HSBC Holdings Plc, Europe’s biggest bank, tapped an outsider for its top job on Monday, appointing insurance veteran and AIA Group boss Mark Tucker as chairman to replace Douglas Flint, who plans to step down in 2017. A one-time professional footballer who has held several leadership jobs including running Britain’s Prudential, Tucker will take over as group chairman designate from Sept. 1 and as non-executive group chairman on Oct. 1.
The bank’s shares rose 1.2 percent in Hong Kong on Monday on news of the appointment, which market-watchers said signalled the bank’s ongoing pivot towards Asia and steadier, lower-risk income streams.“The appointment of a safe pair of hands like Tucker potentially signals an increasing focus on steadier, annuity-style income streams where HSBC has a competitive advantage and which are also set to benefit as interest rates rise,” said Benjamin Quinlan, CEO of Hong Kong consultancy Quinlan & Associates.
“It also highlights a renewed focus on risk and compliance after HSBC recently got itself in hot water with regulators. The strategy now is all about stability and predictability.”Among the first tasks for Tucker – whose appointment breaks with HSBC’s usual practice of appointing insiders for its top jobs – will be to identify a successor to HSBC Chief Executive Stuart Gulliver, a process expected to conclude in 2018.