By Paul Clarke

Of Financial News


Samir Assaf is expected to step down from his role leading HSBC Holdings PLC's (HSBA.LN) global banking and markets division after eight years, paving the way for a successor who faces a challenge in turning performance at the division around.

Mr. Assaf is considered one of the City's best-known and most-respected bankers, having joined HSBC in 2000. In a 2017 interview with Financial News he described himself as the "last man standing" in U.K. investment banking.

Once touted as a successor to Stuart Gulliver as chief executive of HSBC, Mr. Assaf was asked to stay on as head of global banking and markets by John Flint when he replaced Gulliver in early 2018.

He will now take on a nonexecutive director role at the bank, with current interim chief executive Noel Quinn expected to announce more senior management changes at a strategy update next year.

Whoever replaces Assaf will face the immediate job of improving performance within GBM. Pre-tax profits at the division fell almost 22% year on year during the first nine months of 2019, to around $4 billion.

FN spoke to City headhunters and bank insiders about the internal candidates who could be in the running for Mr. Assaf's job:


Antonio Simoes, chief executive, private banking--the Portuguese banker took up his current position in January but has held various senior roles at HSBC since joining from McKinsey, the consultancy, in 2007. A former Goldman Sachs investment banker, Mr. Simoes has led HSBC's U.K. retail banking business and was also previously its chief executive for Europe.

He joined the bank as group head of strategy--experience that could serve him well in a position leading GBM at a difficult time for both banking and trading businesses. Mr. Simoes has also worked across HSBC's retail and wealth management and asset management divisions.

Crucially, he has spent time in HSBC's largest market in Asia, where he served as chief of staff to former chief executive Michael Geoghegan in Hong Kong for two years.


Greg Guyett, head of global banking--Mr. Guyett only joined HSBC in October last year, to lead its traditional investment banking business. Nonetheless, insiders say he has impressed internally with his moves to shake up a business that has often struggled to keep pace with its rivals. Guyett is paring down the number of sectors and countries the bank covers and has moved quickly to cut underperforming bankers and hire dealmakers expected to land the bank more roles on prestigious mergers and acquisitions.

During his nearly 30 years at JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), he worked across investment banking and commercial banking in the U.S., Asia and Europe. His appointment would also signal a change of focus at HSBC, which has in recent times picked executives from its sales and trading business - Assaf and Gulliver - to lead global banking and markets.


Thierry Roland, head of global banking and markets, Europe--Mr. Roland would fit more neatly into the mould of former sales and trading executives leading the division. He has been running GBM in Europe since July 2018 and took temporary charge of its overall global markets division in September last year, following the departure of Thibaut de Roux.

Mr. Roland has been at HSBC since 2000, the year in which it acquired CCF, the French lender, and has held various roles including group treasurer, global head of balance sheet management and head of GBM for the Americas.


Georges Elhedery, head of global markets--The global markets division at HSBC accounted for more than 40% of total GBM revenues during the first nine months of 2019. Mr. Elhedery previously led the bank's Middle East and north Africa business - its second-biggest region for profits this year - but was installed as head of global markets in January.

Insiders suggest Mr. Elhedery's sales and trading background makes him a more obvious candidate to replace Mr. Assaf than other contenders. He has also held senior roles in London and Tokyo.


Allegra Berman, global co-head of securities services--Ms. Berman moved into a role co-running HSBC's vast securities services business in September last year, following the death of Cian Burke in a cycling accident. At the time, she was emerging as a potential successor to Matthew Westerman to lead HSBC's global banking business, according to people familiar with the matter.

Ms. Berman joined the U.K. lender in 2013 from UBS as global head of its public sector group. She was handed additional responsibility for its financial institutions group in Europe, the Middle East and Africa in an investment bank revamp in 2016. Ms. Berman has consistently been named as one of the most influential women in European finance by Financial News.

Securities services sits within HSBC's GBM division, and Ms. Berman's experience running the unit, together with her investment banking background, would serve her well if she was promoted again.




(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 20, 2019 11:01 ET (16:01 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2019 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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