The bank has been under immense scrutiny following revelations about its Swiss banking arm. The current board is expected to be replaced within the next two years following allegations of the banks Swiss branch’ involvement in a tax evasion scandal.
Shareholders and industry sources have reported that they expected Chairman Douglas Flint to be replaced within the next 12-24 months. The bank appointed head hunters MWM Consulting to search for new non-executive directors.
Sky News reported that Flint would step down no later than following HSBC’s shareholder meeting in 2017. Aged 59, Flint has been chairman since 2010 and the director of finance at HSBC since 1995. He chairs the industry lobby group; Institute of International Finance and is highly respected for his regulatory expertise.
Since 2010, following a number of boardroom battles and orderly successions, HSBC promised its shareholders that the board would ensure it had non-executives eligible to move up to the next chairman. The bank had made promises, even prior to the Swiss tax evasion scandal, that it would recruit the next chairman from outside of its ranks. Despite this, Sir Simon Robertson, a former Goldman Sachs banker who has been on the board of HSBC for over 9 years has confirmed his intentions to remain for another year, despite his original intentions of stepping down last month.
Chief executive, Stuart Gulliver has been cutting back the number of countries in which the bank operates and reorganised the banks structure in order to boost shareholder value. Several investors and one of the bank’s 20 largest shareholders confirmed that it was the right time for HSBC to plan for a change.