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HSBC to hire 3,000 wealth planners in China amid rising tension

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HSBC Holdings is planning a big boost to its wealth management staff in China in a bid to lift its sagging profits, increasing its presence in the face of mounting political tensions between Beijing and Western governments.

[HONG KONG] HSBC Holdings is planning a big boost to its wealth management staff in China in a bid to lift its sagging profits, increasing its presence in the face of mounting political tensions between Beijing and Western governments.

In conjunctions with its earnings release on Monday, which revealed first-half profit halved, the bank said it's targeting to hire 2,000 to 3,000 wealth planners within four years in China. The first 100 new people have already started in Guangzhou and Shanghai, it said.

London-based HSBC, which makes more than half of its revenue and almost all of its profits in Asia, is walking a political tightrope in its attempts to further push into the world's most populous nation. The move is taking place at a time when the bank is handling criticism over its dealings with Huawei Technologies and an endorsement to China's controversial security law on Hong Kong.

"Current tensions between China and the US inevitably create challenging situations for an organisation with HSBC's footprint," chief executive Noel Quinn said in a statement on Monday. "However, the need for a bank capable of bridging the economies of east and west is acute, and we are well placed to fulfill this role."

The lender said on Monday it's looking at further measures to boost performance, speeding up a plan that will see it pivot more to Asia while cutting back in Europe and the US. HSBC also said it's accelerating restructuring of its businesses while cutting 35,000 jobs across the group.

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Even so, the bank reported a US$26 million loss for its wealth and personal banking business in China in the first half, versus an overall pretax profit of US$1.5 billion in the country.

The new investments mark HSBC's efforts to capture high-growth opportunities in Asia, particularly in mainland China, the region's biggest wealth pool and one of the world's largest insurance markets, Greg Hingston, HSBC's head of wealth and personal banking in the Asia-Pacific, said in a statement last month.

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