HomeBusinessHSBC bankers enjoy a £2.6bn bonus bonanza as profits soar

HSBC bankers enjoy a £2.6bn bonus bonanza as profits soar


HSBC bankers enjoy a £2.6bn bonus bonanza as profits soar thanks to the pandemic takeover boom


More than 450 bankers at HSBC were paid at least one million euros last year as profits soared.

The bank said 451 members of staff collected over €1million or £834,000 – with one unnamed high-flyer falling into the £9.2million to £10million bracket.

Chief executive Noel Quinn was also in the money, scooping a package that could add up to £9million if he hits certain targets over the next three years. 

In the money: HSBC boss Noel Quinn (left) scooped a package that could add up to £9m while NatWest chief Alison Rose (right) earned £3.6m, up from £2.6m a year

The Birmingham-born 61-year-old was paid £4.9million in 2021 and handed ‘long-term incentive’ awards that could rake in another £4.1million.

Many of the best-paid staff worked in the lucrative investment bank, which cashed in on the takeover boom in the wake of the pandemic.

HSBC said 507 ‘material risk takers’ in the investment bank shared a bonus pot of £302million – up 53 per cent from a year earlier, and worth £596,000 per head.

That was on top of their £479,000 average salary. Those who particularly impressed bosses will have got much more than others.

HSBC revealed its total bonus pool for all workers hit £2.6billion – up almost a third on last year, and the highest since 2014.

The average worker pocketed £54,678 in total pay and benefits, a 12 per cent increase on 2020. This is much lower than in the investment bank as it includes staff in branches and call centres.

Staley share freeze 

Barclays is to freeze millions of pounds in share awards to its ex-boss following a probe into his relationship with paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.

It will stop Jes Staley cashing in shares he was due to claim, following awards in previous years, Sky News said.

Staley left Barclays last November after the Financial Conduct Authority probed how he characterised his relationship with Epstein. The probe, which was not made publicly available, was not favourable towards Staley.

The US banker vowed that he would challenge its findings, which could take years. Staley, 65, holds 9.47million unvested shares which are still subject to performance conditions, and 1.9million unvested shares free of conditions, according to Barclays’ 2020 annual report.

These would be worth more than £21.5million on yesterday’s price. Barclays declined to comment.

Justifying the remuneration, HSBC said it was having to do its best to recruit and retain staff in an ‘extraordinarily competitive labour market’.

Demand for IT staff, tech workers and bankers across Asia, where HSBC makes most of its money, was particularly high, Quinn said.

Its profits increased by £6.4billion to £13.9billion, driven by the release of cash which the bank had set aside to cover losses during the pandemic.

As the global economy begins to recover, banks have breathed a sigh of relief as the expected wave of company collapses and redundancies failed to materialise.

Over the year, HSBC released around £683million ,having squirrelled away £6.5billion in 2020 to cover potential losses.

But the bank did admit to suffering a knock from the creaking Chinese property market, as developers such as Evergrande struggled to pay their debts.

It set aside £331million to cover the potential fallout. It was previously adamant that it did not expect a ‘material’ hit from chaos in the property market.

Brushing off the issue, Quinn was optimistic that rising interest rates around the world would boost future performance. 

He said: ‘After absorbing the impact of low interest rates for some time, we believe we have turned the corner on revenue.’ 

Banks tend to make more money when rates are higher, as they can lift borrowing charges while failing to push up rates paid on savings by as much.

The sunnier outlook prompted HSBC to bring forward its profitability target by a year, kick off a share buyback worth up to £736million, and announce a dividend of $0.18 (13p) per share. 

The stock rose during early trading, but ended the day flat at 547p.

Quinn noted that the prospect of a war in Ukraine was ‘a concern’. HSBC has around 200 employees in Moscow, and has no plans to move them. 

But Quinn said: ‘Any military action would be a concern with respect to collateral damage on the markets.’

It also revealed it was being probed by US regulators over alleged misuse of messaging service Whatsapp. 

Wall Street titan JP Morgan has already been fined £147million for allowing staff to use the mobile phone app to discuss work, as they were able to circumvent record-keeping rules.

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