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HSBC exits US mass market retail banking (hsbc.com)
59 points by mgh2 6 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 54 comments


When I moved to the US from the UK, I already had British HSBC accounts, so thought it made sense to open up an HSBC account and credit card. Got a $200 credit limit (thanks?), awful app, terrible customer service...eventually got fed up and closed all my accounts. Good riddance.

Also side note while I’m on the topic - to log into chase and do stuff, I enter my password. That’s it.

To log into HSBC or any other UK bank, you need to enter the 8th, 3rd and 19th letter of your password, app generated security token, digital security key password, the 822nd digit of Pi and the current orbital trajectory of Jupiter.

Can I please please just have normal 2FA...

I keep forgetting the 822nd digit of pi. Thankfully I remember most of my planetary orbital physics so I'm usually good for the last one

I used to HATE those password screens. I moved to Starling and never looked back!

I've been with HSBC for over 10 years and never experienced any problems even though I'm fairly allergic to dumb UX. I use the iOS app which has 2FA (touch id) to do everything. Last time I logged in via a web browser was years ago, I can't even remember the interface. I can't quite agree with you as I think more security layers are better when it comes to your personal bank account.

With that said HSBC is not the best retail bank as individuals were never their primary target base. I've had a few problems with them but only when dealing with branch personnel. For anyone in the UK wanting to move away from HSBC but don't know where, look at First Direct. It's a retail bank owned by HSBC group but it's been consistently voted among top three banks every year by customers.

More security layers doesn’t always == better security

The “nth nth and nth” character of your password means they’re storing your password in plaintext, and Auntie Nora is more likely to have it written on a postit cos she can’t use a password manager.

“Name of your first school” etc type questions are obviously awful

My favorite is HSBC kept asking me to enable “voice identification” every time I phoned up as a “more secure way” of authenticating myself...which to me smells like a cat and mouse game between who has the better ML model. Oh also https://www.computing.co.uk/news/3010450/hsbc-voice-recognit...

I moved in the opposite direction and Monzo was not available yet in the US. Fortunately I get to keep my HSBC Premier US account and its free instant transfers between US and UK.

HSBC makes most of its profits from China and the new Cold War means it will eventually have to spin off its core but less profitable UK business to survive scruteront the Chinese Communist Party.

> Can I please please just have normal 2FA

The HSBC mobile banking app is much more normal that way - Touch ID is sufficient - and it can do 95% of what you want to do most days. (Pretty much everything for me bar opening/closing accounts and making/renewing mortgage contracts.)

Yes, it is completely crazy.

I have no idea who is the retarded in charge of their security but it clearly makes no sense:

In the end, instead of a password, it asks me what is the name of my favorite animal to connect...

En even for the password, it's useless to have a long one because they will never ask you anything else than the 4 first or last chars. I'm also quite sure that because of that, they have to store in clear text your password or have to store multiple hash for each set of 4 letters in your pass. That would also be stupid...

To login, I just use my fingerprint.

I signed up for HSBC a few years back thinking they were a good “international” banking choice for people with ties abroad. Sure there are (were) HSBC locations in other countries but they wouldn’t treat you any different than a stranger on the street unless you had $100,000 in accounts there. Their international transfers and account opening services were very meh.

Around the same time, I adopted Transferwise (now just wise.com) which offers faster and cheaper transfers, and account-like functionality (holding a balance in different currency to avoid rate fluctuations and access to native bank transfers) which is exactly what I wanted HSBC for but light years ahead. Wise.com is still what I recommend for frequent travelers, expats, sending money to family, etc.

Citibank may not be your favorite bank, but if you travel a lot, they have branches in many of the world's largest cities. I've been able to get local currency out of many Citi ATMs abroad with zero fees or problems.

Looks like they have branches in 25 countries, which is pretty nice, but they don't have quite as much as I'd have expected in Europe. Does anyone else have another suggestion for a good international bank?

Well depends on what you want - if you want branches, no idea; but if it's just for withdrawals in local currency with no fees, N26 are pretty good.

It's not common for any bank to charge for this.

When you take money out of ATM machines abroad, the bank's fee is worked into the exchange rate they apply to you.

Taking money out of a Citi ATM overseas (assuming you have a domestic Citi account) is fee-free and with better exchange rate you'll find at any local currency exchange. In my experience, at least. YMMV.

Not to mention getting a receipt with you account balance in Vietnamese dong is amusing.

HSBC is by far the worst banking experience I ever had. I only signed up for the generous sign up bonus. The app was very, very dated and only worked half the time. The website seemed to redirect you about 50 times on login, again, failing half the time. I could go on and on about how awful things were designed, but will not in the interest of time. I couldn't wait to get that money out and close it up. It's like they weren't even trying.

It is hands down the worst, stupidest login process I've ever experienced. Where I am, the app makes you choose a long password (great!) but instead of entering the whole thing, asks for random characters from it, making it impossible to use a password manager. Whoever made this truly hates their customers.

Asking for three letters from a password and/or PIN is quite common for UK banks.

Same, finally after a year of random issues I asked that my accounts be closed. They ended up just cutting me bank checks for the entire balance but left the accounts open which triggered monthly dues and ultimately a negative balance they wanted to collect on. Took the branch manager over an hour to figure out how to fix everything.

I am very similar, I was looking to switch and the signup bonus tempted me

in the end I closed that account and went back to my old one as the HSBC website and app were so appallingly bad

it was like something out of 1995

I empathize with the login process being clunky. That and I think they gave me $500 for putting in $5k for 3 months. I recall calculating it was something like a “46% annualized return or 1.10 ^ 4”, for 3 months, on 5k, with FDIC insurance to boot…

Same here. I had an account with them 10 years ago. They were unbelievably dysfunctional, unlike any other bank I've worked with.

I figured no business could be profitable operating in such a clumsy way, indicating that "boring" retail banking was not the focus of their operations.

Same...exited this bank a few months ago when consolidating accounts. HSBC was at the bottom of the checking accounts I held.

HSBC also previously exited mass market retail banking in Japan, Korea, Brazil, and Turkey.

(There's probably more, these are just the first ones I found.)

Japan (actually exited both mass market and Premier retail banking): https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2012/02/24/business/hsbc-t...

Korea: https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424127887324853704578587...

Brazil and Turkey: https://www.ft.com/content/85642fcc-e50d-11e4-bb4b-00144feab...

I actually thought they exited the US mass market post 2008. Or may be they keep saying they are going to exit without actually doing it.

Also France

I am still choosing carefully my next bank without a dirty history. The majority had unethical or sinister practices: HSBC & Capital One (money laundering), Chase (gold & silver spoofing), Goldman Sachs (mortgage crisis), Wells Fargo (fake accounts), Robinhood (sort of a bank, gambling), etc.


Charles Schwab seems ok so far. Still researching... feedback welcome.

Money Laundering and Spoofing are wildly different classes of behavior for a bank. Money Laundering is criminal activity in the bank's core function. Spoofing is... a trading activity, hurting other traders, and only related to banking in that "JP Morgan Chase" is a large org that dies many things.

I don't mean to be shilling for any single bank here, I just happen to be more familiar with the spoofing than the other cases.

Can't help with dirty history, but on paper Schwab is hard to beat. AFAIK Schwab and Betterment are the only two left that do worldwide ATM fee coverage.

My only downside with Schwab is the UI on their site. It seems very much geared to the boring investor, moreso than the checking account customer. Maybe some people prefer that, though.

Schwab's checking account has always been a loss leader for their brokerage so I imagine it'll stay that way. The mobile app isn't too bad though.

Probably not scandal free, but I was choosing between Fidelity and Schwab for zero fee banking and eventually landed on fidelity after using both. It's been great, refund all atm fees. Easy to use. Also they have FZROX which is a zero fee s&p500 index fund.

not sure why you would solely put the 08' financial crisis on Goldman... Not that that they really offer many consumer services anyway.

Common advice here is that companies should focus on their core competencies and customers. in this case Mexican drug cartels.

Is HSBC still the bank favored for CIA etc. spook project accounts?

Last I heard, it was considered "career-limiting" for an FBI agent to initiate any investigation touching on HSBC, because of the risk of bumping into a spook project, or some spook's personal embezzled/extorted slush/retirement fund. (Cf. "The In-Laws", 1979, Peter Falk, Alan Arkin.)

As a result, HSBC became the place to bankroll crooked projects. But that was a long time ago. Maybe someplace else is favored by spooks now?

So they can fully focus on drug cartels.

sounds about right, crazy how no major news outlet has covered this so far

For those that aren't aware (because there's no date on this page) this announcement dates back to May 26th. So this is quite old news.

I've had very good experience with HSBC in the US both as a student and later on when opening a new account in the US using my Hong Kong HSBC account as reference.

I do agree though that even before their exit of mass market retail banking they wouldn't give the time of the day to anyone with less than 100k USD so it's not surprising.

As an HSBC premier client with over $100k - I'm wondering what's going to change.

I liked their loose nature with international accounts - I opened Canadian and Italian bank accounts with little more than verbal asks.

UBS also requires 120k CHF for me keeping a bank account now that I'm leaving Switzerland, so this looks like an organized move.

I guess Taliban and cartel money is just more profitable to manage.

serious? woah!!

Retail banks in the US are the worst. All their branches look shabby. My comparison points are banks in Singapore and Australia.

Where will I launder my money now? >:(

they must be short GME

Basically says they’re bailing out of the US consumer market to focus on high net worth individuals and accounts. Basically the “1%”.

Executives are quoted, implying that the reason is due to their inability to compete in that market, but I wonder if that’s really why. I’m thinking that with US debt being so high (both consumers and the federal government), millions of job openings going unfilled, an end to eviction moratoriums, zero action on increasing minimum wage and all the other pandemic mess, that they’re seeing a dismal future for the US economy as consumers wind up with essentially zero discretionary income to spend, a government that won’t do anything about it, and another possible Great Recession triggered again by foreclosures on a housing market that’s currently overpriced. Add our mounting inflation to the mix and things look pretty dark. My guess it’s that’s what’s really driving things here.

Sadly it won’t be much better anywhere else, and some places it’ll get even worse. Man, fuck this pandemic.

They hardly wanted to deal with US customers before the pandemic. Plus they’ve been busted for fraud or money laundering, had to pay giant fines, and didn’t have the most positive brand recognition after that in US market.

US cards have been remarkably well accepted globally for a long time now, likely because the 3 big card processors are American, and American’s general need for banking abroad is probably covered by the bank they already have.

Looking at San Francisco, HSBC only has a handful of retail locations, seems like they were focusing on the Chinese-American market. (They also have a building on Montgomery Bank Row, assume they're keeping that for their tooty customers.)

Not sure if this the soapbox you really want to stand on.

I don't think the plan to exit the US consumer market was because of the pandemic. I remember there had been talks of exiting the US market even in 2019 ( random article I pulled up after a google search -https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/money-and-banking/hsbc-... ). I think their US banking operations had been performing badly for some time now. Maybe the pandemic could have accelerated things.

I think you nailed it. The 1% will sail through the recession and just buy all the poor people’s stuff at pennies on the dollar. Poor people don’t have any buffer, all their money goes to bills already. If HSBC saw any money there, they would not be exiting.

Recessions are when retail banks are most in demand, I don't think that's their reason for exiting.

They got massive fines and dragged in the press for the crime of doing money transfers to and from Mexico; they're heavily pressured by the government to provide international transfers and then blamed as soon as one of those transfers goes to someone bad. They've probably reached a point where the only winning move is not to play.

A lot of banks are exiting retail saving accounts.

Here's an example of a big bank in the Netherlands ( in dutch): https://www.banken.nl/nieuws/23010/ing-adviseert-spaarders-o...

Right. And HSBC in particular has been downsizing outside of Asia and core markets for years now. So this move isn’t unexpected and not related to economic prospects.

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