HSBC was sold to the Royal Bank of Canada this week for an obscene amount. I’m not an expert in banking but thought I would discuss what this means to me.
The Royal Bank of Canada has signed a deal to buy HSBC Canada for CAD $13.5 billion. The deal will close by the end of 2023 and at that stage, it will take several months to migrate current HSBC customers to its bank. RBC thinks it’s a way to expand internationally and add to its client base. They are supposedly going to integrate technology to meet the commercial capability and globally connected client base.
The deal will need regulatory approval so there will be some obstacles that they will have to get through.
The Good and the Bad
HSBC Canada is a little backward compared to other Canadian banks and its UK equivalent. The benefits that other people enjoy with other banks I don’t have with HSBC. I can’t add Debit to my iPhone since HSBC hasn’t signed up for Visa Debit or a similar service. I can’t use online verification services as HSBC hasn’t signed up for them, these include a login to Canadian government services. It would be a major benefit to me should RBC provide these services to migrated customers.
One of the major must-have facilities for me is to transfer money from HSBC UK to HSBC Canada. If money comes into my UK account I can then transfer it to my pound-sterling account in Canada, at no cost. Then, when the transfer rate is to my benefit, I convert it into my CAD$ account. Transferring at a time that is convenient to me vs getting it paid directly into my Canadian account from future pension payments and other reasons allows me to earn more from my money. HSBC Canada has many Asian clients for exactly that reason, transferring cash from HSBC Hong Kong is one such example. RBC need to think globally and provide equivalent or better services, otherwise, I would not be happy.
There has been a lot in the news about the reputation of HSBC being linked with unglamorous customers who may have a slightly dodgy background. I believe that will be a risk to reputation exercise for RBC so it had better review the security aspect of this deal.
HSBC vs RBC Customer Service
HSBC has not been great over the years.
I am supposed to have a named contact at HSBC Belgravia, London, but despite reaching out that person has never had the courtesy of replying.
It took over 1 year for HSBC to respond to a question here in Canada, then I just gave up on a service I was going to buy.
At this stage I don’t know too much about the customer service of RBC, however, looking through Yelp reviews it’s not great. Our local branch receives a 3/5, and other nearby branches don’t receive any greater than 2/5.
I was checking out online what people are saying about this story. According to The Financial Post, it could affect mortgages. Some are saying that HSBC is beholden to China. Some have put an anti-Trudeau slant on it saying companies have no appetite to invest in Canada anymore. Some say it gives more power to the minority of banks. So, I’m not an expert on this subject, I really can’t comment on what they say.
It’s an excellent opportunity to review who I want to do business with. For example, I don’t have to move to RBC if another bank, with a better reputation, can provide equal or better services. It’s always good to bank with more than one institution too, if one goes belly up I would have another for continuity.