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A new double act just started at HSBC in Asia

HSBC ended its long-running search for a new head of global banking for North Asia with the appointment of Christina Ma who joined from Goldman Sachs and started at the bank late last month.

With her arrival at HSBC in Hong Kong, Greg Guyett, HSBC’s head of global banking and markets, has reshuffled the corporate finance division and created a new layer of management underneath him.

Ma’s arrival fills a gap vacated by the popular Dai Kitamura, who retired from the bank last November. She will work alongside Stuart Lea, who is HSBC's head of global banking for South Asia, based in Singapore.

Co-head structures can lead to power struggles particularly when there is an overlap in terms of skills. “Often the appointment of co-heads is a way of ducking a tough decision about who is the best person to lead,” said one senior banker.

This isn’t the case here. HSBC divided its global banking management between North and South Asia back in 2021 as part of a strategy to improve the focus of the business across the region. Plus, Lea and Ma have very different skills.  Lea, who is also head of HSBC’s real assets group, has a strong background in HSBC’s core capabilities in financing, corporate banking and debt capital markets.

By contrast, Ma joined from Goldman where she ran Greater China equities. In an interview on the US bank’s website, she described starting a career in finance after arriving in Hong Kong “with a backpack and a one way ticket after college”. 

Prior to Ma’s arrival, Lea was overseeing global banking in North and South Asia on an interim basis.  He previously reported to Guyett, but HSBC has also created an additional layer of management. Lea therefore now reports to Lisa McGeough and Gerry Keefe, who were handed the newly-created roles of co-heads of global coverage as part of the reshuffle.

“Dai was vastly experienced and well-liked and Stewart has enormous knowledge and experience of HSBC’s core businesses,” says one insider. “They’ll need to keep him happy under the new structure.”

With Keefe based in New York and McGeough in London, on the face of it, Guyett’s appointments would appear to run counter to HSBC’s much-vaunted ‘pivot to Asia’ strategy.  But Keefe’s CV suggests otherwise. Prior to joining HSBC as head of global banking for the Americas in 2021, he spent four years in Hong Kong as head of Asia-Pacific corporate banking at Citigroup. Keefe and McGeough have just spent the last week visiting  the business in Hong Kong.

In order to strengthen its regional focus, Guyett has also promoted Matthew Ginsberg, co-head of Capital Financing and Investment Banking Coverage, to the executive committee of HSBC Holdings, the bank’s Asia-Pacific subsidiary.

In addition to the management changes, a source said that HSBC has also moved “a handful” of its corporate clients in South Asia from global banking into its commercial bank (CMB), which is run by Barry O’Byrne. HSBC wants global banking to sharpen its focus on institutional and financial institutions clients in the region. 

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AUTHORDavid Rothnie Insider Comment

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