HSBC A brief history
HSBC in the Asia-Pacific region
HSBC in Europe
HSBC in the Middle East
HSBC in the Americas
The making of the modern HSBC Group
Principal members of the HSBC Group
Cover: A detail of some of the images displayed on the HSBC History Wall at the HSBC Head Office in London. A major work of art designed and built by Thomas Heatherwick Studio, the History Wall comprises nearly 4,000 images relating to HSBC’s history around the world.
Below, left: The HSBC History Wall seen from the main entrance of the HSBC Head Office in London. Centre: Postcard sent in 1903, showing the offices of The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation in Hong Kong. Right: Advertisement promoting business accounts, issued by Midland Bank in 1968.
HSBC was born from one small idea – a local
bank serving international needs. In March 1865,
HSBC opened its doors for business in Hong
Kong and today it welcomes customers all over
The intervening years have formed the character
of HSBC. Its experiences have created its core
strengths of resilience, adaptability and capability
for innovation. A glance at its history explains
why it believes in capital strength, strict cost
control and in building long-term relationships
with customers. HSBC has weathered change
in all forms – revolutions, economic crises, new
technologies – and has adapted to survive.
Growth has come organically and through
strategic acquisitions, and these purchases have
brought their own strengths and cultures to the
Group. The resulting corporate character of
HSBC enables it to meet the challenges of the
financial world of today and tomorrow.
View of Hong Kong waterfront in the 1860s when HSBC opened its doors for business. The bank’s first office is on the far left.
This brief history introduces the major events,
decisions and personalities that have made
HSBC what it is today.
Celebrating the opening of a new HSBC branch in Shanghai in June 2007.
Below, left: Staff of the Imperial Bank of Persia’s chief office in Tehran in 1934. Centre: The 1866 annual report of the Citizens’ Savings Bank. The business later became part of the Republic National Bank of New York. Right: HSBC’s hexagon symbol is installed at the top of the new HSBC Head Office at 8 Canada Square, London.
Head Office at
8 Canada Square,
Below: Map showing
the offices of the
Headquartered in London, HSBC Holdings plc
is one of the largest banking and financial
services organisations in the world. HSBC’s
international network comprises around 7,200
offices in 85 countries and territories in Europe,
the Asia-Pacific region, the Americas, the Middle
East and Africa.
Through an international network linked
by advanced technology, HSBC provides a
comprehensive range of financial services to
individuals, businesses and institutions. In total,
HSBC serves over 85 million personal and almost
3.6 million commercial customers. To meet the
needs of these customers, HSBC employs around
300,000 employees speaking over 100 languages.
At 31 December 2012, HSBC’s total assets
amounted to just over US$2,500 billion.
Although the Group’s holding company, HSBC
Holdings plc, was formed as recently as 1991,
many of its principal constituent companies
opened for business over a century ago and have
long experience in their home and international
markets. The story of the growth and development
of these companies is rich in variety and
achievement, with an international pedigree
that is unique in banking history.
This brief history describes the origins and
evolution of the companies that make up the
HSBC Group. The history concludes with a
summary of the far-reaching changes in recent
Links: services, mechanising its systems (from 1928) and
advertising its activities.
services, including personal loans (1958), personal
cheque accounts (1958) and cheque cards (1966).
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