HSBC demonstrates the weight of its regulatory burden

LONDON – HSBC's 454-page annual report weighs in at a staggering three pounds. Up from 284 pages in 2001, the bumper report has forced Royal Mail employees to reduce the number of copies they carry at once, due to health and safety issues.

The size of the report has crept up with the expansion of HSBC business in the US and in emerging markets, but this year HSBC has also chosen to include 133 pages dedicated to explaining how the new International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), which came into force in the European Union in 2005, have affected its figures.

In comparison, Berkshire Hathaway's (a conglomerate with revenues of $99 billion) annual report takes up only 82 pages. Newspapers have fallen on this story with relish. HSBC has regularly complained about the weight of regulation being inflicted on the banking industry, and this latest move seems to demonstrate that fact to shareholders and postmen alike.

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