Ian Stuart, HSBC
“UK Plc has got itself into a strong position – and that’s what gives me confidence”
Founded in Hong Kong in 1865, last year marked HSBC’s 150th anniversary. Initially offering trade finance and payment facilities, we have since developed our offering and adapted with the world to remain a key player in the dynamic global financial markets we see today. An anniversary such as this is a prompt for reflection and while we have evolved over the past 150 years, our fundamental objectives remain the same, to connect customers to opportunities, to serve their international needs and ultimately to enable businesses to flourish. It is always about the customer and we take real comfort that the first business to open a current account in 1865 remains a customer today.
Winston Churchill said: “Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.” Longevity and adaptability demand real courage and clarity of purpose.
Today, we all need courage to face headwinds including Moody’s recent downbeat report on the global economy, which forecasts ‘global shock waves in growth’, driven by government policies around rates and lower government spending/debt reductions.
Notwithstanding these challenges, I believe 2015 will prove to have been a strong year for UK-based companies as corporates across many sectors continue to thrive. Growth in Britain is up by over 6% from its pre-recession peak and HSBC Corporate Banking in the UK has grown its market share in the past two years from 13% to 20%. The bank continues to focus on investment in the territories that increasingly dominate the global trade corridors, UK, US, China and Hong Kong, now delivering over $23bn of goods and services.
My personal view, however, is that UK Plc has got itself into a strong position through intelligent and prudent balance sheet management and cost control, innovation and improved productivity. And that’s what gives me confidence. Ease of access to capital has never been more straightforward, borrowing costs are at record lows, and prospects for early rate rises in 2016 are diminishing all the time. There has never been a better time to be confident and seek international growth. Our strategic aim is to capture those trade flows for our customers. This June, businesses from around the world are meeting in Liverpool as part of the International Festival for Business and HSBC will be there.
We look forward to connecting businesses to new opportunities. Through our expert sector knowledge and global connectivity, HSBC is here to support you.