The bank provides a range of personal, commercial and corporate banking financial services across Asia. HSBC is known in Cantonese as “Wayfoong”, which means “focus of wealth” or “abundance of remittances.”
HSBC’s founder, Thomas Sutherland, was a Scotsman working in Hong Kong for a large shipping firm. He saw that better banking facilities would support Hong Kong’s commercial growth. Sutherland’s vision was for a new bank, owned and managed locally, which would support international trade.
On 3 March 1865, HSBC opened for business at 1 Queen’s Road, Central. The bank built a succession of modern head offices on the site. The third generation head office, completed in 1935, was the first air-conditioned building in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong’s economy was dominated by shipping and merchant trading. To stimulate and accelerate this trade, HSBC issued banknotes in Hong Kong and China, which were trusted by local merchants as a stable currency. HSBC quickly became Hong Kong’s principal note issuer and remains so today.
The bank faced its greatest test during the Second World War. Most of its Asia network closed and many staff were interned. The bank survived because of large reserves and prudent forward planning, for example deciding to move the head office to London. When the war ended, the head office moved back to Hong Kong and the bank supported the city’s reconstruction, including lending money to restore public utilities, reopen the port, and restart the Star Ferry service.
HSBC aided Hong Kong’s reinvention as a postwar manufacturing centre, granting loans to build cotton mills and textile factories. At the heart of this industrialisation lay the bustling district of Mong Kok, where HSBC opened a branch in 1948. To better serve Hong Kong’s growing population, the bank began expanding its retail branch network throughout the territory.
From the late 1950s the bank began to grow and diversify by acquiring other banks, including Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Bank in 1965. Responding to the Chinese government’s ‘Open Door’ policy in 1979, the bank opened a representative office in Guangzhou as many of its customers began to relocate their operations from Hong Kong to China. HSBC continued to invest and grow in Hong Kong and the surrounding region into the 21st century.
Hong Kong remains the headquarters of The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, and the bank is committed to the future of its birthplace.
Further information about HSBC’s history is available in The HSBC Group: Our Story (PDF, 3.49MB).
For Group’s financial information please visit the investor relations section on our global corporate website. Please visit Subsidiary company reporting page for Hang Seng Bank Limited and The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited and the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited - Macau branch. Please note this is English language only.
To support the bank’s growth into a global financial institution, HSBC invested in new headquarters. Lord Norman Foster’s design was a demonstration of the bank’s commitment to Hong Kong.
The all-steel structure stands 180m high across 52 floors, 4 of which are subterranean. The building broke many construction records and included many design innovations.
For details about HSBC’s global operations and Group board members, go to our corporate website . Please note this is English language only.