The Times recently described HSBC's investment banking activities as a 'rather half-hearted effort'. And the newspaper probably had a point. The bank has a strong global franchise and excellent relationships around the world. But a somewhat conservative approach to business and a cautious view of risk has always meant that the investment banking division stood apart from a Goldman Sachs or a Morgan Stanley. Until now, that is.
The days when the division didn't pay bonuses and staff came and quickly left are probably gone for good. New men are at the helm. Right now ex-Morgan Stanley man John Studzinski and Stuart Gulliver are running the bank's corporate, investment banking and markets division and the changes are being rung.
New strategic hires have been made and more are in the offing. For the first time in perhaps several years, staff in the division have a spring in their step as they begin to feel part of something. Studzinski in particular is a class-act. Well respected at Morgan Stanley, he was re-appointed by Tony Blair this summer to his position as Trustee at The Tate.
Staff can now look forward to a much more can-do attitude from the top in the investment banking division as Studzinski has not come over to put up his feet. He will be there for the duration and is determined that HSBC will become a key player in wholesale banking. Only a fool would bet against him succeeding.