CEO John Flint of HSBC has been in the top job just 18 months but has come to an agreement to part ways with the bank. The current trade war between the USA and China, along with the worries over Brexit and the political uncertainty in Hong Kong in the last two months, all put pressure on the mighty bank to maintain its profitability on track.
The bank reported pre-tax profit of US$12.4 billion (S$17 billion) for the first half of this year, up 15.8 per cent from the same period last year.
HSBC Holdings Plc confirmed its plans to eliminate jobs, axing more than 4,000 posts and warning that senior executives will be a focus of the cutbacks.
Mr Quinn, who will take up the role in the interim, has been chief executive of global commercial banking, a position he has held since 2015.
HSBC chief executive John Flint has stepped down after the bank said it believed a change was needed "to meet the challenges" it faces.
"Our sense is the climate is getting increasingly complex, increasingly challenging, and that we both agree a change is needed to really make the most of the opportunities ahead of us", Tucker said in an interview yesterday.
Tucker and HSBC's directors had "clearly lost confidence in [Flint's] ability to navigate the tougher outlook faced by HSBC given the geopolitical and macrouncertainties, structural headwinds for global banks, and digital disruption challenges", Ronit Ghose, bank analyst at Citigroup, told The Financial Times.
Some HSBC executives in Asia expressed surprise at the move, saying there had been no indication that a change was afoot.
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Mr Flint ran HSBC's retail and wealth management business before taking over as CEO in 2018.
HSBC hired Citigroup veteran Michael Roberts in July to head its USA business, in a renewed effort to bring in external help to turn around the struggling unit. The bank said in Monday's statement that it did not expect to achieve its targeted 6 per cent return on tangible equity in the USA by 2020.
The lender also said it would shortly begin a buyback of up to US$1 billion.
HSBC's investment banking business has also struggled in recent years as it lost a string of senior executives and saw US rivals cash in on booming domestic stock markets.
Mr Tucker played down the impact of that on the bank's business and said the bank remained confident about the future of the Asian financial centre.
The CEO hiring process would take six-to-12 months, and consider both internal and external candidates, he said.
"Trade tensions between the USA and China are progressively affecting the growth output in both markets", Stevenson added. "Interest rates in the United States dollar bloc are now expected to fall rather than rise, and geopolitical issues could impact a significant number of our major markets", the bank said.
In the second quarter, adjusted operating expenses rose to US$8.1 billion from US$7.8 billion.