The news that Sir John Bond, HSBC's chairman, will eventually hang up his boots in May next year, was not unexpected. Nor was confirmation that Stephen Green (not the son of a preacher man, but A preacher man), the bank's CEO, will replace him. Bond, however, has been a feature of the HSBC landscape for so long, many thought that he would last for ever.
But, although old bankers never die, they do eventually just fade away. Contrary to popular belief, Sir John, 64, didn't actually join HSBC straight from the Ark (now that was a long time ago!). In fact, he didn't even establish the bank (that happened in 1865, long before Bond was even a twinkle in his father's eye). But the HSBC boss has been around for 45 years, working his way up the ranks from the shop floor.
Some will look on Bond as simply the eccentric bloke who allegedly went around turning the lights off at HSBC's Canary Wharf HQ building, long after the rest of the staff had gone home. Or the man who, even when he became chairman in 1998, often travelled to work by public transport. But that's just the frills. Under his watch, HSBC has grown into a truly global banking giant. The third largest bank by market value, behind Citigroup and Bank of America (just), HSBC has grown under Bond, mainly by acquisition, to have 250,000 staff and in excess of 100 million customers. And you rarely see HSBC in the news for the wrong reasons. Bond has managed to build up his bank in his own image - strong, resolute, fair and ethical.
And, although Stephen Green will certainly want to create his own HSBC legacy, it will always be Sir John Bond who will be remembered as the main that really put the bank on the map. Many will join us in hoping that he enjoys a long and happy retirement.