HSBC executive axed amid retail strategy shake-up

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The Independent Online

Michael Geoghegan, the recently appointed head of HSBC's UK bank, has fired a senior executive as part of his plans to shake up radically the giant financial institution's core retail business.

Michael Geoghegan, the recently appointed head of HSBC's UK bank, has fired a senior executive as part of his plans to shake up radically the giant financial institution's core retail business.

Rod Duke, who was the general manager of retail services, and in charge of HSBC's branch network, left the bank just over a week ago after a dispute with Mr Geoghegan over the group's future strategy.

Mr Geoghegan, who was promoted to chief executive of the UK arm of HSBC from his role as head of HSBC's South American operations, is known as an aggressive cost-cutter who is not keen on unnecessary layers of head office administration. It is likely that more senior figures will face the axeas Mr Geoghegan clamps down on the number of managerial jobs within the bank.

Analysts have pointed out for some time that HSBC runs a costlier operation in its retail bank than its main competitors. While that is partly due to the fact that this part of the bank has to bear the costs for HSBC's head office and investment bank, its senior management is still keen to improve its performance compared with some of the other big banks.

Mr Geoghegan, who replaced Bill Dalton as the chief executive of HSBC bank, is thought to be keen to free up money to invest in customer-facing jobs, such as those in its branch network. He is taking over the UK-based business at a time when a number of chief executives of Britain's five biggest banks have said they are focusing on fighting the opposition on service levels, and their basic offerings in current accounts, savings and mortgages.

Eric Daniels, the chief executive of Lloyds TSB, has sold off almost all of the lender's foreign operations to focus on its core retail proposition. Luqman Arnold, the chief executive of Abbey, has also laid out his plan to revive the fortunes of Britain's sixth biggest bank.

HSBC does not have the same need to squeeze strong growth out of its UK operations, which only account for 25 per cent of its business. However, the bank, which had pursued a strategy called "managing for value",has now embarked on a new strategy of "managing for growth", under which it wants to drive all of its lines of business more aggressively.

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