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The ups and downs of HSBC’s Mexico way

For the first time since HSBC’s acquisition of a Mexican bank in 2002, its franchise is enjoying positive momentum. Country chief Nuno Matos says more customers and a new culture are key to getting the bank’s market share back.

Mexican retail banks are keen to emphasize the great opportunity that they have to grow by using their existing customer base: improving efficiencies (mostly driven by digital platforms) and boosting the average product sales-per-client ratios have been the growth formula for all the established banks.

This consensus also has the happy by-product of avoiding head-on conflict with competitors and the risk for price wars that could imply.

HSBC Mexico is different – now, anyway. For the first time since 2002, when the bank bought Grupo Financiero Bital for $1.14 billion, HSBC is heading in the right direction – and aggressively so.

Nuno Matos, chief executive since the end of 2015, is transforming a bank whose strategic drift since its acquisition was compounded by a very public fine and a three-year deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) with the US Department of Justice for failing to prevent Mexican drug cartels from laundering hundreds of millions of dollars.

“Since we acquired the bank in 2002, the bank was, for the most part, a non-performing organization,” says Matos. “And that was significantly aggravated when HSBC entered into the famous DPA, when the focus was on creating a robust risk control framework and the business was almost frozen for those three years.

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