Skip to main content

HSBC is, to put it kindly, a mess. Profit is down. Its biggest shareholder wants it split in two. And it increasingly finds itself in the awkward position of attempting to straddle the growing divide between the West, where it is based, and China, where it got its start and which remains its most important market.

Not unlike ambitious number twos before him—indeed, not unlike his immediate predecessor—HSBC CFO Ewen Stevenson figured this put him in an advantageous position. He is highly regarded and wanted a promotion, and he didn’t care that his boss, CEO Noel Quinn, wasn’t quite willing to make way just yet. And not unlike ambitious number twos before him, Stevenson found that he didn’t have quite as much leverage as he thought, and so, quite unlike the other ambitious number two to whom we’ve been referring throughout, Stevenson won’t become CEO eventually.

Ewen Stevenson, 56 years old, in recent months told board members he wanted to be HSBC’s CEO and didn’t want to wait too long, the people familiar with the matter said. The board was unwilling to provide timing for a change or an assurance that Mr. Stevenson would get the job, the people said….

Mr. Stevenson, well liked by investors and analysts, is leaving at a tumultuous time for the bank…. His exit is the latest sign of executive upheaval at the banking giant. HSBC has cycled through senior staff since Chairman Mark Tucker started in 2017. Mr. Tucker named a new CEO, John Flint, in 2018, leading to the departure of the last CFO, who also had wanted the CEO job.

HSBC CFO Ewen Stevenson Sought Top Job Before Surprise Resignation [WSJ]
HSBC Posts Profit Decline, Names Georges Elhedery as Finance Chief [WSJ]

Related

Getty Images

HSBC Hires Last CEO

Noel Quinn won’t be saddled with the term interim when society finally collapses in a couple of weeks.

Getty Images

HSBC CEO Would Rather Answer Awkward Questions From British Members Of Parliament Than Chinese Bureaucrats

But Noel Quinn’s not a political man so he’d rather not get in to the obvious implications of that choice.

Getty Images

Layoffs Watch ’19: HSBC C-Suite

The wholesale departures precede some additional wholesale departures.

Getty Images

HSBC Bankers Now Have Two Bosses To Bitch About And Plot Against

Now, maybe the bank will only be a “persistent failure” half the time.

Getty Images

HSBC Really Doesn’t Like It When Mommy And Daddy Fight

Mommy and Daddy in this case being China and the U.S.

Getty Images

HSBC Violates Your Natural/Moral/Legal/Constitutional/Biblical Right To An HSBC Bank Account While Killing HSBC Employees

It definitely says “Thou shalt not cancel my checking account in absence of a mask” in one or all of those.