Sandy Flockhart, one of HSBC's longest-serving bankers, is to stand down as an executive director at the end of this month.
He will then become a non-executive director which – because he is not deemed to be independent under corporate governance rules – means he will be put up for re-election every year.
Mr Flockhart, 60, joined the bank in 1974 and rose to head its Asian operations as chief executive of Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation.
Last year he was paid just over £2.6m. As a non-executive director he will be paid £95,000 a year and he is eligible for a £307,000 a year pension. No replacement has been named for his executive roles.
Douglas Flint, HSBC's chairman, said: "Sandy retires as commercial banking, with which he has been most associated, is the largest profit contributor to the group."