HSBC’s huge UK rebrand could be a windfall for WPP

Here’s a nice job for somebody: HSBC, miffed that new UK banking regulations mean that its retail bank has to be ring-fenced from its other operations, is to drop the HSBC name and call the retail bank something else. Although it’s not saying what yet.

Fea0007571_19.JPGHSBC (formerly the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation) bought the UK’s Midland Bank 20 years ago and renamed it HSBC. This followed an abortive bid by the Saatchi brothers to buy the troubled bank – those were the days.

Not so nice is the fate of thousands of HSBC employees across the world who are going to be made redundant as the giant bank, hit by a number of scandals, closes branches as part of an attempt to save $5bn.

All the UK banks are being hit by declining numbers of customers through their thousands of branches as more people bank online or use ATMs for routine transactions. But a branch network is still seen as the key to credibility in the market. HSBC’s own non-branch First Direct business has won plaudits for years but still remains quite small.

So some agency or, more likely big marcoms company, is due for a windfall. Step forward WPP whose J. Walter Thompson network was re-assigned HSBC in a review last year.

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