HSBC announced the shock departure of Chief Executive Officer John Flint after just 18 months in the role, saying the bank needed a change at the top to address “a challenging global environment”.
Flint’s exit, which a person familiar with the matter said was a result of differences over execution of his strategy, was disclosed early on Monday along with HSBC’s half-yearly results which had been scheduled for release later in the day.
The departure comes as Europe’s biggest bank is grappling with headwinds including an escalation of a trade war between China and the United States, an easing monetary policy cycle, unrest in the key Hong Kong market and uncertainty about Brexit.
Flint, 51, ran HSBC’s retail and wealth management business before taking over as CEO in February 2018. His appointment was the first major decision taken by the bank’s first externally appointed chairman Mark Tucker, who came on board in late 2017.
While the bank did not elaborate upon the reason for Flint’s sudden departure, a person familiar with the matter said it was a result of differences of opinion between Flint and Tucker over the pace and result of the strategy execution.
The main difference arose from Flint’s softer approach to cutting expenses and setting revenue targets for senior managers to boost profit growth, said the person, declining to be named due to sensitivity of the issue.