World Economy

HSBC Pre-Tax Profit Down 17%

HSBC Pre-Tax Profit Down 17% HSBC Pre-Tax Profit Down 17%

HSBC has reported a 17% drop in pre-tax annual profit to $18.68b, after the lender was hit by fines for its involvement in the foreign exchange rigging scandal.

The bank’s profits missed the $21.5b that was estimated by analysts following $3.7b in fines, settlements, UK customer redress and associated provisions. Operating costs also cut into earnings, increasing 6.1% to $37.9b, ShareCast reported.

The company also blamed lower gains from business disposals and reclassifications.

Revenue grew to $62b from $61b, driven by a strong performance in its commercial banking division, particularly in Hong Kong and the UK.

Chief executive Stuart Gulliver said 2014 was a “challenging year in which we continued to work hard to improve business performance while managing the impact of a higher operating cost base”.

“Profits disappointed, although a tough fourth quarter masked some of the progress made over the preceding three quarters,” he added.

“Many of the challenging aspects of the fourth quarter results were common to the industry as a whole. In spite of this, there were a number of encouraging signs, particularly in Commercial Banking, Payments & Cash Management and renminbi products and services. We were also able to continue to grow the dividend.”

The dividend was raised to $0.49 per share from $0.48 the previous year.

  Waive Bonuses

HSBC’s top executives were encouraged to waive their bonuses amid accusations the bank helped customers avoid taxes through its Swiss private bank. Gulliver was awarded compensation of £7.6m ($11.6m), compared with £8m the prior year.

“The recent disclosures around unacceptable historical practices and behavior within the Swiss private bank remind us of how much there still is to do and how far society’s expectations have changed in terms of banks’ responsibilities,” the group said in a statement.

“They are also a reminder of the need for constant vigilance over the effectiveness of our controls and the imperative to embed a robust and ethical compliance culture.”

The lender said it was overhauling its private banking business and putting its customers through enhanced due diligence and tax transparency filters.

HSBC’s shares declined 4.63% to 577.20p at 09:34.