The material on this site is for financial institutions, professional investors and their professional advisers. It is for information only. Please read our Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy and Cookiesbefore using this site. Please see our Subscription Terms and Conditions.

All material subject to strictly enforced copyright laws. © 2022 Euromoney, a part of the Euromoney Institutional Investor PLC.

An IO with a view

The culture that powers HongkongBank

What is HSBC?

Sir William Purves's view over the Thames is one of the finest in London. "I don't have time to look at it," says Purves gruffly, getting in a quick spot of work at his desk while he waits for the head of public affairs to arrive. In a room awash with naval landscapes, his thick Scots accent ­ which friends and colleagues invariably try to imitate ­ rings out: "If your question is, when do our short lines of communications cease to work, I'll tell you. The short line breaks when the chief executive or group chairman shuts his door. My door is always open ­ all day ­ unless there is a meeting, and any executive can come and pop his head through the door and say by the way... You don't find that in every organization."

Purves, better known as Willie, joined the bank in 1954. "I can tell you exactly how many international staff there were ­ 255. I was number 255. In those days we published a blue book listing staff by seniority when they joined the bank.

You have reached premium content. Please log in to continue reading.

Read beyond the headlines with Euromoney

For over 50 years, our readers have looked to Euromoney to stay informed about the issues that matter in the international banking and financial markets. Find out more about our different levels of access below.


Unlimited access to and

Expert comment, long reads and in-depth analysis interviews with senior finance professionals

Access the results of our market-leading annual surveys across core financial services

Access the results of our annual awards, including the world-renowned Awards for Excellence

Your print copy of Euromoney magazine delivered monthly

£73.75 per month

Billed Annually


Unlimited access to and, including our top stories, long reads, expert analysis, and the results of our annual surveys and awards

Sign up to any of our newsletters, curated by our editors


Already a user?

We use cookies to provide a personalized site experience.

By continuing to use & browse the site you agree to our Privacy Policy.
I agree