HSBC reaps rewards in US

And gains made in the first quarter of 2004 suggest it is continuing to build that volume "at a very aggressive pace", said Ben Welsh, head of forex trading and sales in New York. "The objective is to be a top-three bank in foreign exchange globally and for North America to be an integral part of that process. Given our momentum, we are very close to achieving that."

HSBC recruited Welsh from Goldman Sachs last January to expand its market share and product offering in North America, bringing it in line with the bank’s businesses in Asia and Europe. "This had been a segment of the market to which HSBC had not committed the full weight of its resources," said Welsh. A large part of that build-up focused on sales and improving co-ordination between centres, he added.

Overall, new business generated from HSBC’s corporate and institutional banking client base rose 80% year-on-year in 2003. Restructuring in the US during 2003 was key to the group’s overall success in foreign exchange for the year with dealing profits doubling year-on-year in the US to $340 million.

The latest in five senior hires to the team in New York over the past six months is David O’Connor, who is set to join on April 7 as a senior vice-president in institutional sales. O’Connor leaves the Royal Bank of Canada in Sydney, where he was director of global treasury services for Asia and brings 15 years of experience to the bank. He will report to Dan Silber, who joined the bank as head of options sales last September. Two new junior hires bring the sales team to its full complement, said Welsh.

"We recognise that, often, the face of the institution is the sales person, so we have put a lot of resources into attracting the best sales people," said Welsh.

HSBC has seen particular success with hedge funds, but corporate business has also grown over recent months, he added. "The bank is truly committed to North America so we are able to leverage our credit rating and balance sheet, which are two very important factors to corporations in deciding who to work with for foreign exchange solutions."

An ongoing build-up in forex options has also seen a number of key hires to business in New York, most recently Mike Zim in the newly created position as head of foreign exchange derivatives, Americas and Toby Hsieh from Lehman Brothers, who also joined in February to manage exotic derivatives in New York.

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