By Lyndsey Hall
The British high street faces yet more changes this year, as HSBC bank plans to rebrand its branches once the legally imposed ring-fencing of the customer-facing side of the business is complete. Almost 2 years after Lloyds and TSB went their separate ways, splitting their branches 70/30, HSBC’s branch network could revert to the Midland Bank brand, or bring its online brand First Direct to the high street.
According to brand tracking data, customer perception of the HSBC brand has slumped in the wake of recent scandals, so a refresh couldn’t come at a better time. As well as the name change, HSBC intends to close 12% of branches worldwide, and cut 25,000 jobs, 8,000 of which will be UK based. The bank’s headquarters will also move from London to Birmingham, lending credibility to the Midland Bank rumour.
Hong Kong Shanghai Banking Corporation has been a staple of the British high street since the early 1990s, after acquiring a 14.9% share of Midland Bank in 1987, and rebranding the bank’s branches to fit in with the HSBC Group image. As a result of the Libor scandal of 2008, ring-fencing laws, which are due to come into effect in 2019, have forced the separation of the bank’s customer-facing sector from the riskier investment banking side.
HSBC recently came under fire again, this time for assisting customers of its Swiss private banks to avoid paying tax, and has been fined $43million in lieu of prosecution for money laundering; almost 0.03% of its market value. HSBC isn’t the only bank to come under scrutiny since the Banking Reform Bill of 2013, Lloyds has recently been fined £117million for mishandling of PPI claims.
What are your thoughts on the possible return of Midland Bank to our high streets? Would you welcome the change? What could the disappearance of HSBC mean to customers? Join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter or leave a comment.
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