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HSBC: In God we trust; all others pay cash

In the midst of the big internal reshuffle at HSBC – with Patrick Nolan and Frank Slevin now running the Americas and Russell Julius moving to Hong Kong – one new appointment last month slipped by almost unnoticed.

Ruth Kelly, the UK’s former education minister, is joining the bank to head its strategy unit examining consumer protection issues and City reform. Kelly has plenty of knowledge of banking reform, having been a key architect of the Financial Services and Markets Act – which was part of the regulatory system widely blamed for failing to pick up the banking crisis – during her time as economic secretary to the Treasury. Clearly HSBC views Kelly as a valuable hire as she’s rumoured to be earning £200,000 a year.

The hire also demonstrates HSBC’s broad-church credentials. Kelly is a devout Catholic with links to the Opus Dei movement, a secretive organization within the Roman Catholic Church. Meanwhile Stephen Green, HSBC’s chairman, is an ordained minister in the Church of England. It’s not just Goldman Sachs that is doing "God’s work".

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