The FINANCIAL — HSBC made a profit before tax of US$11,104 million, an increase of US$6,085 million, or 121 per cent, compared with the first half of 2009.
Net interest income of US$19,757 million was US$781 million, or 3.8 per cent, lower than the first half of 2009.
Net operating income before loan impairment charges and other credit risk provisions of US$35,551 million was US$810 million, or 2.3 per cent, higher than the first half of 2009.
Total operating expenses of US$18,111 million increased by US$1,453 million, or 8.7 per cent, compared with the first half of 2009. On an underlying basis, and expressed in terms of constant currency, operating expenses increased by 5 per cent.
HSBC's cost efficiency ratio was 50.9 per cent compared with 47.9 per cent in the first half of 2009.
Loan impairment charges and other credit risk provisions were US$7,523 million in the first half of 2010, US$6,408 million lower than the first half of 2009.
The Directors have declared a second interim dividend for 2010 of US$0.08 per ordinary share, a distribution of approximately US$1,401 million.
The core tier 1 ratio and tier 1 ratio for the Group remained strong at 9.9 per cent and 11.5 per cent, respectively, at 30 June 2010.
The Group's total assets at 30 June 2010 were US$2,418 billion, an increase of US$54 billion, or 2.3 per cent, since 31 December 2009.
Group financial performance strongly ahead
At HSBC, we have a clear and distinctive strategy. It is to rebalance the Group towards the needs of a fast-changing global economy, while keeping our strong capital and liquidity position. Our focus is therefore to build upon our unrivalled franchise in emerging markets, while delivering connectivity for our customers everywhere in an increasingly connected world. That HSBC delivered a strongly improved performance in the first half of 2010 is in large part thanks to this strategy and our success in repositioning and transforming the business to deliver on it.
"Our Personal Financial Services and Commercial Banking businesses delivered significantly improved results, adding to another very strong performance in Global Banking and Markets. On a reported basis, pre-tax profits more than doubled to US$11.1 billion compared with the first half of 2009, including the impact of movements on the fair value on our own debt relating to credit spreads. Underlying pre-tax profits1 increased by 30 per cent to US$9.6 billion year-on-year, driven by significantly reduced loan impairment charges," HSBC says.
With regulatory change ahead, capital and funding strength will become even more important in deciding which banks can grow and which are left behind. Maintaining our strong balance sheet therefore remains core to our banking philosophy. We further strengthened our tier 1 capital through underlying profit generation and capital issuance. We increased our tier 1 capital ratio to 11.5 per cent, we grew our core tier 1 ratio to 9.9 per cent and the outcome of the EU-wide stress test exercise by the Committee of European Banking Supervisors in July2 confirmed the robustness of our capital position. Our ratio of customer advances to deposits remained steady at under 80 per cent, providing a broad indication of our funding strength and keeping our distinctive liquidity position.
As one of the industry's leading dividend payers, HSBC recognises the importance of dividend income to all our shareholders, not least our many retail investors. We declared dividends on ordinary shares of US$2.8 billion in respect of the first half of the year including a second interim dividend of eight US cents per ordinary share, payable on 6 October 2010. Return on average total shareholders' equity improved to 10.4 per cent on a reported basis and was 9.3 per cent excluding the impact of movements on the fair value of our own debt related to credit spreads. As we reduce our run-off portfolios, we believe shareholders' continuing support of HSBC will be rewarded with improving returns – albeit towards the lower end of the target range – in the medium term.
Once again, emerging economies led the global recovery in the first half. Government infrastructure investment continued apace, while flows of cross-border trade and investment sustained their rapid recovery. We continued to rebalance our assets steadily towards the world's emerging markets and to build new revenue streams across the Group, positioning the business for sustainable growth.
Despite increasing economic uncertainty towards the end of the period, we saw appetite for credit grow steadily, especially among our business customers. This is now feeding through into lending growth, a trend we expect to continue. In the first half of the year, we added assets in targeted segments to the balance sheet, more than offsetting the effect of the run-off in our exit portfolios. We grew loans and advances to customers in all regions and by four per cent overall, compared with the end of 2009. Geographically, the strongest growth was in Asia, where we grew lending by 15 per cent. In Commercial Banking we grew lending by nine per cent globally.
We gained share of international trade volumes, made progress in building our Insurance and Wealth Management businesses, and expanded our advisory services in Global Banking and Markets. As a result, fee income rose overall outside the US.
Overall, revenues were broadly in line with the second half of 2009. However, as we expected, they were lower than in the first half, given the exceptional market conditions in that period, especially in Global Banking and Markets. This also reflected our success in reducing and repositioning Personal Financial Services portfolios away from Consumer Finance and other unsecured lending products.
As we focus on building a high quality asset base for the future, it is encouraging that loan impairment charges now stand at their lowest levels since the start of the financial crisis. They almost halved overall, reducing by US$6.8 billion to US$7.5 billion year-on-year. This reflects the benefit of more stable economic conditions for many of our customers and follows our actions, begun before the crisis, to reduce exposure to unsecured lending outside our key relationships, to exit unprofitable business lines and to tighten underwriting standards for new business.
We continued to invest in expanding the business and transforming our operations. However, we did so with a focus on cost control. As a result, our cost efficiency ratio was only slightly above our target range at 53.1 per cent. Costs were broadly unchanged, excluding the impact of the one-off pension gain in the first half of 2009, and the UK and French payroll taxes on 2009 bonuses and pension curtailment accounting gain in the US which were accounted for in the current period. Overall, operating expenses were five per cent higher.
Profitable in every region outside North America
In Asia, performance was comfortably ahead, with pre-tax profits increasing by 20 per cent to US$5.6 billion. As levels of trade activity improved from the lows of a year ago and demand for credit, investment and insurance products increased, we continued to meet our customers' growing financial needs. The contribution of Asian profits generated outside Hong Kong grew to 50 per cent, underlining our growing presence across the region.
Pre-tax profits in Latin America increased by 36 per cent to US$0.9 billion, largely driven by improved credit experience in our retail businesses as we ran off higher risk consumer portfolios.
In the Middle East, pre-tax profits were down by 39 per cent at US$393 million but were well ahead of the second half of 2009. Loan impairment charges were modestly higher year-on-year but more than halved in comparison with the second half of 2009 as credit delinquency trends improved. We have seen customer activity beginning to pick up and believe the region has a sustainable and strong future.
In Europe, pre-tax profits were strongly ahead in Personal Financial Services and were also higher in Commercial Banking. Overall, they were 19 per cent lower at US$2.8 billion, as Global Banking and Markets revenues reduced from the exceptional first half performance of 2009.
Profits in the UK accounted for 52 per cent of the European total. In the UK, we grew international trade volumes and increased mortgage lending. The quality of the new mortgage book is illustrated by a low average loan to value ratio of 53 per cent.
Continental Europe represented 48 per cent of total European pre-tax profits. We strengthened our management team to focus more closely on opportunities for growth across the region and began to centralise our processing operations to deliver greater economies of scale. Despite weak and volatile market conditions, HSBC successfully managed its sovereign risk exposures in respect of Greece, Portugal, Spain and Ireland which were US$4 billion and the overall quality of our sovereign debt portfolio remains strong.
It is an encouraging sign of progress in the US that performance in North America was ahead by some US$2 billion, resulting in a significantly reduced pre-tax loss of US$80 million. Loan impairment charges fell markedly and we made good progress in developing our continuing businesses generally – including Premier, international trade finance, and our Global Banking and Markets business where we continued to support the needs of our Latin American corporate clients.
Our US Consumer Finance run-off portfolios continued to decrease in line with our expectations. We reduced total balances across these portfolios by a further US$10 billion to US$69 billion since the end of 2009. In July, we also agreed in principle to sell the remainder of the vehicle finance loan portfolio and other related assets to an unaffiliated third party. The sale is expected to close in the third quarter of 2010.
Profitable in every customer group
Led by these improvements in the US, Personal Financial Services returned to profit for the first time in two years. Pre-tax profits were US$1.2 billion, following an improvement of US$2.5 billion year-on-year. We benefited from a stronger credit experience, in part driven by improved collections processes. We also saw stronger sales of wealth management, insurance and mortgage products and higher customer deposits.
In Commercial Banking, pre-tax profits were also well ahead, rising by 40 per cent to US$3.1 billion, reflecting an improvement in the economic environment, supported by active portfolio management during the crisis, robust revenues and progress in rebuilding the balance sheet through selective lending growth.
Although pre-tax profits were down 13 per cent at US$5.6 billion, Global Banking and Markets reported its second best performance of any half-year period, reinforcing the success of our emerging markets-led, financing-focused strategy. The business remained highly diversified with the largest revenue stream contributing some 20 per cent of the total. Balance Sheet Management revenues were lower, but they were robust and opportunities remained to redeploy our liquidity efficiently.
Private Banking pre-tax profits were 13 per cent lower at US$0.6 billion, largely due to the impact of low interest rates. However, net new money inflows totalled US$7.3 billion, the majority of which were from emerging markets.
Building on our distinctive strengths
At HSBC, we are very clear about what makes us a different kind of bank and we are building on those strengths that enable us to serve our customers best.
Connecting customers across regions
As we see other companies in all industries working to build global scale, we are thankful for the global reach that comes from 145 years of doing business as an international bank. We are constantly working to harness the connectivity this provides so we can better meet the needs of our international customers.
Global Banking and Markets provides an excellent example of this in action. Our global network allows us to service customers with cross-border trading or financing needs anywhere in the world, by accessing the expertise in our major dealing rooms in centres like London, Paris, New York and Hong Kong. This has helped us to increase the revenue contribution from emerging markets, which grew from 35 per cent to 37 per cent year-on-year.
Reinforcing our position as the world's leading emerging markets bank
In July, Euromoney recognised the breadth and depth of HSBC's presence across the world's faster-growing regions by naming us 'Best Global Emerging Markets Bank'. Throughout the first half, we continued to rebalance our footprint towards these regions and we expect them to account for the majority of global growth for the foreseeable future.
There is no market of greater strategic importance to HSBC than Greater China. We continue to protect and build on our position as the leading international bank in mainland China, where we opened our 100th HSBC-branded outlet and opened a flagship new China Head Office in Shanghai. We are building on our strategic partnerships and subscribed for our full entitlement of H-shares in the Bank of Communications rights issue. We also incorporated locally in Taiwan which will complement our platforms in Hong Kong and mainland China and improve our access to the region.
We are committed to building our presence in India too and so, in July, we announced our third investment in two years through the acquisition of the Indian retail and commercial operations of the Royal Bank of Scotland. This will significantly increase our scale in Asia's third largest economy and give us access to 1.1 million customer relationships. Subject to regulatory approvals, we expect to complete the deal in the first half of 2011.
In June, we also announced an acquisition to increase our presence in Kazakhstan, a fast-growing economy with important trade links to mainland China.
Maintaining our funding strength
One of the key lessons to emerge from the financial crisis was the critical importance of stable liquidity. At HSBC, deposits have always been fundamental to everything we do and they remain the fuel for our future growth.
It is proof of our brand strength that – at a time of low interest rates and intense competition for savings – we increased customer deposit balances by three per cent to US$1,147 billion during the period. The effect on our profits of low deposit spreads remains significant, but I believe HSBC is a bank well positioned to benefit from a progressive rise in interest rates. Just as important as the financial returns, our liquidity position means we can respond to new growth opportunities as soon as they emerge – not least in Asia, where our funding base is particularly strong.
Building a customer base for tomorrow
There is no greater opportunity for HSBC in Personal Financial Services than serving the needs of the world's 180 million mass affluent individuals. These customers are typically highly mobile, with significant cross-border requirements that play to our strengths as a global bank.
Premier is our flagship product for this sector and we are on track to build our customer base to six million by the end of 2011. In June, the monthly increase in Premier customer numbers reached 100,000 and, at the end of the period, total numbers reached 3.9 million. Revenues from Premier customers can be over four times that generated by a standard account in the current interest rate environment. Furthermore, wealth management products account for an increasing proportion of Premier revenues, highlighting our ability to manufacture and deliver a full suite of products of real value to affluent customers over their lifetimes. Looking to the longer term, we have now also launched Advance in 22 countries, an international proposition for the next generation of potential Premier customers.
As trade volumes recover and the direction of global investment shifts, international business customers have continued to turn to HSBC and to benefit from our global scale and connectivity across the world's emerging and developed markets. In Commercial Banking, international customers typically generate more than double the revenues of domestically focused companies and we grew this customer base by 16 per cent. Building relationships with small and medium-size companies is also core to our future growth strategy, and we increased these customer numbers by three per cent to 3.3 million, with 84 per cent of new customers in emerging markets.
Within Global Banking and Markets, we are focusing on building broad-based relationships with those international customers where we are best equipped to meet their full range of financial needs and we have the greatest opportunity to grow revenues. Working together, Private Banking and Global Banking and Markets launched a family office partnership to provide better, more holistic relationship management, for our wealthiest clients. Private Banking also continued to focus on developing business in emerging markets and was recognised as 'Best Global Wealth Manager' by Euromoney in July.
Building sustainable revenue streams for the future
With a very clear understanding of our customers and their future needs, we are carefully developing our range of products and services in response. We are targeting those areas where we know HSBC has distinctive strengths, where the revenue opportunity is big enough to make a difference and where the risk-adjusted returns are most attractive.
Expanding our wealth management offering
People in most of our key markets are living longer and demanding longer-term financial products, presenting great opportunities to grow our wealth management business. We are increasing share in key markets including Hong Kong, the UK and Canada and developing new products to meet the needs of our Premier customers. In 2009, we launched World Selection, a dynamically managed multi-manager fund product, bringing a diverse range of international assets to our local retail customers. In the first half of 2010, we extended the product to 21 countries and increased funds under management by 59 per cent to US$4.1 billion. We also launched five new Exchange Traded Funds ('ETF's) and, in July, announced the launch of our first emerging market ETF for Brazil as we continue to make low-cost access to global markets available for our retail customers.
Building our emerging market insurance platforms
As growth in demand for insurance in emerging markets accelerates, we are investing for the future with encouraging success, particularly in Asia and Latin America. Our ambition is to be the leading international bancassurer in Asia within the next decade.
We have already built a leading life insurance business in Hong Kong through our integrated bancassurance strategy. In mainland China, HSBC Life has grown rapidly within its first year of operation. In India, our joint venture with Canara Bank and Oriental Bank of Commerce is a top 12 international insurer in the country after two years of operation. Our commitment to Asia was further underlined in January when we increased our investment in Vietnam – one of the fastest-growing ASEAN economies – by increasing our stake in Bao Viet Holdings from ten to 18 per cent.
In Latin America, sales of insurance products increased and we continued to tailor our proposition to different customer segments and successfully launched new products in Mexico and Brazil.
Extending our leadership in international trade
International trade is set to grow faster than GDP for the foreseeable future and our own research shows that the trade finance needs of most mid-sized companies are growing quickly. Thanks to our global connectivity and local knowledge, we are meeting these needs. HSBC's export-related trade volume continued to grow steadily and we progressively gained market share during the period.
To support the growing flows between emerging and developed economies, we are moving the right people and skills to the right places and, as the leading international emerging markets bank, we are particularly well placed to support the growing flows of 'South-South' trade. In Commercial Banking, we are seeing a rapid increase in trade flows between Latin America and mainland China and we are transferring bankers from Europe, the US and Latin America to mainland China and Hong Kong. In Global Banking, we transferred bankers from our Latin American operations into HSBC offices in mainland China, and set up a reciprocal China desk in Brazil.
Capturing the outflows from mainland China
I believe that the re-emergence of China's economy will drive the biggest change to global trade patterns in the generation ahead. We expect mainland China's total trade flows with the rest of the world to grow by some 13 per cent a year over the next five years to US$5 trillion.
Mainland Chinese companies expanding overseas accounted for about half of new customer growth in Commercial Banking in Hong Kong over the past twelve months. We also aim to be the pre-eminent international bank in renminbi trade, settlement and bond issuance, as regulations change and the offshore renminbi market gradually develops. In Hong Kong, HSBC had a significant share of the cross-border clearance market and we expect to grow this further in the second half of the year. In June, we executed the first cross-border renminbi transaction in the UK and we aspire to be the first international bank to execute transactions across six continents. In July, we also acted as sole bookrunner and lead manager for the first ever offshore renminbi certificate of deposit issue, which provides a new investment vehicle for market participants to manage portfolio risk.
Building out our equity platform
Over the past 15 years, HSBC has built a world-class debt capital market platform in the world's faster-growing markets, something Euromoney recognised when they named us 'Best Global Emerging Markets Debt House' in July. We are now leveraging these customer relationships and building out our equities platform in a co-ordinated and selective way across Advisory, Equity Capital Markets, Research and Distribution. We are expanding in Hong Kong, mainland China, India, the Middle East, Brazil and Mexico and developing our European business in the UK, France and Germany. This will enable us to deliver a comprehensive range of Equities products to key institutional clients and personal, commercial and private banking customers alike. During the period, we made key hires, continued to invest in our trading and infrastructure platform, and gained market share in Asia and Europe.
Growing our leadership in Islamic finance
Islamic finance is a fast-developing industry, currently growing at over 20 per cent a year. HSBC Amanah represents the largest and most comprehensive Islamic proposition of any international bank, with successful operations in the UK, the Middle East and Asia-Pacific. We continued to expand our product range across our customer groups and we were delighted to be recognised as Euromoney's 'Best International Islamic Bank' and 'Best Sukuk House' in 2010. In the first half of the year, we were the global lead underwriter for sukuk and we launched an Amanah Premier proposition in four markets in the Middle East and two markets in Asia-Pacific. In July, we opened our first Amanah-only branch in Qatar, the fourth country in which we have established dedicated branches to serve the full range of Islamic banking needs.
Transforming our business infrastructure
Of course, investment in building relationships and expanding our products and services will not be successful unless we continuously invest to improve customer service and deliver greater efficiency.
Above all, we are delivering a better and more consistent experience for our customers. This year, we will refresh, refurbish or expand over 1,000 branches including more than 200 in the UK, and we have begun a three-year programme to invest over US$500 million in our Latin American branch network. We have taken the first steps towards improving the account opening experience across our retail businesses which will, over time, free our staff to focus directly on customer needs.
We are also investing in adding front-line staff, to improve relationship management and drive future sales growth. In Personal Financial Services, we aim to recruit 1,000 additional relationship managers and other customer-facing staff this year to support the development of Premier. In Private Banking, we have begun a three-year programme to add up to 500 customer-facing staff covering key markets in Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. In Commercial Banking, we are recruiting up to 500 relationship managers and business specialists to drive business expansion in Brazil and Mexico.
At the same time, we are transforming our operations to create a more efficient, better connected bank. In Latin America, we are joining up our sites across the region so we can better compete with bigger local competitors. One example is the centralisation of our trade operations in Panama, which has allowed us to deliver a better, more consistent customer experience across a number of countries. We have adopted a new collections call model, allowing us to export our best practice in the US across the Group and, in the Middle East, this has led to a 40 per cent reduction in the number of outbound calls.
We also continued to improve our direct channels. As a result, one million small and medium-size business customers used our Business Internet Banking platform and we grew the number of users of our online platform for larger commercial customers, HSBCnet, by 17 per cent to 55,000.
Thanks to these important initiatives and the dedication and focus of all of our staff, we are making measurable progress in improving customer satisfaction. Among Business Banking customers, we have exceeded our brand health scores in a number of key markets. Meanwhile, among our Personal Financial Services customers, our ambition is to achieve a top three ranking for customer recommendation in all 15 markets that we track. We are already in the top three for nine of these markets. All of this is helping to reinforce the strength of our brand and we were delighted to be named the top banking brand by Brand Finance for the third year running in 2010.
Well positioned for the shifting economy and for regulatory change
Global demand will remain constrained as long as we face the likelihood of anaemic growth in various Western nations. But while these economies come to terms with austerity, we remain bullish on the outlook for emerging markets – both short and long-term. Some cooling off is possible, however I am confident that the authorities in leading economies like China can and will continue to deliver sustainable growth and support domestic demand.
Regulatory change is now beginning to move up a gear, and HSBC's capital strength positions us strongly for change. HSBC is preparing for a period which will be characterised by further intense public and political scrutiny of banks in the West and a complex compliance environment with a higher level of intervention by regulators. Meanwhile, finalising the shape of the global regulatory framework remains the most urgent challenge for the industry and its supervisors. Greater clarity is required, however reform is clearly moving in the right overall direction. Our collective responsibility now is to get the details and the timetable right so trade and capital can flow freely and banks are able to play their full part in financing these flows and supporting economic growth.
The West is realising that it does not have all the answers and the commitment of the G20 in driving forward the reform agenda is promising, with policymakers in emerging markets playing an increasing part. We believe it is essential that all G20 members participate according to the same rules, otherwise we will end up with an uneven playing field that looks very different depending on where a company is headquartered. In a global marketplace where businesses and people are mobile, one country cannot afford to pursue its own particular policy agenda without considering the possible unintended consequences for the wider economy.
Finally, we believe that HSBC's results over the past decade – and throughout the latest crisis – prove that a well-balanced, universal banking model of scale really works. We have weathered the storms in different regions and in different sectors precisely because our business is large, broad and diverse. As we continue to debate the shape of the regulatory framework, it remains our view that the financial system needs banks which are 'big enough to cope.' Soundly-managed universal banks not only contribute to financial stability – but are also best placed to support economic growth by meeting the full range of customer needs in our globalised, connected world.