HSBC, the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking corporation, is one of the biggest banks in the UK and the world. HSBC is a large and stable bank which offers the full range of services including savings, personal and business lending, insurance, investment services, various business services. Although it had quite a lot of exposure to the American sub-prime market, this is not a major element of its offering in the UK. Its business banking is concentrated on its international offerings. Its First Direct brand has been a pioneer of banking without branches, launching in 1989 and conducting all business by post and telephone and more recently via the internet.

Despite its Chinese name and origins, HSBC is incorporated in London, where its global head office is. This office is at 8 Canada Square in the London Docklands, and it was one of the first banks to locate there. It was originally incorporated in Hong Kong, but moved its presence to London in order to prepare for Hong Kong’s transfer of sovereignty from the UK to China. It is now planning to move its head offices back to Hong Kong.

International Group

Internationally HSBC is the world’s biggest bank by assets and the sixth largest company in the world. As its Asian name would suggest HSBC’s roots in the continent have translated into a large presence in many parts of Asia. It is regarded by many commentators as the most international of all the big British based banks. As well as having subsidiaries in a large number of countries, it is listed on five Stock Exchanges (London, Paris, New York, Hong Kong and Bermuda). In the 1990s and early years of the twenty first century it made a number of acquisitions in Brazil, Argentina, France, Turkey, the United States and Bermuda.

The World’s Largest Bank

HSBC has traded on its international reputation with its major series of advertisements talking about the advantages of its global network rather than any expertise in customer service, willingness to lend or other more traditional selling points of a bank. It’s advertising tag line is “The World’s Largest Bank” which it uses in many other markets as well as the United Kingdom..

Hong Kong Roots

The Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation was originally founded in Hong Kong in 1865, which was then under British rule. In the Nineteenth Century it expanded in line with trade routes around Asia, developing substantial presences in places such as China and Jakarta. It had to abandon its Chinese operations when China became a communist state in 1949. It kept its head quarters in Hong Kong until 1993, when it moved as a condition of its takeover of Midland Bank (although the political uncertainty in Hong Kong prior to China taking over the British colony was also a factor).

HSBC Branch Network

The core of the HSBC branch network in the UK is the Midland bank network. This was already a major British bank when it ran into financial trouble in the 1990s and was bought out by HSBC. As part of the deal HSBC became incorporated in London in 1993. Almost every UK customers of HSBC will be banking at an old Midlands bank branch, and is probably an old Midlands customer.

History of Midland Bank

The Midland Bank was originally the Birmingham and Midland Bank and was founded in Birmingham in 1836 for the purpose of converting business bills of exchange into money at a discounted rate, what used to be known as factoring and is now known as discounting. It built a large nationwide presence through the takeover of a number of small, regional banks. It took first the name City and Midland bank and then the name Midland Bank in 1923. By 1934 it was the largest deposit taking bank in the world. It expanded greatly in the UK market in the 1950s and 1960s, buying and operating Thomas Cook for the twenty years from 1972 - the most popular travel agent in the United Kingdom.

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