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HSBC on track to unsettle the top five

Merrill Lynch has been the centre of interest and rumour over the past year because of its efforts to build up its forex business, but another firm, HSBC, has been quietly adding staff, refocusing its business, and climbing up the forex rankings.

HSBC has always had a regional presence comparable to Citigroup's and a respectable investment banking business, but it has not recently matched those two competencies together to bring real benefits in the highly competitive forex market.

Now, finally, it does seem to be gaining volumes from the groups of clients that are surveyed in this poll. The firm has risen from 12th for overall market share in 2002 to seventh this year - just behind CSFB.

Rob Loewy, the bank's head of forex, is cautiously pleased, although the Euromoney poll does not necessarily quite cover the full range of small retail and corporate clients that the bank serves. "HSBC has grown its forex business at the same time as the market is awarding a premium to reputation, consistency and capitalization," he says. "In 1998 we were deemed to be a conservative giant. Now we are rewarded."

Combining strengths

Rob Loewy, head of FX, HSBC: new combination of banking strengths

The creation of a unified corporate, investment banking and markets division (CIBM) has helped.

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