Is HSBC ‘The World’s Local Bank’?
HSBC prides itself on being ‘The World’s Local Bank’, but does this mean that the general public consider it as one of the major players in the UK banking market?
To find out we asked our panel to tell us exactly what they thought of the HSBC brand. What did they like or dislike? Where did they think the company was doing well and where could they improve?
What did the panel think HSBC are doing well?
Our research revealed several key areas where HSBC were particularly successful.
1. Status and reputation
2.Service in branch
Certainly, everyone was familiar with the HSBC brand and recognised it as one of the largest banking corporations in the world. For many of the panel the global status of the company was its greatest asset. The bank’s status assured customers that the company was trustworthy and stable, particularly compared to small or local competitors.
‘I prefer to go with one of the big banks, with a large presence on the high street’ (Alan, 48, Tamworth)
Customers were confident that they could trust HSBC with their money even when they were abroad.
‘It’s a brand known all over the world. Every single county I’ve been to… there’s been a HSBC there’ (Sam, 21, La Montagne)
Some of the respondents said that they currently banked with HSBC and were impressed with the efficiency of the service, the in-branch environment and the technology HSBC used to process payments and transfers quickly.
‘They’re quick to sort out a problem’ (Tenneil, 24, London)
‘Their rates are OK, staff are friendly, the bank outlets are spacious’ (Rob, 38, Colchester)
‘I use their branches for paying in cheques and cash and actually it’s really good for that. They’ve got lots of new technology which saves you having to wait around for a cashier’ (Tom, 25, Truro)
Given that HSBC is primarily a global brand, it is unsurprising that the panel highlighted this as the company’s main marketing focus.
‘It’s about connecting people from different cultures and countries. It’s actually quite warm and welcoming the way their adverts cherish different cultures’ (Kiran, 19, London)
Were there any areas that the panel thought let the HSBC brand down? And where could they improve?
Whilst internationalisation was considered one of HSBC’s strengths, it was also discovered to be it’s main weakness.
The majority of the panel claimed they felt that the global status of the bank made it feel slightly impersonal. They had the impression that HSBC was more concerned with corporate banking than with providing personal accounts for ordinary people.
‘They’re trying to go big with the whole world, but it doesn’t really associate with you’ (Tom, 22, Peterborough)
‘They’re not very fun. They seem very corporate. They’re not very personal or approachable. Cut down the bureaucracy, make it simpler, make it personal’ (Max, 23, Hastings)
With this in mind, a large number of the panel thought that HSBC tailored their rates and advertisements so that they specifically targeted businesses, which meant they sometimes forgot about the ‘little people’. Consequently, people felt that HSBC had ‘disappeared’ from the high street and were therefore losing customers to competitors, such as Barclays and Lloyds, who they felt had a greater presence.
‘I don’t really think of them as a main player in the banking industry […] I always think of them as an international bank, rather than a player in my everyday life’ (Chloe, 31, Bromley)
‘You don’t actually see them on the high-street anymore. You used to see them all over. I think they’re completely lacking visibility.’ (Neil, 52, Sheffield)
Following on from this, lots of the panel discussed how HSBC did not offer many extra benefits with their current accounts. People claimed that HSBC offered low interest rates and little to no rewards compared to other well-known banks.
‘There’s no interest. There’s no cash-back. They don’t really have an advantage compared to other banks’ (Jihao, 20, London)
‘I think they need to concentrate on keeping the customers they’ve already got by offering some sort of loyalty scheme’ (Janine, 34, Chorley)
The absence of a specific student account was also highlighted as a particular disadvantage, meaning that HSBC were missing out on the opportunity to recruit millions of new customers every year.
From this research we were able to identify the key strengths of the HSBC brand and also analyse the areas where they could improve. HSBC has undeniably conquered the global banking market, which has provided many advantages for foreign and travelling customers, as well as for businesses.
However, as a company, HSBC needs to ensure that this expansion doesn’t result in the loss of local customers. The panel felt that HSBC could achieve this by introducing benefits for current accounts and creating adverts that appealed to people’s everyday lives, as well as the entrepreneurial campaigns they currently run. Thus, once HSBC make these improvements they will be able call themselves ‘The World’s Local Bank’.