HSBC cuts staff bonus pool, lifts CEO Quinn’s total pay

HSBC cuts staff bonus pool, lifts CEO Quinn's total pay
FILE PHOTO: Pedestrians wearing face masks following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, walk past a HSBC bank branch in Hong Kong, China February 22, 2022. REUTERS/Lam Yik

LONDON: HSBC cut its annual bonus pool by 4 per cent to US$3.4 billion in 2022, the bank said on Tuesday (Feb 21), as a global slump in dealmaking led it to trim awards for its bankers.

Despite the overall bonus cuts for staff, Chief Executive Noel Quinn saw his pay package jump 14 per cent to 5.6 million pounds (US$6.7 million), from 4.9 million pounds the prior year.

Once long-term incentive awards are included, Quinn’s total pay could reach 10.5 million pounds, the bank said.

Quinn told reporters the board set his pay and that the bank’s overall performance was strong, adding that executive bonuses and staff awards would go “in swings and roundabouts”.

HSBC reported a leap in fourth quarter profit to end 2022 but a cautious outlook left some investors pondering whether the boost to earnings from higher central bank rates may already have peaked.

The bank’s bonus pool for staff was slightly smaller than the US$3.5 billion paid last year.

HSBC said it prioritised increasing payouts for high performers in its commercial bank and for more junior staff across the bank, whereas bonuses fell in its global banking and markets arm after a torrid year for deals.

British banks have faced criticism for continuing to pay substantial bonuses while millions of people are being squeezed by rising mortgage rates, the lingering energy crisis and inflation pushing up the cost of everyday goods.

“Rather than imposing more costs on ordinary households, the government should tax the windfall profits of banks,” said Fran Boait, executive director at Positive Money, which campaigns for a fair financial system.

HSBC’s rival NatWest raised its bonus pool by nearly a quarter to 368 million pounds in earnings last week, and bumped up CEO Alison Rose’s pay package to 5.2 million pounds.

Barclays meanwhile trimmed its bonus pool slightly, but still paid out 1.8 billion pounds in bonuses.

Source: Reuters