HSBC chief financial officer Ewen Stevenson has quit after seeking the bank’s top job

HSBC’s chief financial officer has decided to leave the company after growing impatient with the timing of the chief executive’s job opening, according to people familiar with the matter.

Ewen Stevenson, 56, has told board members in recent months that he wants to be HSBC’s CEO and doesn’t want to wait too long, people familiar with the matter have said. The board was unwilling to provide a timeline for a change or an assurance that Stevenson would get the job, the people said. CEO Noel Quinn said he plans to stay for several more years.

The London-based bank surprised investors last week by announcing that Stevenson would step down as chief financial officer at the end of the year. The bank said it made the change after reviewing its executive committee with a focus on succession planning. HSBC shares fell 5% after the announcement.

Stevenson, highly regarded by investors and analysts, leaves at a tumultuous time for the bank.

HSBC is Europe’s largest bank by market value. Although based in London, it makes the bulk of its profits in Asia and has been caught in the middle of geopolitical tensions between the West and China.

Earlier this year, its largest shareholder, China’s Ping An Insurance, launched a campaign to reorganize the company – possibly by splitting it up – to increase its shares in Asia and make the bank less beholden to UK regulators. HSBC executives resisted such a move, which they said would undermine its strategy as a bank that connects the world’s regions.

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HSBC hired Stevenson as chief financial officer in January 2019 after having held the same position at NatWest, formerly Royal Bank of Scotland. He spent most of his career at Credit Suisse as a banker advising financial companies.

His exit is the latest sign of upheaval from the banking giant’s management. HSBC has scoured senior management since Chairman Mark Tucker took over in 2017. Tucker appointed a new CEO, John Flint, in 2018, leading to the departure of the last chief financial officer, who also wanted the job of CEO.

In 2019, Tucker said Flint wasn’t moving fast enough on strategy and replaced him with Quinn as CEO designate. For seven months, Quinn fended off other candidates before the position became permanent in 2020. An old guard of executives and some board members have since left.

HSBC announced Stevenson’s expected departure on Oct. 25 alongside the company’s third quarter results.

Quinn said the company had been engaged in extensive restructuring for nearly three years and now was the time to start planning who would eventually succeed him as CEO. Quinn, 60, did not say when he might step down, but said he plans to stay in his role for at least several years.

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To fill the position of chief financial officer, HSBC has appointed veteran investment banker Georges Elhedery, effective January 1. He is now seen as the most likely candidate for the CEO position when it opens up.

The bank botched an earlier succession plan a decade ago, leading its then-CEO Michael Geoghegan to leave when he was denied the post of chairman.

On the earnings call, Quinn said Stevenson had “played a fundamental role in reshaping our portfolio globally, improving our capital efficiency and embedding disciplined management costs across the organization.

Stevenson said he was proud of his time at HSBC and there was “absolutely no disagreement” between him and Quinn over the company’s strategy.

Write to Josh Mitchell at, Margot Patrick at and Julie Steinberg at

This article was published by The Wall Street Journal, another brand of the Dow Jones Group

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