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Flint and Bird: Mapping a corporate rebrand at Abrdn

Douglas Flint, former HSBC chair and current chairman of Abrdn, talks to Euromoney about climate change, his hope for the future and how he convinced CEO Stephen Bird to join the firm over fish and chips and a pint in an Edinburgh pub.

HSBC Group Chairman Douglas Flint speaks at the International Fintech Conference in London
Photo: Reuters

EW: You're in London. You didn’t want to put yourself through 21 days’ quarantine, just to speak at the two-day Asian Financial Forum in Hong Kong [which finished on Tuesday].

DF: We've all learned how to communicate on Teams or Zoom. But the inability to meet face-to-face, to post people to Hong Kong, because they can’t go back and forward to see family as easily as they would pre-Covid, is a constraint to moving people round the world. It is a real issue, and one that I think everyone who has the affection that I have for Hong Kong, wants to see resolved as soon as possible.

EW: Do you see the pandemic becoming endemic and us getting more back to normal this year?

DF: Certainly in the UK, we’re heading towards treating it as endemic. For Asia and certainly Hong Kong, one of the important experiences that will guide where we go is the success of the Beijing Olympics [in February]: the influx of people coming in and who will be screened and tested.