Head of communications Jonathan Williams says the amount of investment required, particularly in technology, was another factor behind the decision.
The retail side of the business has been “consistently profitable” and contributed $8.7 million, or 13.3% of pre-tax profit in calendar 2022, the NZ bank's last disclosure statement shows.
“It's not so much about the actual size – our market share in the NZ market is pretty small. We're more of a niche player in this market,” Williams says.
The disclosure statement showed HSBC's mortgage book here was $1.8 billion at Dec 31 with $1.78 billion of that being loans with a less than 80% loan-to-valuation ratio.
Williams says the review was a global exercise over the last couple of years which, for example, led to the sale late last year of HSBC Canada for US$110.1 billion and which is expected to settle late this year.
The global bank wanted “to make sure that it's fit for purpose, ensuring the business around the world aligns with the group's strategic priorities,” he says.
The mainstay of the NZ business has been the commercial and wholesale operations and facilitating cross-border trade.
“It's very much about helping large NZ-based corporates, whether they're NZ corporates or multi-nationals, with their banking needs.”
HSBC will not accept any new retail customers effective immediately.
But because of the contractual nature of much of its NZ retail business, HSBC is expecting it will take a number of years to wind down these operations, with the speed dependent on how quickly customers choose to move to other providers, Williams says.
In the meantime, “we will stand by those contractual obligations.”