia CEO as part of a new leadership team on the back of Wong's retirement.