Global Excellence in Leadership 2020: HSBC thinks global and acts local
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Global Excellence in Leadership 2020: HSBC thinks global and acts local

The new chief executive of HSBC had announced a big cost-cutting programme just before Covid hit. He was smart enough to pause it and encourage local staff around the world, even in locations where the redundancies were set to fall, to back their customers with quick loan decisions. Noel Quinn discusses the bank’s impressive response.


Laurent Lagueny, HSBC’s head of trade financing in France, was so concerned his client would fail to deliver food to a French supermarket, he jumped in his car and made a 62-mile desperate dash to save their gigots.

The bank’s trade team in Paris had received an anxious call from a wholesaler to say that a €150,000 import of Australian lamb was stuck in port because lockdown had delayed the processing of documentation.

Lagueny drove the paperwork to the port, presented it to the authorities and released the consignment so the client didn’t let down its customer and Parisians stuck indoors could at least tuck into their Easter dinner.

In China, 4,000 shipping containers of meat got stranded, threatening to leave butcher’s shelves empty. HSBC trade finance staff worked flat out to process 250,000 pages of documents, including 2,000 import bills from 1,000 couriers for a leading supplier.


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