HSBC is closing its private banking arm in India, where the increasing number of wealthy individuals has led to intense competition for their business. Clients will be given the choice to move to HSBC’s retail arm. The future of the wealth management unit’s 70 staff will be decided early next year, when it is due to close. It follows the lead of RBS and Morgan Stanley, which have sold their onshore private operations in Asia’s third-largest economy. Despite the growth in the number of multi-millionaires and a fast-growing wealth management market in India, it has been hard for foreign banks to attract business. Indian companies can appeal to investors in small as well as large cities. They are not weighed down by high costs and international regulatory restrictions.
In June, HSBC chief executive Stuart Gulliver announced the bank was going to cut thousand of jobs from its global workforce as part of his restructuring programme. Since taking over his role in 2011, he has sold scores of businesses and taken on more compliance staff to deal with the increased regulatory oversight of the industry. An HSBC spokesperson in India said: “This marks further progress in the HSBC group strategy to simplify business and deliver sustainable growth.” The bank employs about 32,000 people in India, where it offers corporate, retail and investment banking services.